National RSL History

The RSL evolved as a direct result of the camaraderie, concern and mateship shown by the "Diggers" for the welfare of their mates during and after the 1914 - 1918 War. That ethos of compassion and service remains today the motivating influence of the League.

Some key historical dates in the history of the League are:

June 1916
Conference of Returned Soldiers' Association recommended formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA)
September 1916
First RSSILA Congress (delegates from QLD, SA, TAS and VIC)
March 1917
NSW admitted to the League
March 1918
WA admitted to the League
Formation of the ACT Branch
November 1940
Name changed to the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA)
October 1965
Name changed to Returned Services League of Australia (RSL)
September 1983
Name changed to Returned Services League of Australia Limited (RSL)
September 1990
Name changed to Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL)

The ideals and objectives which had characterised the initiation of the first state associations in 1916 were correlated and finally adopted, in the following form, as the aims and objectives of the League:

To perpetuate the close ties of friendship created by mutual service in the Australian Defence Force or allied forces, to maintain a proper standard of dignity and honour among all past and present serving members of the Defence Force and to set an example of public spirit and noble hearted endeavour;
To preserve the memory and records of those who suffered and died for Australia;
To provide for the sick and wounded and needy among those who have served and their dependents including pensions, medical attention, homes and suitable employment;
To inculcate loyalty to the Nation, to guard the good name and preserve the interests and standing of members of the Defence Force; and
To promote our policy on national questions, particularly:

the unity of the Commonwealth of Nations,
the Defence of Australia
the maintenance of a sustainable and selective immigration policy
the development of a national Defence infrastructure and Defence industry, and
the promotion and proper employment of the nation's natural resources.