RSLWA Chief Executive Officer, John McCourt, has moved to put the facts about so-called plans to divest properties on land which is owned by the League.
Recent and ongoing social media comment relating to the future of the Eastern Region RSL Sub-Branch following discussions with the Sub-Branch President has been incorrect, misleading and in many cases riddled with threats and profanities.
Mr. McCourt said Veterans have every right to express their feelings and concerns but the facts need to be first laid out.
- The Eastern Region property is in disrepair and to bring it up to today’s building code would be at substantial costs.
- The RSLWA Director of Operations had been discussing with the Sub-Branch, the future of the building and had informed office bearers that one option could be to relocate or co-locate members to a better facility.
- The local Shire Council was subsequently informed by the CEO that this could be an option with the funds raised from the sale of the land to go towards Eastern Region members for relocation or co-location.
- Other options were for RSLWA to redevelop the site including new premises for the Sub-Branch, but this depended on Council approval and rezoning.
- Comments on social media, all of which have been made public, suggest that RSLWA is looking to quit its 37 other properties and move the Sub-Branches which occupy such land. This is utter nonsense. There was – and is – no plan. Such statements are completely misleading.
- The facts are that State Branch has had talks with a number of Sub-Branches with such Sub-Branches welcoming future options including the land being redeveloped with the result being the Sub-Branch would have a brand new home.
- The reality is that of our 129 Sub-Branches, 91 of them do not have their Sub-Branch on RSL property. They, in fact, operate out of a mix of venues including Council offices, bowling clubs, community centres, football premises and some around the kitchen table at home.
After the CEO met with the Eastern Region Sub-Branch on Friday 2 November 2018, the CEO committed to formally responding, in writing and did so on Monday 5 November 2018. This letter stated the following:
State Branch appreciates the desire of your members to remain at its current premises. While my job as Chief Executive Officer is to work with Sub-Branches for the best possible outcome of supporting the needs of veterans and their families including advocacy, welfare, mental health and social inclusion.
While State Branch is not of the view it should continue to lease the Council-owned land adjacent to the Eastern Regional RSL property for reasons discussed, I can provide you with an absolute assurance that nothing would be undertaken with regard to the future of your Sub-Branch building without close liaison and discussion with your Sub-Branch committee and its members.
Further to the above, I am comfortable with the Sub-Branch continuing to discuss continued occupancy of the Sub-Branch building with the Bassendean Shire Council including any potential that may arise for possible redevelopment of the land that could see the Sub-Branch co-located with other conforming usage.
Mr. McCourt reiterated that anyone had a right to speak their mind including on social media but a continuance of threats and profanity is not acceptable.
“I have a duty to support and defend my staff and, as such, any further direct threats will be taken seriously and action will be taken.”
“The key role of State Branch is to support Sub-Branches and we have been doing that with passion and commitment.”
“I too am a veteran and am proud of my service, my country and my fellow RSLWA members. I can also state that the RSWLA Board is comprised of professional, caring and committed men and women who have members’ best interests at heart.”
John McCourt | 08 9287 3799