Each year, members of the Kiama-Jamberoo RSL Sub-branch have financed ANZAC Day commemorations by passing around a bucket and selling pins and pens.
This year, however, they can’t do that and real anxiety is being felt about how the costs are going to be met.
In the aftermath of the recent Bergin Inquiry into the management of the State RSL, the organisation has lost its charitable status and sub-branches are no longer allowed to engage in fundraising or accept donations of any kind.
Kiama Sub-branch Treasurer Barrie Proctor told The Bugle that unless the limbo ends soon, they would be very close to running out of money by the end of the year.
“Even though we get tremendous support from Kiama Municipal Council, it still costs us several thousand dollars to print programs, install a PA system, obtain firearm permits, provide overnight security at the Blowhole for the 5am Dawn Service equipment, and provide floral tributes for all of our events,” he says.
Vice President of Kiama-Jamberoo Sub-branch retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary McKay, MC, says the ban on fundraising has severely hamstrung all sub-branches across the state.
The President of Gerringong RSL and former CEO of the RSL NSW, Glenn Kolomeitz, says that while the situation in his sub-branch is not as dire, they are drawing down on their investments to sustain their operations.
“We have already been approached by Nowra to help them, and we will do what we can to help Kiama-Jamberoo if asked but there is only so much we can do.”
Gary McKay says, “I think people will be shocked to hear how bad things are. There is no way our community isn’t going to have the ANZAC Day ceremonies they deserve – we just don’t know how we are going to pay for it.”
Kiama-Jamberoo Sub-branch President Lindsay Delamont is adamant about keeping the traditions alive.
“We will still be having our service out at Jamberoo on Saturday 21 April and the Dawn Service at Blowhole Point and the Main Service with the March on Wednesday 25 April”, he says.
Asked if there was any way the public could assist in resolving this dilemma, Gary McKay says, ‘We as a Sub-branch are strictly forbidden from soliciting donations, but if anyone wanted to pick up the tab for some our expenses it would take a great deal of stress off our meagre funds and the RSL as a whole.”
He says Kiama Council already provides much more support than other councils, and the Sub-branch does not feel it can ask for any more.
“They do a superb job in so many ways, for which we feel so blessed.”
Glenn Kolomeitz says it would be a great solution if the community could come forward to help.
“ANZAC Day is a community event, by and for the community, that the RSL has the honour of hosting.
“We cannot not conduct ANZAC services.
“Paying for certain aspects of the events in Kiama and Jamberoo is a good way for the community to say this is our event and we appreciate the work you put into organising it.”
Details: If any organisations or individuals are in the position to offer help covering the overheads, please contact The Bugle on 0412 415 101