The RSL was formed in June 1916 by troops returning from WWI. Its aims were simple: to preserve the spirit of mateship formed amidst the carnage and horror of battle; to honour the memory of the fallen; and to help each other. The underlying philosophy of the League is mateship and this is as true now as when the League was first formed.
In 1916 there were no welfare services such as we know today. The League committed itself to provide for the sick, wounded and needy among those who have served and their dependents including pensions, medical attention, homes and suitable employment. As a result, the RSL was instrumental in the creation of the medical repatriation system and the introduction of service, disability and war widows’ pensions. The RSL was also responsible for the introduction of various employment and retraining programs and for many years operated its own employment bureau, child health program and vocational guidance service.
In effect, the RSL was the first national welfare agency in Australia and continues to maintain welfare as its prime function. In Victoria, the RSL maintains beds for veterans and their dependents; it provides an average of $2million per annum in grants and financial assistance as well as providing a network of welfare and pensions officers to assist veterans and their dependents with a range of support services including assistance with Veterans’ Affairs and Military pensions.
Affiliate and Social Membership of the RSL is available to the relatives and friends of service men and women.
The RSL remains as relevant today as it did in 1916.