Our Memorial to the residents who served in world war one and two has been
Barwon Heads RSL
In February 2011 the Annual General Meeting of the Barwon Heads RSL Sub-Branch was convened. The committee positions of Secretary and Treasurer were vacant following the decision of the previous office bearer not to seek re-election. No nominations were received from the floor and the President therefore adjourned the meeting for a month to permit members to consider their positions in the attempt to find volunteers to hold these offices. Advice from the RSL State Branch was that the committee was not legal unless a Secretary and Treasurer could be found.
At the March reconvened meeting there were not sufficient members present to form a quorum despite advertising the meeting in the local media and a letter sent to every member. The meeting was closed without an election. After discussion between the President, Vice-President and RSL State Branch the decision to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting on 17 May 2011 was taken.
The Extraordinary General Meeting was held in the Barwon Heads RSL Sub-Branch premises. At that meeting a resolution to seek the best terms possible for an amalgamation with the Ocean Grove RSL Sub-Branch was passed with only one vote against.
Negotiations with Ocean Grove RSL Sub-Branch were commenced and an amalgamation agreement drafted. The RSL State Branch were forwarded a copy of the amalgamation agreement had no objections to it.
The most important points from the agreement are:
I believe that this agreement is as good as we could hope for, since it ensures the continuation of the Barwon Heads ANZAC and Remembrance Day activities.
On 1 September 2011, all financial members of the Barwon Heads RSL Sub-branch were automatically transferred to the new Sub-branch register. In itself, this is an advantage because members of the new Sub-branch are regarded as members of the Club Grove and can make use of the facilities provided by that establishment at a 10% discount whenever it is open for business.
At the end of this year when membership renewal is due, the new Sub-branch will issue renewal notices similar to those issued in previous years by the Barwon Heads Sub-branch. However, at that time renewal payments will be received by the new entity.
The new entity maintains most of its records electronically on computer and also delivers many of its notices to members by e-mail. This significantly reduces the postage costs of the Sub-branch. Those who do not have access to e-mail will continue to receive a paper copy of any notices distributed.
The first general meeting of the Ocean Grove Barwon Heads RSL Sub-branch was conducted at Club Grove commencing on 19 September 2011, and the charter for the new organisation was officially presented by the State Branch Chief Executive Officer, Lt.Col Michael Annett. Several Barwon Heads members attended that meeting and some made use of the free transport provided.
One of the questions I am repeatedly asked concerns the future of the War Memorial located at the Barwon Heads RSL building. At a meeting some years ago the membership resolved that should the Sub-Branch cease to exist the memorial would be moved to another site at the Community Hall. While I do not see this happening in the very near future, I do believe it will happen and I do not think there will be opposition from the Community Hall Committee or the Barwon Heads Community.
Another question concerns the future of the building and the land. The property is in a prime location and is valuable in its own right. As far as I am aware there are no plans for it to be sold although I cannot definitely say that will not happen in the future. While that would be sad, it is also a sad fact that, according to the RSLís own research, approximately half of the existing RSL Sub-Branches will not be in existence in ten years time.
This is because the vast numbers of World War II veterans are growing ever older and in ten years it will be more than 75 years since that war ended. There are no surviving World War I veterans. Since 1945 Australia has fought in other conflicts but the numbers involved have far smaller than those involved in World War I and World War II. Thus membership of the RSL has been dwindling although public interest in commemorations such as ANZAC Day is increasing.
Many of the veteran membership of those Sub-Branches that have closed or amalgamated and will close or amalgamate over the coming years have a sense of failure that I believe is completely unjustified. It is more that their job has been done and done well. They should be justifiably proud of their achievements often in the face of bureaucratic indifference, penny pinching bean counters and political double-speak.