Apr 01

RSL National Presidents News Updates


National  Presidents News updates –

National President’s Newsletter
Issue 13, June 2016

Get connected during Veteran’s Health Week

Social Connection – the relationship people have with others – is the theme of Veterans’ Health Week (VHW) 2016, which runs from Saturday, 22 October to Sunday, 30 October. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be looking to partner with ex-service organisations and community groups to organise and participate in fun, health awareness raising activities for VHW 2016.

Social connection includes relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, as well as connections people make through paid or unpaid work, sport and other leisure activities. These relationships are beneficial to both health and wellbeing. At a population level, an absence of social relationships has been linked to mortality risk. Community groups can enable individuals to form and maintain positive social connections, because they bring people together for a meaningful purpose.

Is there an old friend you’ve been thinking about re-connecting with? Don’t wait until VHW comes around in October, pick up the phone and re-connect.

If you haven’t got an activity planned, now is the time to consider how you or your organisation can be involved in getting your local veteran community connected.

For assistance or to find out more about VHW, contact DVA on 133 254 or 1800 555 254 for regional callers. Email vhw@dva.gov.au or visit their website for the latest information and event listings.

Election of new RSL National President

On 7 June 2016, the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM). RADM Ken Doolan AO stepped down as RSL National President and Mr Rod White AM RFD was elected to the position.

National President – Mr Rod White AM RFD

Rod was born in North Sydney in 1946 and was raised and educated in Chatswood. On leaving school he followed family interests into the building industry completing his apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner. Concurrently, he enlisted in 1964 in the Army Reserve with the 17th Infantry Battalion, later volunteering for the Regular Army as a National Serviceman and serving for nearly 3 years. During that time he was posted to the 9th Battalion and then with the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in the Vietnam War, as an Infantry Corporal and a Mortar Fire Controller.

After Vietnam, Rod returned to the building industry, re-enlisted in the Army Reserve and was subsequently appointed a commissioned officer. His postings included, Second in Command – Sydney University Regiment and of the 17th Infantry Battalion.

Rod was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (Military Division) for his service to the Australian Army Reserve and awarded the Reserve Forces Decoration. Rod retired in 1993 with the rank of Major.

Within the RSL NSW Branch, Rod has had extensive experience including as a Sub-Branch President, State Councillor, Trustee of the Welfare & Benevolent Institution, Director of the ANZAC House Trust, plus several other key appointments. He was State Honorary Treasurer from 2004 to 2014 and has been a member of the board of RSL LifeCare since 2002, and Chairman since 2004. In 2015 he was appointed State President of the RSL New South Wales Branch.

For his service to the RSL and the broader Ex Service community, Rod received the Australian Centenary Medal and was appointed a Life Member of the RSL of Australia.

Besides his involvement with veteran welfare, Rod maintains a keen interest in corporate governance, Australian military and social history and is a regular lawn bowler. At home, Rod enjoys the company of his wife, Judith White OAM, a retired nurse and they try to keep up with the adventurous exploits of their son, David.

Rod was elected National President of the Returned & Services League at its Annual General Meeting on 7 June 2016.


National President’s Newsletter
Issue 12, May 2016

Veterans Heart Health Program
– Improving veterans’ health

The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Heart Health Program has been helping returned service men and women for over 15 years. The fully funded program aims to help veterans increase their overall health, physical fitness and wellbeing through practical exercise, nutrition and healthy lifestyle education. Running for 52 weeks, the preventative health program covers a range of topics including setting healthy goals, eating well, lowering alcohol consumption, communication and stress management, taking care of your body, solving problems and maintaining a healthy heart. The program is offered in two formats – the Heart Health Group Program and the Individual Heart Health
Correspondence Program.

Managed and delivered by Corporate Health Management, the program was initially developed in response to the increased risk, up to 20% in some cases, returned service men and women face in developing heart disease compared to the general population of the same age.

Although the program does centre on the heart health issue, those taking part can work to improve other aspects of their health, fitness or wellbeing, including weight loss, increasing the strength of muscles and bones, social interaction and mindful health. Over the 15 plus years the Veterans Heart Health Program has been available, thousands of veterans have enrolled to take part and all have worked to towards these goals and more.

The Veterans Heart Health Program is open to all returned veterans, peace keepers and peace makers who have not completed the program before. All age groups, fitness levels and levels of mobility are provided for in the program with participants supported by a network of health professionals all working to provide advice, direction and resources as they continue to make positive change.

John, a Vietnam veteran, had been a member of a group program, John’s group met at Everton Hills with members coming from far and wide each week. John recalled “The benefits of the increased activity extends far beyond that of physical wellbeing”.

Groups across Australia meet one or two times a week and have a trainer to guide them through the program. Exercise has many benefits health-wise for those who may not have previously engaged in any form of physical activity. “The group worked together as a team and looked out for each other, if fact even after the end of our program, we continue to do that”. The morale and stamina that many of those taking part demonstrate is fed by that of their fellow members.

John notes that “our main strength is our bond and the things we have in common and our ability to understand each other and our journeys”.

If veterans are unable to attend a group, those taking part can access the program via the correspondence version. Programs are tailored specifically for the individual and participants are supported by their GP and a health coach via fortnightly phone sessions.

The Outreach Heart Health Program provides the veteran community with more flexible access to information and education and activity resources to give them the tools they need to improve their physical health and ultimately, to enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Last year Heart Health participants achieved amazing results:

  • Collectively, participants lost more than 540 kilos.
  • Veterans in the program bucked the national trend – while the average Australian gained more than a half a kilo, the average Heart Health participant lost double that figure.
  • Veterans also significantly improved their blood pressure: the number of participants with high blood pressure dropped by 15%.
  • They improved their overall satisfaction and sense of well-being 82% said the program helped them‘enjoy life better’.
  • At the start of the program 40% of participants were dissatisfied with their health. That dropped to 25% at the end of the last quarter.
  • A Majority improved their physical fitness and level of activity.
  • Most planned to make permanent changes to their lifestyle as a result.

As the program moves into its 16th year of improving veterans’ health, there continues to be opportunities for those who have not had the chance to make positive change to their health fitness and wellbeing. With new group programs developing regularly and of course the availability of the individual program all those wanting to take part can start at any time.

Further information on the Heart Health program can be found on the programs website www.veteranshearthealth.com.au

If you are eligible (or wish to confirm your eligibility) and would like to register for the Heart Health Program, contact the program managers, Corporate Health Management on 1300 246 262.

RSL Money –
Banking Solutions for Sub-Branches and Members

 A badge you can be proud to carry in your pocket RSL Money is a joint initiative between RSL and Australian Military Bank Ltd and is Australia’s only banking service designed to contribute to the sustained growth of the RSL movement.

Open to all RSL Sub Branch members and their partners, RSL Money offers its members a range of high value low cost banking products that helps to promote the RSL brand throughout the broader community. RSL Money offers its members: the RSL Money Low Rate Credit Card, the RSL Money Deeming Account and the RSL Money Sub Branch Account.

Every time you use RSL Money products, you are helping to promote the RSL brand throughout the broader community. Contributions raised from the RSL Money initiative go towards the RSL National Office and will help to keep RSL annual membership fees low.

Get in touch with our RSL Partnership Manager Ann Roach is the RSL Partnership Manager for RSL Money and is here to talk to you about RSL Money’s unique range of products. Ann’s focus is on providing personal service and valuable solutions for RSL Sub-Branches and their members.

Ann is responsible for building relationships and promoting the brand within the greater RSL community. In fact, Ann has been working with RSL’s in NSW for the past 9 years, during which time she has enjoyed developing and growing many working relationships with Sub-Branches.

What our customers have to say about RSL Money Janet Porter JP, Treasurer at Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch, has said to Ann that she would “highly recommend RSL Money. The staff have been nothing but extremely helpful with the transition to their bank. Being able to use the internet to pay accounts and using visa debit card to executive officers has been extremely helpful. No more standing in line at the Bank.”

Mr Mackie, Treasurer/Trustee at the Entrance Long Jetty RSL Sub-Branch, agrees with Porter, saying “the staff have been extremely helpful and friendly always”. Mr Mackie said he “initially opened an RSL Money Account for the sole purpose of tracking Government Grants with the advent of the Centenary of Anzac.” He went on to say “the account has proved to be a great success allowing them to have multiple users and permitting our Office Managers to track these grants and payments”.

The Executive Committee at Redfern RSL Sub-Branch says, they too “are very happy with the ease of transactions and transfer of funds. The Visa Cards are extremely helpful making the cheque book nearly obsolete. Their Treasurer is able to look at daily transactions and print off statements when required.”

Need to talk to someone? If you would like to find out more about the benefits of RSL Money products, you can contact Ann on 0418 400 143, visit www.rslmoney.com.au or call the dedicated hotline on 1300 000 775. We can also come to your Sub-Branch to conduct an RSL Money presentation at a time that suits you.

RSL Money is a business name of Australian Military Bank Limited ABN 48 087 649 741 AFSL and Australian credit licence number 237 988. The advice and information in this article doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs, which you should consider before acting on any of our recommendations. To decide if any of the products mentioned above are right for you, please carefully review the relevant Terms and Conditions and Fees and Charges Schedule available at www.rslmoney.com.au. Applications for the RSL Money Low Rate Credit Card are subject to ADCU’s normal lending criteria.

Thank You

As I am to stand down from the position as your National President at the Annual General Meeting on 7 June 2016, I take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks to each and every one of you for all you have done to assist me and, more particularly, the Returned & Services League of Australia during the past 7 years.

It has been an enormous privilege to have worked with you during this period of change and to have witnessed, first hand, the hugely important effort that the RSL directs towards the ongoing welfare needs of the service and ex-service community and their families around the nation.

During my visits to Sub Branches in all States and Territories and to two which are in other countries you have taken legitimate pride in explaining what is being achieved and in telling me about your plans for the future. These visits have also allowed conversations with community leaders throughout the nation during which I have been told repeatedly of the importance of the
work of RSL Sub Branches in supporting local communities and of their vital link to those communities.

The dedication of the RSL membership to the ideals of our iconic organisation should be a matter of great pride to all. It is certainly not lost on the nation’s political leaders as demonstrated by their attendance at and participation in so many RSL events. The RSL has well served the nation for 100 years. With your continued dedication and hard work there is every reason to expect the RSL will continue to provide excellent service for the next 100 years.

Well done everyone – and my thanks for your friendship and the many kindnesses you have shown to Elaine and to me.

Ken and Elaine Doolan


National President’s Newsletter

Issue 11, April 2016

Thank you to all the volunteers and members of the community that remembered the fallen on ANZAC Day.  We also remember those who have taken their lives on their return and now focus our efforts on meeting the needs of living veterans and their families.  This month I am providing an update on issues that are important to Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) members and the veteran community.

RSL Draft Health Paper – Health Policy Issues 2016

Members will recall that in my newsletter of September 2015 I advised that work was in hand to produce a comprehensive paper about problems in the provision of health care to current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). I have also spoken about this initiative at various meetings I have been privileged to attend at several Sub Branches over the intervening months.

2016 Defence White Paper

Following up on our initial quick look comment that the Paper appeared sound, we have now completed a comprehensive review taking account of advice from the RSL National Defence Committee. This has been forwarded to the Minister for Defence for her consideration. Copies of our submission have also been provided to the State and Territory Branch Presidents.

Overall the Defence White Paper is a very pragmatic document and of greatest importance the defence force capabilities it cites as being needed are financially soundly backed.

Earlier this week I released a press statement welcoming the Government’s decision to build all 12 new submarines in Australia. I also noted our pleasure that at long last the RSL contention that it was vital to establish an ongoing Australian naval shipbuilding capability has been heeded. With the expert assistance of the RSL National Defence Committee we have been very active in advocating this proposition for the last decade.

Invictus Games

It is now broadly accepted that participation in Adaptive Sports by those afflicted physically or mentally as a consequence of their ADF service is most beneficial in the recovery process.

This was the experience of those the RSL sponsored to the inaugural Invictus Games in London in 2014. As a consequence, the RSL is once again proud to team with the ADF in sponsoring an Australian Invictus Games team for the forthcoming gathering in Orlando, Florida, USA in May 2016. The team of 40 is comprised of 20 members of the ADF paid for by the
Department of Defence and 20 ex service members financially sponsored by the RSL. They will travel to the USA with up to two family members or friends as it is widely accepted that the healing process is helped by sharing such an experience with loved one or mates.


National President:

News Update No 10 – March 2016


50th Anniversary of Australian Forces Overseas Fund

In March, the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) continued a special tradition of helping and caring for the service community by sending 2,510 care packages to personnel on deployment.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Australian Forces Overseas Fund (AFOF).
The beginning of RSL AFOF can be traced to the decision to provide Christmas parcels to members of the Australian Army serving in Vietnam.  Following our withdrawal from Vietnam,  RSL AFOF has continued to support  Australian Forces on missions abroad. RSL AFOF was formally established on 26 January 1966 at the Sydney Town Hall, amalgamating the earlier fund established by RSL NSW and the Lord Mayor’s Comfort Fund.
The work of RSL AFOF has been made possible due to the many donations received from ordinary Australians who share our desire to continue this support. Twice a year, we see volunteers from RSL State Branch, RSL sub-Branches and Civilians from the Defence Department and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs joining with serving members of the Deployed Forces Support Unit (39th Battalion) at Randwick Barracks in NSW to pack parcels for shipment overseas.  Many personnel are serving in areas of particular hardship and in conditions
quite foreign to those experienced back home. These packages are a reminder of home and that Australia appreciates the contribution our service people are making for the nation.
Packing the delivery
RSL appreciates the support of 39th Battalion that provide the facilities to put together care packages to be sent overseas
Thank you to Cricket Australia
This delivery was made possible through the generous support of Cricket Australia who raised $10,000 at the ANZAC Test in November 2015.

Care package 1Care package 2care package 3

Helping personnel overseas stay connected

The RSL has been offering serving and ex-service personnel and their families a place to socialise for 100 years.  In addition to the programs that are run across Australia, RSL remembers those posted overseas and keeps them connected to home.
RSL AFOF is used to send care packages to Australian personnel that are posted overseas. At least twice a year, RSL gathers items to remind people of home and with the help of the ADF these are delivered around the world.  The packages contain items to remind them of home such as ANZAC biscuits, confectionery and a letter of appreciation.
It is often as hard to deal with a deployment mentally as physically due to missing out on activities that are unique to home. In January we sent a special Australia Day delivery to our troops to help them celebrate on the other side of the globe.
Last year the AFOF donated more than $9000 worth of instruments and equipment for personnel deployed to the Middle East Region. This included guitars, cymbals, microphones and a new mixer.  The donated equipment allows those who have an interest in music to unwind and briefly escape the hardships of their deployment. It also lifts the moral and offers a rare social occasion for all to enjoy when the band performs.
We are always delighted to hear back from those who have received gifts at the difference such a small thing can make to their spirits. “Thank for your donation of musical instruments it’s such a huge benefit to the soldiers there and I know it may my time there so much easier.”  Many thank you letters have been received over the 50 years of AFOF and they make our day when they arrive at the National office.
We are also grateful for the support the ADF provides to deliver the care packages and other gifts to the personnel on deployment.  RSL National administer AFOF and RSL NSW branch continues to provide volunteers and funds from their sub-Branches that is greatly appreciated.  AFOF is funded by donations and the packages are put together by our team of volunteers at a facility provided by 39th Personnel Support Battalion.