Veterans return to Lower North Coast RSL sub-Branches

VETERANS are returning to RSL NSW after 40 years of declining membership.

In three years, Australia’s largest veteran charity has strategically increased its membership in NSW by 25 percent, predominantly in regional areas.

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RSL NSW President Ray James OAM, said, “We are really happy to see such a significant increase in membership – it highlights the need for strong veteran communities and support systems, and the importance of the RSL in regional areas where veterans can often be quite isolated.”

It’s crucial to RSL NSW that veterans are aware that they can access the services that they need from their local RSL sub-Branch, and while the sub-Branch may occasionally hold meetings or commemorative events at their local RSL or Services Club, they are completely separate entities; RSL sub-Branches do not operate clubs.

Engagement from younger veterans has also increased, with many stepping into leadership positions in their local sub-Branches, according to James.

“The next generation of veterans are continuing to drive positive change in their communities, resulting in membership growth and fostering a strong sense of belonging among veterans and their families.”

The Lower North Coast, which covers an area from Bulahdelah to Wauchope, has experienced a 33 percent surge in membership, with Old Bar Beach sub-Branch President, Jeff Earley, stating there have been more than 30 veterans signing up to the sub-Branch in the small township this past year alone.

“It was really important to me that we created an inclusive community where all veterans could be comfortable regardless of their gender, and that veterans can bring their families to our events,” Earley shared.

The growth in veterans joining their local sub-Branches can be attributed to a range of strategic initiatives implemented by RSL NSW, including free membership, an online sign-up process, family-friendly meetings, and the RSL NSW Sport & Recreation program, which piloted in regional and metropolitan NSW in 2022.

“We encourage all veterans to get involved with their local sub-Branch and become an integral part of Australia’s oldest veteran charity,” Ray James said.

“The RSL has been a vital service for all veterans and their families for more than 100 years.”

RSL NSW, with its charity partner RSL LifeCare Veteran Services, provides support for veterans and their families in the form of mateship and camaraderie, DVA claim support, employment services, and housing and homelessness support, as well as myriad other programs to assist veterans as they transition into new careers and settle into civilian life.

The growth in membership reflects RSL NSW’s ongoing efforts to provide accessible and meaningful programs that resonate with the community as well as evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of veterans.

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