The RSL is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected national organisations.
In June 1916, a conference of state-based returned soldiers associations recommended the formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA). The RSSILA was founded by returning soldiers from the First World War with the aim of continuing to provide the camaraderie, concern, and mateship shown among Australian troops while they were at war. Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria were the founding states, with New South Wales admitted to the League the following year, and Western Australia in 1918. In 1927, the Australian Capital Territory formed a branch and was admitted.
RSL Clubs in their various forms share a common history, a common purpose and a common place in the hearts and minds of Australians. Clubs were created in communities across Australia to provide a venue for current and ex-serve personnel and their families to enjoy a safe and comfortable place to gather, to enjoy each other’s company, and to share a meal and socialise.
As well, RSL Clubs serve as a place of remembrance for the contribution and sacrifice of all Australia Defence personnel. RSL Clubs opened their doors, and their social memberships, to the broader Australia community to enable them to share in these benefits and contribute towards the goal of better facilities and services for veterans.
Through this expanded patronage, RSL and Services Clubs have been able to significantly improve and expand their facilities and services over the years for the benefit of the whole community. These clubs continue to have, as their primary focus, the welfare and support of veterans of Australian and Allied Service personnel and their families, as well as commemorating the efforts of all who have served our nation in uniform.
In 1965, the RSSAILA’s name was changed to the Returned Services League of Australia (RSLA). With a change of crown in 1971, the badge remained in use until 1990. In 1990, the name was changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL). This last name change reflects the fact that membership of the RSL is now open to all ex-service personnel regardless of active service status. For a hundred years the Returned and Services League (RSL) has ensured that adequate care, advocacy and financial assistance is provided to past and present members of the Australian Defence Force, and remains as relevant today as it was in 1916.
- Information sources, Australian War Memorial, RSL & Services Clubs Association, RSL National