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RSL Victoria fails to meet governance standards

RSL Victoria is the fourth state to be investigated over governance standards

The national charity regulator has found RSL Victoria has failed to meet key governance standards, including around financial management.

A letter obtained by the ABC found the Victorian branch have signed a compliance agreement with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) to try to fix the problems. It is the fourth state RSL to be investigated.

The letter was sent out to sub-branch Presidents on the final day for postal-ballot vote returns in the state’s executive election in which President Dr Rob Webster, Senior Vice-President Lee Webb and Treasurer John Cullen were re-elected unopposed.

In the letter, Webster asked sub-branch Presidents for confidentiality.

“As you can appreciate the information provided in this letter, along with the context of next week’s presentation, is highly sensitive and has the potential to impact on the reputation of the League in Victoria if broadcast widely.

“As such I appreciate your discretion in your handling of this information.”

The RSL and its executives have declined to comment and the ACNC are legally prevented from providing any more information during the investigation.

The letter identified three governance standards that were not met – ensuring the charity is operating on a not-for-profit basis, office holders practice care and diligence and that office holders manage a charity’s financial affairs in a responsible manner.

The compliance action will require the RSL makes policy changes for financial management, conducts a review of the honorarium system and reviews the current state of decision-making frameworks.

Additionally, the RSL’s state executive must undertake governance training and provide full disclosure of the compliance to the state conference.

In the letter, Webster said “pleasingly the ACNC acknowledges the Victorian Branch did make voluntary disclosure” and “has already taken proactive and prompt action.”

The ACNC acting Commissioner, Prue Monument, will address RSL Victoria’s state conference about the compliance agreement. However, like the investigation itself, sub-branch Presidents were not made aware of this until the final day of the election.

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