RSL to repay $1.4m debt and restore public’s faith
THE once endangered RSL SA branch is poised to repay in full the $1.4 million owed to its creditors and retain its charitable status in a major milestone for the veteran’s organisation.
RSL SA/NT chief executive Kim Henshaw said the sale of the organisation’s Alice Springs sub-branch headquarters would allow the charity to finalise its debts and return $500,000 to creditors before Christmas, in addition to $940,000 already returned to suppliers as of August.
“The deed of company ar- rangement is coming to an end next month, the final dividend will be paid next month to creditors and there will be 100c in the dollar dividend to creditors and there will be some left for us,” he said, adding about $335,000 will be returned to the charity,” Mr Henshaw, pictured, said.
“Rebuilding trust has been really important. A lot of people said 12 months ago we wouldn’t survive 12 months; well, guess what … reports of our death are much exaggerated.
“By the resilience of all the (staff) here and the membership, we are still here and still going and I think we’ve shown that we are transforming the organisation and therefore I’d expect we’ll get a better hearing from sponsors in the future who may not have wanted to align themselves with the RSL in the past.”
The RSL and associated entities were placed into voluntary administration in April 2017 because of poor cashflow under the previous board of the 103-year-old charity. Creditors last August voted against liquidating the RSL SA and instead backed an agreement in which the RSL sold assets to pay debts and release the charity from administration.
Mr Henshaw said the RSL had worked through a “long laundry list” of compliance matters with the federal charity regulator to ensure it retained its charity status and associated tax exemptions.
He expects those matters should be finalised before the end of the year, allowing the charity to continue advocating for veterans. Mr Henshaw, who was appointed chief executive in February and whose family served in World War I and II, said there was still “a lot of anger” among members about what happened to their money.
He said now the RSL was “back on track”, the board could consider whether it was possible to “at least partly right the wrongs of the past”.
Mr Henshaw said the RSL had rebuilt trust with members, the community and State Government and praised those who had “done it really tough”.