More to RSL clubs than meets the eye

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

AN­ZAC Day’s come and gone, and flow­ers cleared from memo­ri­als – so what hap­pens at your lo­cal RSL dur­ing the rest of the year?

The City of Bel­mont RSL Sub-Branch saw around 1800 peo­ple at­tend the dawn ser­vice, 400 at their gun­fire break­fast and more com­ing to the club through­out the day.

But there’s an im­mense amount of plan­ning that goes into each round of April 25 memo­ri­als and much of the fi­nan­cial bur­den is placed on the RSL clubs them­selves.

“When we do An­zac Day, we start in Oc­to­ber each year,” Sub-Branch pres­i­dent Alan Richard­son said.

“We ac­tu­ally fundraise for An­zac Day. We don’t mind that in a sense be­cause it keeps ev­ery­one busy and keeps them think­ing but the ex-ser­vice com­mu­nity should not be pay­ing for com­mem­o­ra­tive me­mo­rial ser­vices for them.”

Mr Richard­son said there was pre­vi­ously lit­tle to no pa­per­work re­quired for events but the ad­min­is­tra­tion and costs were adding up.

“There’s a lot of bu­reau­cracy placed on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, who are told to tell other peo­ple what to do and that’s where the prob­lems and costs em­anate from,” he said.

“We had to pay for a build­ing li­cence to put in a mar­quee for an hour ser­vice at Bel­mont. That’s not the coun­cil’s fault, they have to ad­min­is­ter the build­ing codes to do that. But why should the ex-ser­vice­men go ahead and start pay­ing out money?”

Mr Richard­son said the City of Bel­mont was very sup­port­ive of the RSL and Lot­tery­west grants went to­wards event fund­ing, but the An­zac pe­riod events in April still came to around $10,000.

“We fundraise the dif­fer­ence be­tween our to­tal ex­pense and what we get from the Lot­ter­ies Com­mis­sion. We ap­plied for Lot­tery­west and got $4500. We’re about five or six grand short,” he said.

“We will look af­ter the schools ser­vice, be­cause we be­lieve that’s a com­mu­nity role we can play, we can go out and help the schools,” he said.

“But when we come to the ac­tual ser­vices in the com­mu­nity, we need to look at ways and means of giv­ing the com­mu­nity what they want, a ser­vice and yet mak­ing sure we don’t put our hands in our pock­ets to pay for it.”

Mr Richard­son said the ideal so­lu­tion would be re­mov­ing some of the costs in­volved with over­com­ing red tape for events.

Sub-Branch vice pres­i­dent Steve Toon said the club was still thriv­ing de­spite the set­backs, with some 350 paid mem­bers and many of the lo­cal com­mu­nity drop­ping in for func­tions and meals.

“I reg­u­larly heard that the RSL was a closed shop. Peo­ple felt dis­re­spect­ful com­ing here. It’s get­ting across to peo­ple that we don’t sit in cor­ners and talk war sto­ries and blood and guts, we’re just nor­mal peo­ple,” he said.

“It’s like any club, like a soc­cer club or a tennis club. It’s a re­ally so­cial club.”

Mem­bers come from all cor­ners of the globe, in­clud­ing South Africa, New Zealand, and an Ital­ian mem­ber who served in Bos­nia un­der the United Na­tions.

“It’s a place where you meet peo­ple you’ve crossed paths with. This is our R&R for the rest of our life. We sit and re­lax and we want peo­ple to join in,” Mr Toon said.

The City of Bel­mont RSL Sub-Branch is cel­e­brat­ing its 88th year in 2017. Visit the RSL at 22 Leake Street, As­cot, or call 9478 2329.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son­mu­ni­ d468991

Pres­i­dent Alan Richard­son and vice pres­i­dent Steve Toon.

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