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”.

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