May 19th 2011
Do you want Magnetic Island's RSL to continue?
When hundreds of Magnetic Islanders gather each year before dawn at Alma Bay to commemorate ANZAC Day it would seem incomprehensible that the organisation which operates this major public event is actually on the verge of collapse. But, this week Magnetic Times was approached by the Magnetic Island RSL Sub-Branch to advertise a second AGM after the first, on May 15, was abandoned after nobody nominated for President. With the demise of the RSL on Magnetic possibly just over a week away, we spoke to Acting President, Keith Chambers.
But, firstly, here is the Public Notice the RSL placed today:
NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
As the AGM held on 15th May 2011 failed to elect a committee the meeting was adjourned until 10.00 am on the 29th May 2009.
All members, both Service and Citizens Auxiliary are urged to attend. If a committee is not elected at this meeting, under the Incorporations Act 1981 (Qld) the RSL Magnetic Island sub-branch, by necessity, must wind up.
We only need a few hours of four peoples time a month to form a full committee and make this RSL work. We have been struggling to fill the committee for years now, with only the same few people willing to stand up, year after year and help out. Please, give them a break and come along and help us and the community out.
The Magnetic Island RSL Sub Branch has not only been supporting the Magnetic Island veteran community with welfare support, but has also been very supportive of the general Island community in many ways for over 50 years. We are however, currently struggling to survive both financially and administratively, and it is now time for the community to take notice of us and help us survive, not only for the welfare of Island veterans but to ensure that the RSL Hall remains for the use and enjoyment of the community, as well as a place of respect and remembrance.
17th May 2011
GH: Were there any nominations for the committee or is it just a couple of positions to fill?
KC: We didn't get a nomination for President so we could not proceed to the other office bearers.
GH:Can you clarify for the general public if committee members need to be former or currently serving members of the military?
KC: The President has to be a returned or serving member. One member of the committee does not have to be but cannot be the President.
GH: People may think that the RSL is supported externally by Veterans Affairs and the broader RSL structure. Can you clarify just how dependent on the local community the MI RSL is?
KC: We can occasionally apply for grants but we are entirely self funded, generally only through bar takings. We have been paying a lot of money for local tradesmen to fix things around the hall. In future, to remain sustainable we need to rely on donations of labour and tradesmen to get us through. The Island is hurting with the reduction of visitors and so are we.The community use this hall and we pay for all the rates, electricity, water, maintenance, cleaning and bar staff. This is going to have to change to reflect the true cost of running a community venue like this if we do not get community support.
GH: The AGM notice mentioned how the RSL supports the wider community but how does it support its veterans these days?
KC: Yes this is our main charter and responsibility. We provide welfare support to the Island veterans. We always will and do this function as our number one priority. The fact that we provide a community social venue is just an ancillary function and benefit of providing this service. Geoff Barlow is our welfare officer.
GH: Across the community sector people seem to be less prepared to get involved and help out with orgs such as the RSL and many others. Why do you think this is so?
KC: People seem to have less available time on there hands nowadays. All community clubs like Lions and Rotary are also struggling to get numbers. We rely on the same members all the time to fill the executive positions and ensure we run a creditable welfare function to veterans and a community meeting place. Our members are getting older and health is failing. We need to continue to support these members and we need new fresh blood on the executive for us to continue to do it.
GH: What do you think are the rewards (personal or otherwise) for volunteers who are prepared to get involved with the RSL?
KC: Service veterans, by virtue of their military service, have done more than most, more than people can imagine, to warrant the provision of an Island veteran community meeting place that provides that essential welfare function as well as the very important ceremonial aspect that runs our Remembrance and ANZAC Day services. To lead and be a part of the executive team is about supporting your mates like they did to us when we served. It is about having pride in your community and giving up a little of your time to let the greater North Queensland region know about the great work we do on the Island.
We supported the repair of the Community Care bus last year. We nurture Navy Cadets and the younger generation so that they become aware of the service of our members. We support the older veterans of the Island by providing a venue where like minded and experienced veterans can come together, enjoy a meal and fellowship to assist in any mental health issues.
Being a part of the executive on the MIRSL Sub Branch is about team work and communication. It teaches you business models and skills that you can be proud to take away. The veteran and general community look up to you to make decisions on their behalf for the betterment of veterans. We attempt to, within the significant corporate governance and financial constraints, run a venue that operates in a club like environment so that visitors and locals alike can enjoy the Friday night markets and Sunday roast nights. It is very satisfying to see a busy Friday night market that your team have made happen. For the relatively small investment in time, the benefits are great.
Anybody interested in finding out more about the RSL on Magnetic and how they might help should email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Story and file photo: George Hirst
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