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Groundbreaking MOU future-proofs community support for veterans and their families

Veterans will be better supported in the transition back to civilian life thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between RSL NSW, ClubsNSW, and the RSL & Services Clubs Association. In addition to the signing of the MOU on Monday at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, RSL NSW handed over a $3.1m cheque to fund additional services through the RSL LifeCare.

L-R: RSL & Services Clubs Association Chair Dean Thomas, RSL & Services Clubs Association CEO Margot Smith, RSL NSW President Ray James, ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis RSL NSW Chair Sophie Ray, ClubsNSW Chair Dr George Peponis, RSL NSW CEO Jon Black

The MOU commits the parties to work together on supporting the findings of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide and identifies key policy areas where they can collaborate for better outcomes for veterans and their families.

This includes using club facilities as ‘veteran drop-in centres’, supporting clubs to offer free memberships and actively engaging with younger veterans and their families through social, physical, and employment initiatives.

ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said the commitment formalises the strong connection between RSL NSW and its sub-Branches, the club industry, and the veteran community and will help ensure the critical delivery of services and support in communities across the state.

“Clubs play a pivotal role in engaging veterans directly through social, sporting and community activities and have done so for more than a century. Many of the earliest clubs in the state were established to support and empower recently returned veterans directly,” Mr Landis said.

“This MoU shows our joint commitment to improving their lives and helping them transition back into civilian life. We are not waiting around on this; we are taking action now.”

As a further sign of commitment, a $3.1 million donation from RSL NSW and contributing sub-Branches was presented to its partner charity, RSL LifeCare Veteran Services at the Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

RSL NSW President Ray James said the multimillion-dollar donation reflects the commitment of veterans across the state. He also reflected on the efforts of countless RSL volunteers who are helping their mates in many ways, noting the impact of the ADF withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

“The donation will ensure the ongoing delivery of vital support by RSL LifeCare Veteran Services including physical and mental health, DVA claims and advocacy, education and employment, housing, income and finance, and social services to veterans and their families,” Mr James said.

“When the going gets tough, RSL NSW members get going by mobilising physical and financial resources to ensure that veterans and their families receive the hands-on support and services they need in their community, now and into the future.”

RSL & Services Clubs Association CEO Margot Smith said the organisation is excited about the evolution of the MoU with RSL NSW and now ClubsNSW.

“The MoU demonstrates the shared commitment we collectively have to positively impact veteran engagement in practical ways. RSL and services clubs are the glue that binds our communities across NSW, and we are stronger together.

“Both clubs and sub-Branches have the passion and the drive to support veterans in our communities – this MOU outlines tangible ways that we can do that,” Ms Smith said.

RSL LifeCare Board Chair, Sangeeta Venkatesan, said “The generous donation from RSL NSW and its sub-Branches will help to support the organisation’s ongoing service delivery, particularly in regional communities, including our Veteran Wellbeing Centres in Nowra and Wagga Wagga.

“The RSL LifeCare Veteran Services team working hard every day to make services more accessible to veterans and their families. We are looking to expand our Centres to more NSW regions while continuing to support veterans wherever they reside across the state through video and teleconferencing too. This would not be possible without the ongoing support and collaboration of RSL NSW and its sub-Branches.”

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