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RSL National President steps down amid ACNC probe

The President of RSL National has announced his resignation during a board meeting following an ACNC investigation into governance failures

RSL National President Robert Dick has stepped down amid an investigation into the charity’s serious governance and accountability failures.

The resignation follows a series of investigations conducted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) into governance issues within a number of RSL charities. Dick’s resignation is part of a wider plan to restore donor confidence.

The ACNC said the move allows the need for new leadership, with Commissioner Gary Johns adding: “Both the RSL National Board and the ACNC are committed to working together to improve the governance and accountability of the charity.”

The ACNC issued a formal direction to RSL National in February, requiring it to engage a governance expert to conduct a review into the charity’s governance practices. KPMG – a global network providing tax and audit services – are carrying out the probe.

The work by KPMG will set out a detailed Action Plan that RSL National must follow to ensure it has received governance expertise to carry out the Action Plan. The ACNC will also work closely with the charity to guarantee best practices are followed.

“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.

“RSL National will soon have a clear path forward and know what steps to take to get back on track,” Johns said, adding the ACNC would be monitoring all progress.

Last month, RSL Victoria became the fourth state to be investigated over governance failures, following on from a probe into RSL NSW and RSL Lifecare. Shortly after, RSL Queensland appointed a new President but voted against a skills-based Board.

When it was announced the ACNC would work with RSLs, Johns said: “Unfortunately, poor governance practices and misconduct have been far too common in the past, and this has damaged the reputation of one of Australia’s most well-known charities.

“The RSLs must now improve their governance and accountability, to regain trust and ensure our veterans and their families are getting the best possible support and care.”

Once governance and compliance has improved, a new RSL National President will be elected by RSL members. Until then, RSL ACT President, John King, will step in.

“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,” King said.

“We will soon appoint a new Chair and Board members, and we will announce these appointments in due course. Over the coming months the Board, including newly appointed board members, will focus on implementing the recommendations in the Action Plan.”

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