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CEO Jamie Twidale’s plan to modernise RSL Victoria and provide veterans with a greater voice

By Leo D'Angelo Fisher

RSL Victoria can and must do more to improve its approach to policy setting and group advocacy, according to state branch CEO Jamie Twidale.

In an exclusive Q&A exchange with Australian Veteran News to mark the release of RSL Victoria’s 2019 annual report, Mr Twidale acknowledges that RSL Victoria has more to do in meeting its role in policy development and public advocacy on behalf of members, including the need to “underpin [our] position with an evidence base where possible” and to consult more widely with veterans.

Mr Twidale has commissioned a report to look at “best practice policy and advocacy”, including an analysis of “contemporary mechanisms for consulting, developing and agreeing [on] policy positions and approaches to advocacy strategy”.

When completed the report will be released for consultation.

In addition to the role played by RSL Victoria’s state executive to “debate and decide” policy and advocacy positions based on input from regional forums, annual conference deliberations and from direct submissions from members and sub-branches, Mr Twidale says the national office of the RSL has an important part to play in policy setting and advocacy.

“[T]he national president is very active in this space directly with the federal Government. It is therefore important that RSL Victoria is mindful of and where possible align with views of RSL Australia and other States.”

While RSL Victoria is part of a federated structure, Mr Twidale says the “further development” of RSL Victoria’s approach to policy setting and group advocacy is a key objective in the state branch’s strategic direction.

Specifically, Mr Twidale told AVN that RSL Victoria needs to:

  • Consult more widely and frequently with veterans

  • Ensure there is an evidence base that underpins policy positions

  • Deliver a more timely and transparent approach to setting policy positions

  • Set agreed strategy approaches for each policy position

Mr Twidale has also foreshadowed steps to modernise RSL Victoria and ensure a “fit for purpose” organisation for veterans.

He believes RSL Victoria’s Strategic Direction 2019-2023 is “fundamental” to the organisation’s future: “Getting this right underpins everything.”

To this end, Mr Twidale has outlined his key priorities as CEO:

  • Attract, engage and harness the energy of all veterans; in particular, as a volunteer-based organisation, it is critical to encourage younger veterans to move into leadership roles.

  • Develop a modern and fit-for-purpose constitution that prepares RSL Victoria for the next 20-25 years. “We aim to modernise our approaches in how we work as a single RSL across Victoria.”

  • Make better use of the total resource pool available to the RSL, harnessed and targeted to core objectives including investment strategies that create sustainable income streams.

  • Continuous improvement towards best practice governance and compliance, including greater transparency, better communication and more consultative approaches.

Mr Twidale admits there will be obstacles to achieving RSL Victoria’s “mission”, including an aging member demographic, an over-reliance on annual fundraising appeals and a declining culture of volunteerism in society generally.

He also hit out at “deliberate undermining of the RSL reputation that diminishes our social license”.

However, Mr Twidale is unfazed by such obstacles and has announced that RSL Victoria will be taking a “reinvigorated approach” to supporting veterans in Victoria through the development of the RSL Victoria Resilient Veteran Strategy.

“This strategy will look at ways that RSL Victoria can implement a new state-wide operating model, implement veteran-centred programs, such as our soon to be announced Veteran Employment Program…and most excitingly a move to a single holistic case-management approach where the RSL supports the veteran through their personal life journey,” he told AVN.

Jamie Twidale CSM has been CEO of RSL Victoria since December 2019. He is a former Australian Regular Army officer and is a serving member of the Army Reserve. During his 22-year Army career he saw active service in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. He sits on the Victorian Veterans Council.


Leo D'Angelo Fisher is a regular columnist and Editor-at-Large at Australian Veteran News.

Connect with Leo on Twitter: @DAngeloFisher

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