Saturday, 24 June 2023
RSL State Conference
It’s my great pleasure to be with you today and to open the 105th Sub- Branch Conference.
I am pleased to welcome RSL representatives from across South Australia, and to be patron of an organisation which plays such a significant role in supporting serving and ex-serving veterans, and their families.
Since the last RSL State Conference, Rod and I have continued our engagement with the veterans’ community, experiencing first hand its deep connections throughout South Australia.
We marked our second ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day by attending commemoration ceremonies at the National War Memorial, as well as the ANZAC Day Parade, the Service at the Cross of Sacrifice and the ANZAC Service for Aboriginal veterans.
To see veterans marching with their mates, and family members proudly wearing the medals of their family members was, as it is every year, profoundly moving.
We were again heartened by the ANZAC Youth Vigil, and the respect with which young South Australians honoured the service and sacrifice of our armed forces.
In February it was my privilege to open the new RSL Care SA facility, ‘Romani’, at Murray Bridge, and to witness the RSL’s commitment to supporting veterans and their families in their older years.
I thank RSL Care SA for providing veterans with a variety of residential aged care, retirement living and affordable housing options to suit their needs.
In my dual roles as Governor and your patron, I am reminded regularly of the service and sacrifice that so many South Australians have made to protect our nation and its way of life.
I am reminded of the debt our society owes to our servicemen and women, and our veterans, and of the wonderful work the RSL does every day to provide opportunities for commemoration, advocacy, and practical support.
I thank President Cheryl Cates and the Board for their vision and dedication to the organisation.
I thank Cheryl for her unfailing helpfulness and courtesy towards me as Governor and for keeping me briefed on RSL matters as patron.
I thank retiring board members Trevor Whitelaw and Wayne Langford for their service and wish the new Board all the very best.
I thank the presidents, committees and members of each South Australian sub-branch, along with the Northern Territory and Broken Hill, as they work to meet the challenges currently facing the RSL, such as declining membership numbers in smaller Sub-Branches and country communities.
As your patron, I am invested in the future direction and orientation of the RSL.
How might we rise to meet new community attitudes and values, evolving government policies, and rapidly advancing communications technology, and harness them for the good of the organisation?
No doubt these are questions at the forefront of your minds, as are the need for unity and collaboration, innovation and flexibility.
I note the RSL’s intentions to recruit more members of the ADF, unit associations and eligible members of multicultural communities, and the motion at today’s AGM to enable police and emergency services members to join the RSL as full service members.
I am sure this idea will promote lively debate.
I wish you a productive conference and AGM and look forward to my continued involvement with the RSL as it rises to the challenges and opportunities of our modern society.