RSL National President Robert Dick resigned at the charity’s board meeting on Thursday, amid an investigation into the organisation’s governance and accountability issues.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission said Mr Dick’s decision to step down was taken to “put the interests of the charity and the RSL first.”
The Bergin inquiry – which reported on RSL NSW, DefenceCare and the charity’s aged-care arm RSL Lifecare – along with the ACNC’s own investigations, led to the investigation of RSL National.
Spending by the RSL NSW had fallen into the spotlight after it was discovered that the former state president Don Rowe had spend $475,000 on his corporate credit card over four years.
The national charity regulator directed RSL National in February to enlist a governance expert to review its board and governance practices, and develop an action plan to address its shortcomings.
The ACNC said Mr Dick’s resignation acknowledges the need for new leadership to implement “significant changes” once the plan – developed with KPMG – is finalised at the end of this month.
“The governance improvement Action Plan resulting from the KPMG review will contain a clear set of recommendations to address current, critical governance issues and the need for a broader, more strategic process of reform and improvement,” ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns said.
“RSL National will soon have a clear path forward and know what steps it must take to get back on track.”
RSL ACT president John King will fill the vacant role until new appointments are made.
“RSL National is committed to improving its governance and accountability, in order to fulfil our important role as the peak body of RSL in Australia,” said Mr King.
RSL members will have to wait until “governance and compliance is improved” before being allowed to elect a new RSL National president.
DVA Minister – RSL Continues Supporting Veteran Community
MINISTER for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has today reiterated the importance of the Returned and Services League (RSL) to the veteran community following the announcement that Robert Dick has stood down as National President of the RSL.
“I thank Mr Dick for his 21 years of service in the Royal Australian Air Force and his significant contribution to the RSL and veteran community and wish him well in his future endeavours,” Mr Chester said.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the RSL and Mr Dick’s successor in the future to ensure that our ex-service men and women receive the services and support they need.”
“The RSL has played a vital role in supporting the veteran community since it was established over 100 years ago by offering care, financial assistance, advocacy and commemorative services,” Mr Chester said.
“The Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first, and working with the RSL and other ex-service organisations is an important part of this commitment.”