The Returned and Services League, Australia (RSL) is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Defence Force.
The RSL's mission is to ensure that programs are in place for the well-being, care, compensation and commemoration of serving and ex-service Defence Force members and their dependents; and promote Government and community awareness of the need for a secure, stable and progressive Australia. However, even as late as the 1970s it had been an "inherently conservative" organisation, according to Professor John Blaxland.
At the top of the badge is the Crown signifying allegiance to Queen and country. Below the crown are the national flowers of Australia, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland: the wattle, the leek, the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock. In the centre of the badge are a sailor, a soldier, an airman and service woman marching with their arms linked, symbolising friendship and the unity of services and all ranks in comradeship. The red of the badge symbolises the blood tie of war. The white background stands for the purity of motive and the rendering of service without personal gain. The blue is a symbol of willingness to render service to a comrade anywhere under the sky.
The influence of the League comes from its founding days organising rituals for ANZAC Day dawn services and march, and Remembrance Day commemorations. However, even as early as the 1920s, the role of the League became controversial as it banned women from attending the dawn service because of their wailing. As well as arguing for veterans' benefits, it has entered other areas of political debate. It was politically conservative, Anglophilic, and monarchist.
The League is overseen by a National Executive that consists of the National President; the Deputy National President; State Branch Presidents for New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia; and the National Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the National Treasurer, the National Legal Adviser, the National Defence Adviser, and Veterans' Affairs Adviser.
Each State and Territory is a Branch of the National League and has a similar hierarchical structure that brings together the interests of the state members. Within each Branch, there are a series of Districts and Sub-branches that bring together the interests of members in a particular geographic area.
On 22 October 2016, legal advice provided by the law firm Henry Davis York which was commissioned by the RSLís New South Wales Branch indicated Mr White may have broken the law by receiving shares in $1 million in consulting fees while holding a voluntary position in the veteran's group. This led to many calls for White to step aside to rebuild public trust.
On Remembrance Day 2016, ABC News (Australia) announced that the New South Wales Branch of the RSL was at risk of losing its charity status as a result of the payment scandal. That the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission had concerns that the RSL may have not been meeting its obligations as a charity and warned that the ACNC may use its powers to revoke its charity status if it finds evidence that the ACNC rules have been broken. ŮIf we decide to take compliance action, which could potentially include revocation of charity status, we will publish this on the Charity Register and on our website,Ú said ACNC Assistant Commissioner David Locke.
The membership base of the licensed clubs differs significantly from membership of the League. Membership of the League does not automatically confer rights of entry or membership to a licensed club. In recent years, in some jurisdictions, serving members of the ADF are granted honorary membership to a licensed RSL (or similar) club.
RSL Care is one of Australia's largest providers of retirement living and aged care services with more than 28 retirement communities throughout Queensland and New South Wales and several others in development. Its history originated from an aged care hostel provided to accommodate 64 ex-servicemen that opened in Taringa, Queensland in 1938. A second facility for 80 residents was opened in Caboolture in 1947, and two more facilities in 1968 and 1975, respectively, including a 30-bed nursing home. Over the subsequent 35 years, the number and type of facilities expanded, as well as their geographic spread, throughout Queensland and into the Lake Macquarie area of NSW.