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RSL Queensland appoints new President following ACNC probe

Following a Direction from the ACNC, RSL Queensland has appointed a new President but voted against a skills-based Board

RSL Queensland has elected a new President following a review from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) earlier this year.

Tony Ferris was appointed to the position during the organisation’s State Congress. The organisation also voted to reject a skills-based Board in a new Constitution, which would have been crucial to meet its obligations to the ACNC.

“The Board will review the draft Constitution in light of [the] vote,” Ferris said. “We are very conscious of the need to modernise RSL Queensland’s governance model as we continue to implement reforms across the organisation.”

Ferris served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1979 to 1985. He joined the RSL in 2010 and was elected Sunshine Coast Region District President in 2014.

Ferris said he would continue the previous State President’s work in the organisation by, “modernising the organisation and communicating directly with our members”.

He said he was “honoured” to step into the role, adding: “RSL Queensland provides a wide range of health and wellbeing, employment, educating and advocacy services and we will continue to evolve to meet the demands of younger Defence personnel.”

Earlier this year ACNC Commissioner Gary Johns proposed a Direction to the RSL after a probe was triggered by a fringe benefits tax liability of more than $321,000 in 2016 that was owed by the RSL to the Australian Tax Office.

The investigation looked at the resources RSL Queensland gave to its directors, which accounted for monthly payments of out-of-pocket expenses. Because it did not have appropriate procedures in place, the RSL was unable to demonstrate how charitable funds equating to more than $400,000 were expended.

“To their credit, RSL Queensland have unanimously accepted the terms of the Direction, and have committed to implementing the reforms,” Johns said.

“This includes engaging a governance expert to oversee the implementation of a ‘Good Governance Guide’ as set out under the charity’s governance plan, and to conduct a review on the Board’s performance and effectiveness.”

Ferris said that a skills-based Board was crucial to RSL Queensland’s ability to meet its obligation as proposed by the ACNC. He added that he is determined to collaborate with ex-service organisations to provide services to veterans.

“The RSL is only as strong as its members and I urge current and former Defence members to get involved at this exciting time in our long history.”

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