Bronson Horan, New RSL State President

Letter from Bronson Horan, new RSL SA State President

Dear Members
Today a meeting was held of the RSL SA State Board, at which BRIG Tim Hanna announced his resignation as State President and from the Board of RSL SA. Mrs Jill Hoare will be stepping down as her term as Vice President has come to its end. A more suitable time will come for me to acknowledge the many years of dedicated service that has been provided by both Tim and Jill, but for now I’d simply like to thank them both for the work they have done on our Board, and I wish them every success in the future.

I am pleased to advise that at today’s meeting the RSL SA has appointed four new members to the RSL SA State Board, being:

Trevor Whitelaw; Bill Denny; Bronson Horan; Cheryl Cates

I am also pleased to advise that at today’s meeting, Mr Stephen Larkins, Mr Colin Johns and Mr Tony Flaherty have decided to remain as board members.

These new board members previously nominated for the Board elections that were planned for July, and they have volunteered to help form an interim board until such time as we are able to convene an AGM, which I will explain later in this release.

As part of this interim Board I was nominated to and accepted the role of State President, and I thank my fellow Board members for this display of confidence. I will be ably supported by Trevor Whitelaw who has been elected as the Chairman of the State Board, and I’d also like to congratulate and welcome Bill Denny and Cheryl Cates who have been elected as Vice Presidents.

Why an interim Board?
Over the last year it has become apparent that the RSL SA has been under a great deal of financial and governance stress. The reasons behind this are multiple, and these will be examined over the coming days and weeks and described to the membership in more detail as we move through this period of administration. Let me be very clear however, the RSL is a great organisation and is one worth saving, and that is exactly what we intend to do. However we can’t do this on our own, and I need your help in the coming months to get through this difficult period.

Please let me stress that this is an interim Board and that new elections will commence in March 2018, with the results of those elections to be handed down at our next AGM in July 18. This is the earliest that we can practically conduct the elections, noting the limitations we presently face with the administration and the subsequent difficulties we would encounter in attempting to run an AGM over or near the Christmas and New Year period.

All board positions including my own will be open during this upcoming election, and we encourage any person wishing to stand at these elections to do so. I will issue further communications on this topic in the coming months.

As an interim Board, governance will be our focus.
As a Board we accept that past poor governance practices and a lack of financial acumen has led RSL SA to be placed into voluntary administration, despite the best intentions of many people involved. Moving forward our plan is first and foremost to ensure that our governance procedures meet or exceed all reasonable expectations, and that we employ sound accounting principles to guarantee that our business dealings are well managed and financially responsible.
Our ultimate focus remains delivering outcomes to benefit the veteran community, but to do this we must ensure that we establish and maintain good governance practices that are compliant with nationally recognised standards.

You are the life blood of this organisation, and without your support we cannot succeed. In the coming months the Board will be holding a series of information sessions to all members, through which we aim to keep you informed and to listen to your ideas and feedback. There is a lot of work to be done over this period so as a Board we will need to work hard to make sure that you all have an opportunity to be heard, and to make sure that we clearly explain the challenges we face and the progress we make. Clearly a key priority for us will be returning our organisation to financial health, but we also need to ensure that we can continue to provide the critical welfare, advocacy and commemorative support that our community relies on us for so heavily.

Throughout this entire period we want and need to hear from you, because we fully understand that we are a membership-based organisation and that you are our key stakeholders. We know that as a Board we must work hard to earn your trust, and to do this we must first understand your concerns and then gain a sense of where you want our organisation to head. We are also well aware that the RSL SA Board needs to have the respect of the community. I would ask that you start to think critically about these issues.

Partners moving forward
As I have stated previously we cannot do this on our own, and so our Board will be characterised by partnership and collegiate interactions.

Fortunately, we have already received significant offers of advice and support that will be critical to us in the coming months, including from the Government of South Australia, the National Branch of the RSL, RSL Care SA, ACNC and of course, our most important partners being the great Sub-Branches of the RSL SA. We will also be seeking the support of the Commonwealth Government, Local Community Groups and Councils. Without our partners we have nothing, and it is through you we have everything.

We have a job to do
This is not the first time that the RSL has faced challenges, but it is through periods of adversity such as these that our true strength of character can be shown. As a Board we are completely united behind the reality that many of our ex-service personnel rely heavily on us for support, and we will not let them down. We hope that you will have our support and rest assured, you have ours.

Bronson Horan
State President