Leeton RSL Sub-branch reacts to ban on fundraising

THE NSW Returned Services League (RSL) has voluntarily suspended all fundraising activities, but the impact wouldn’t hit too hard in Leeton. 

These activities include barbecues, cake stalls and raffles. The move comes after the RSL’s new leadership at a state level found some of its processes were illegal under NSW charity laws.

“We can’t do anything for a while,” Leeton RSL Sub-branch president John Power said. 

“We’ve been informed about it and told to stop any fundraising activities we may have happening. 

“From how we can see it, it will just be a temporary thing until all of the proper processes can be put in place. The new people at the top want to make sure everything is above board and follows the correct process.”

The Leeton RSL Sub-branch doesn’t hold many regular fundraisers, but does rely on some of those activities to help returned servicemen and women. 

Every year they sell badges and merchandise for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. Street stalls are often held, with Leeton’s RSL Women’s Auxiliary also unable to conduct any fundraising activities at present. 

Mr Power was hopeful the RSL would be able to iron out any kinks ahead of the Remembrance Day “poppy drive”, which does generate vital funds. 

“There’s not really too much we can do about it … we have to wait for them to work it out and then reinstate what we can do and let us know what we can’t,” he said. “We understand where they are coming from because they want to make sure everything is right by the laws.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald the problem is understood to centre on the fact much of the fundraising – in particular the sales of Remembrance Day poppies and Anzac Day badges – is legally the responsibility of the state branch based at Anzac House, but about half the money raised stays with the sub-branches and auxiliaries.

The new people at the top want to make sure everything is above board and follows the correct process.

Leeton RSL Sub-branch president John Power

While Anzac House has broad oversight of the way the sub-branches spend their money, it can't currently match the fundraising dollars to those spent at the local level.

The RSL said it was "working on a strategy to rectify this situation urgently" and was conscious of "our great responsibility to be accountable for the public money we are entrusted with".