The RSL – Supporting our community
Many people believe that the RSL only assist veterans and their families when in need. This is most definitely our primary objective, and the RSL have been doing it since 1916.
The RSL effectively cover Australia with a network of state branches and Sub Branches and we provide support to current and former members of the defence forces including those currently deployed overseas and in particular, those wounded in action. We provide many advocacy services to ensure our veterans get their relevant entitlements so that they can live their post-service life with dignity.
In addition to this however, we are a community organisation and our community support is wide and varied including:
• Local sporting groups and clubs
• Educational institutions with grants and scholarships
• Emergency services with equipment and funding
• Health and aged care
• Kindred organisations such as Legacy
• Other mainstream charities doing great work across Victoria.
Below you can read about some of the most worthy community projects we undertake every year.
The Greensborough RSL Sub-Branch established the Living Spirit Fellowship in 2010 because it wanted to nurture younger generations to understand the sacrifices made by many men and women of the Australian Defence Forces in ensuring the great freedom we enjoy today is never forgotten. The eight annual Fellowship provides for the successful applicant and his/her guardian to join an escorted group for an 8 to 10 day tour of Thailand and Myanmar which includes the ANZAC Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass on 25 April 2018. It covers their airfares, accommodation, most meals and related expenses.
The winners of the seven previous Fellowships were:
- 2016-17 Luke Stella from Parade College, Bundoora (the runner-up was a student from Eltham College)
- 2015-16 Bridget James from OLMC, Heidelberg (the runner-up was a student from Eltham College)
- 2014-15 Alana Roberts from OLMC, Heidelberg (the runner-up was a student from the Catholic Ladies College, Eltham who was also awarded the same tour to Hellfire Pass)
- 2013-14 Aydan Hussein from Mill Park Secondary College;
- 2012-13 Laura Muir from Loyola College Bundoora;
- 2011-12 Chelsea Heaney from Eltham High School; and
- 2010-11 Jake Breheny from Greensborough Secondary College.
In previous years, invitations were sent to all 18 secondary schools and colleges in our surrounding area inviting their Year 10, 11 and 12 students to apply for the Fellowship. Applications have been received from students residing in Box Hill North, Briar Hill, Bundoora, Diamond Creek, Doreen, Eltham, Eltham North, Greensborough, Heidelberg, Heidelberg Heights, Hurstbridge, Ivanhoe, Lower Plenty, Macleod, Mill Park, Montmorency, Plenty, Preston, Rosanna, Viewbank, Watsonia and Wattle Glen.
Students are required to make a submission in accordance with the Application Form that includes a Questionnaire Section covering several subject matters. The four member Selection Panel assess the correctness of their answers along with their stated expectations of the proposed visit to Hellfire Pass, Myanmar and what message they would bring back to the community. Interviews are normally conducted with the top three to five applicants in November. The Fellowship has been largely funded by the generous financial support of major sponsors, Cannon Toyota Heidelberg, Audio Clinic Greensborough and the Dyson Group together with RSL Sub-Branch funds and donations.
All previous winners have commented favourably on their experience. In his submission, the winner of the 2016-17 Fellowship, Luke Stella stated that it was expected to be a life changing event. In her submission, the winner of the 2015-16 Fellowship, Bridget James stated that she wanted to walk in the footsteps of her great grandfather who died as a prisoner of war at Hellfire Pass. The winner of the 2014-15 Fellowship, Alana Roberts stated she expected the tour to be “a once in a lifetime experience”. On her return she said the experience was “AMAZING”. Aydan Hussein, the winner of the 2013-14 Fellowship, said he “enjoyed the tour immensely and it was a great cultural and historical learning experience”.
Information Packs containing the Application Form will be available and will be distributed.to all 18 surrounding secondary schools and colleges in the near future. Students who are interested in applying for the next Fellowship, are encouraged to ask their Year Co-ordinator or teacher for a copy of the Application Form. Alternatively, Application Forms may be collected from the receptionist at the Greensborough RSL Sub-Branch or requested by email from: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the current year close on Friday 3rd November 2017.
In May 2015, Greensborough RSL became aware of the circumstances of a young veteran whose story had been published in the local Leader newspaper. Our CEO, Barry Thompson, on reading the article, bought Joel’s plight to the attention of the Committee with the message, ‘we have to help this young man’.
Joel was a Regular Army Infantry soldier who served seven months in Afghanistan with the 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment as a rifleman. He was awarded a commendation from the USAF for his high standard of soldiering and professionalism. He was also an outstanding footballer who represented Army in inter-service competitions and enjoyed Army life – the all round contemporary soldier of the modern soldiering era.
But all that changed forever on 31st August 2014 when Joel had a fall over a staircase and broke his C2 and C5 vertebrae. The fall left Joel with spinal cord damage as well as fractured thoracic vertebrae and his sternum. At the time he underwent six hours of surgery and doctors were able to stabilise his neck fractures to prevent further spinal cord damage by inserting a titanium cage and fusing the C4 to the C6.
The injury that night left Joel a C5 incomplete quadriplegic, meaning there is still some messages getting through the spinal cord and the extent of his recovery is unknown. Joel has no movement in his legs and his upper body can only activate his biceps, forearms and wrists.
Whilst his injuries occurred in Adelaide where Joel was based, he was airlifted from the Royal Adelaide Hospital to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital followed by 12 months at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Hospital.
To date, the Sub-Branch has assisted with medical expenses, equipment and home improvements to make his living conditions ‘wheels’ friendly.
Joel will be undertaking two months of rehabilitation in the US (San Diego) under the banner of Project Walk during June and July 2016. Project Walk provides an improved quality of life for people with disabilities through intense activity-based recovery programmes, education, training, research and development. The treatment on offer is not yet available in Australia.
He hopes to be able to come back stronger, more independent and knowledgeable about his injury and how to keep succeeding in his recovery.
Please follow Joel's journey on our website and Facebook page as we share his reports from the US.
Greensborough RSL would like to thank the following sub-branches for their assistance in helping to get Joel to the US: Anzac House, Bairnsdale, Bentleigh, Box Hill, Dandenong, Glenroy, Longbeach, Reservoir, Sunshine and Watsonia.
As we tell those who buy a poppy, your donation helps the Joel’s of this world.
Over the years the RSL have made it possible for numerous deserving children to attend the annual RSL supported Portsea Camp. This year 6 lucky children were selected from numerous Banyule Primary Schools and yesterday driven to Portsea by our CEO, Barry Thompson and our Secretary, Bill Telfer.
As you can see all the children were very excited about their little adventure away, and after a quick lunch at Maccas it was off to Portsea to start their week of fun and games.
Have fun kids!