Interim CEO Letter 13/2/18

Dear Members,

As my brief time at the RSL-SA comes to and end and new leadership comes in, I wanted to provide you with a quick view from the CEO’s perspective of what has happened over the past few months and the direction we are heading in.

I have wanted to have greater engagement with the sub-branches, however as my appointment was short term; I kept my focus on financial management and governance. I felt this was the best way to serve the long-term goals of the RSL. It is not lost on me that the sub-branches have been left without the support they should expect from state branch, however the patience, understanding and support from members has been humbling and very much appreciated.

It weighs on me heavily that I am unable to respond to every enquiry and email and that I cannot give the personalised support to sub-branches that they are entitled to and should expect. I know Bronson feels the same. With a staff of 5 and supplemented by volunteers, there is still a significant delta between the human resources available and the tasks needed to be done.

Still, I sleep well at night because I know we are on the road to recovery. The outstanding 2016 Annual Information Statements are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks, quite a difficult feat after administration. The outstanding acquittals from a number of grants are also close to being finalised and we can expect a re-injection of grant money over the coming one to two months once this is completed. These funds will bolster our key service deliverables – commemorations, welfare and advocacy.

We are working constructively with the ACNC, with monthly updates demonstrating our steady progress on improved governance. Our contracts and outgoing expenses are gradually being reviewed and rationalised in an effort to save money and re-direct funds to core services. Though the Deeds of Company Arrangements continue, we move slowly but surely toward their finalisation as we await the sale of property and other assets.

All of this could not have been achieved without the support of members and sub-branches – thank you. That being said, my heroes are the staff and volunteers I see every day. Steve, Chris, Titch, Julie and Karen work with very little resources but a whole lot of passion to support veterans in need. Jill keeps this place running by paying the bills on time and finding more economical ways of doing business. Nel and Deirdre are often here past closing time and have recently worked extra hours to ensure the membership database was up-to-date so members are eligible to vote, battling against an ageing and broken membership system (which is being worked on as we speak). Ken is the face of the RSL, always at the front desk with a smile and helping hand and often assisted by the delightful Ron.

Keith has been my right hand man in advising me on the Constitution, By-Laws and RSL history on top of his role as our commemorations and marketing guru, supported by another diligent volunteer Leonie. Warren has done outstanding work developing online forms to increase office efficiency and Peter keeps us all informed with his wonderful work on the Signal. Glenn has done some fantastic work on our workplace health and safety, developing essential policies and procedures. John has brought me coffee and smiley face cookies – that is enough, though he also supports the front office on various projects. I see Sharyn and Rob every day in the Virtual War Memorial keeping history alive. The folks on our Finance and Audit Committee have done very hairy and difficult work pulling together vital financial reports and developing a robust plan moving forward, I tip my hat to you (a big shout out to RSL Care SA for volunteering their most experienced people to assist, you guys rock). The Board Members, Bronson, Cheryl, Bill, Trevor and Craig have provided immense support in moving the RSL forward and I thank them for their guidance, patience and support. The staff and volunteers endure. I am inspired and exceptionally grateful for their dedication and putting a smile on my face every day.

To all of incredible people doing outstanding work in the trenches that is Sub Branch land, may I say you are the bedrock of the RSL. Without your continued support we could not continue to provide the support we have been providing over the last 101 years. Though I may not know you all by name, the positive impact you all have on the veteran community is evident daily.

The new CEO, Kim Henshaw, commences this week and will be sending out a formal introduction shortly. Kim has a proven history of managing change, driving funding and business growth in the Not-For-Profit sector with exceptional governance skills and a strong focus on service delivery and most importantly – member, staff and volunteer morale. As for me, my Leave without Pay from the Air Force will continue as I head over to Timor Leste with Australian Volunteers International to work on grassroots empowerment for women affected by violence. It has been a pleasure working with and for you all.

Once again, thank you to all members for your ongoing support.

All the best,

Samantha Hewitt

Interim CEO