The Returned and Services League, Australia (RSL) is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Defence Force.
|Returned and Services League|
|Affiliations||Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL)|
|Returned Sailor's Soldier's Airmen's Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA)|
The RSL's mission is to ensure that programs are in place for the well-being, care, compensation and commemoration of serving and ex-service Defence Force members and their dependents; and promote Government and community awareness of the need for a secure, stable and progressive Australia. However, even as late as the 1970s it had been an "inherently conservative" organisation, according to Professor John Blaxland.
The League evolved out of concern for the welfare of returned servicemen from the First World War. In 1916, a conference recommended the formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), which included representation from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. New South Wales was admitted to the League the following year, Western Australia in 1918. In 1927, the Australian Capital Territory formed a branch and was admitted. During the inter-war period (i.e., 1919 to 1939), the RSSILA was recognized as the appropriate body to represent the interests of returned Australian servicemen, in exchange for extending political co-operation to the Nationalist Party of Prime Minister Stanley Bruce. Beyond this co-operation, the RSSILA was noted for its right-wing politics, in 1919 drawing upon its membership to form a 2,000-strong paramilitary force called the "Army to fight Bolshevism", and permitting various right-wing Australian militia groups access to its membership lists to convince returned servicemen to join them.
In 1940, the name of the League changed to the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA), and a subsequent change of name took effect in 1965, as the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL). Two more name changes occurred: in 1983, to Returned Services League of Australia Limited (RSL), and in 1990, to Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL). The objects of the League remain relatively unchanged from its first incorporation.
At the top of the badge is the Crown signifying allegiance to Queen and country. Below the crown are the national flowers of Australia, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland: the wattle, the leek, the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock. In the centre of the badge are a sailor, a soldier, an airman and service woman marching with their arms linked, symbolising friendship and the unity of services and all ranks in comradeship. The red of the badge symbolises the blood tie of war. The white background stands for the purity of motive and the rendering of service without personal gain. The blue is a symbol of willingness to render service to a comrade anywhere under the sky.
The badge may only be worn by members of the League; and, moreover, it is an offence under the laws of most Australian States/Territories for an individual to wear an RSL badge (a) that has not been issued specifically to them by the RSL, and (b) unless they are entitled to wear the badge, at that time, under the rules of the League (e.g., a non-financial member is not permitted to wear the badge until their fees are paid).
The influence of the League comes from its founding days organising rituals for ANZAC Day dawn services and march, and Remembrance Day commemorations. However, even as early as the 1920s, the role of the League became controversial as it banned women from attending the dawn service because of their wailing. As well as arguing for veterans' benefits, it has entered other areas of political debate. It was politically conservative, Anglophilic, and monarchist.
Many veterans from the Vietnam War found the RSL, dominated by the ranks of World War II veterans, an unwelcoming, alien environment, and chose not to participate, but have over the past 20 years become actively involved. This may have been reflective of the changing status of Vietnam veterans in the 1970s and 80s. (See also Social attitudes and treatment of Vietnam veterans). Fewer World War 2 veterans is another factor as the youngest survivors are in their 90's, as at 2018. Even the youngest Vietnam veterans are approaching 70 years old.
Nevertheless, the focus of the RSL is above all on the welfare of Australian men and women serving in the armed forces. It has advocated for veterans entitlements, the protection of former battlefields and the rights of serving soldiers, sailors and airmen. The RSL also ensures that those who have served the country are commemorated for their service by providing funeral information to those who have served with the deceased and handing out individual red poppy flowers at the funeral to ensure that the deceased service to their country is acknowledged (see In Flanders Fields). In 2003 Peter Phillips, the National President, endorsed a statement criticising the decision of the Howard government to send forces to Iraq without a mandate from a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The League is overseen by a National Executive that consists of the National President; the Deputy National President; State Branch Presidents for New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia; and the National Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the National Treasurer, the National Legal Adviser, the National Defence Adviser, and Veterans' Affairs Adviser.
The National CEO has operational control of the National Office. In 2015 the redevelopment of the site of the Office on Constitution Avenue, Campbell, in Canberra commenced. A new building should be completed in 2019. In the interim, the National Office is in temporary accommodation at 7–9 Geelong Street, Fyshwick.
Each State and Territory is a Branch of the National League and has a similar hierarchical structure that brings together the interests of the state members. Within each Branch, there are a series of Districts and Sub-branches that bring together the interests of members in a particular geographic area.
|Order||Rank||Name||Postnominals||Period in office||Term of office|
|1||Brigadier General||William Kinsey Bolton||CBE, VD||1916–1919||3 years|
|2||Captain||Sir Gilbert Dyett||CMG||1919–1946||27 years|
|3||Colonel||Sir Eric Millhouse||KC||1946–1950||4 years|
|4||Sergeant||Sir George Holland||CBE, MM||1950–1960||10 years|
|5||Lieutenant Colonel||Sir Arthur Lee||KBE, MC & Bar||1960–1974||14 years|
|6||Brigadier||Sir William Hall||KBE, DSO, ED||1974–1978||4 years|
|7||Captain||Sir William Keys||AC, OBE, MC||1978–1988||10 years|
|8||Brigadier||Alf Garland||AM||1988–1993||5 years|
|9||Major General||Digger James||AC, MBE, MC||1993–1997||4 years|
|10||Major General||Peter Phillips||AO, MC||1997–2003||6 years|
|11||Major General||Bill Crews||AO||2003–2009||6 years|
|12||Rear Admiral||Ken Doolan||AO, RAN||2009–2016||7 years|
|13||Major||Rod White||AM, RFD||2016–2017||8 months|
|14||Warrant Officer||Robert Dick||2017–present||Incumbent|
On 4 October 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC News reported that RSL national president Rod White, a retired Major of the Australian Army Reserve, received a share in nearly $1 million in consulting fees paid by an arm of the veterans’ organisation called RSL LifeCare and failed to disclose conflicts of interest. Mr White denied any wrongdoing and is quoted as saying "I believe I have personally fulfilled my obligations legally and ethically and I'm just absolutely surprised at your questioning of my integrity in that regard," when responding to questions from an ABC News reporter.
On 22 October 2016, legal advice provided by the law firm Henry Davis York which was commissioned by the RSL’s New South Wales Branch indicated Mr White may have broken the law by receiving shares in $1 million in consulting fees while holding a voluntary position in the veteran's group. This led to many calls for White to step aside to rebuild public trust.
On 7 November 2016, ABC News reported that Mr White agreed to stand down pending an investigation into the consultancy fee payments and that new documents obtained by ABC reveal that the amount of consultancy fees paid were far greater than originally thought – totalling more than $2 million since 2007.
On Remembrance Day 2016, ABC News (Australia) announced that the New South Wales Branch of the RSL was at risk of losing its charity status as a result of the payment scandal. That the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission had concerns that the RSL may have not been meeting its obligations as a charity and warned that the ACNC may use its powers to revoke its charity status if it finds evidence that the ACNC rules have been broken. “If we decide to take compliance action, which could potentially include revocation of charity status, we will publish this on the Charity Register and on our website,” said ACNC Assistant Commissioner David Locke.
On 25 November 2016, the RSL National Board was to brief the Government of New South Wales on the investigation into consultancy payments. The National Board was reported to be working with “regulatory bodies to deliver an appropriate corporate governance structure to ensure there is no maladministration in the NSW Branch. We are determined to expose any wrongdoing” said RSL acting national president Robert Dick.
On 9 March 2017, Rod White resigned as President of the RSL after being in the position for eight months.
The Returned and Services League of Australia (Queensland Branch) is a branch of the RSL in Queensland. RSL Queensland assists all current and former members of the ADF, veterans, and their dependents, and also established the Eternal Flame Foundation for financial relief and to provide care for ex-service men and women, and their dependents, in necessitous circumstances.
In 2016, a number of ex and current members of staff and volunteers publicly questioned the viability of the organisation with financial troubles and cultural problems.
Licensed clubs were formed as commercial activities to initially provide services by sub-branches to its members, including providing an environment for the protection and promotion of the ideals of the ANZAC spirit and heritage. The venues were established to provide hospitality for war veterans and a place for war veterans to build on their comradeship. The venues were often located on land granted by the State government. Over time these commercial entities, known generally as RSL Clubs (but also called Ex-Services, Memorial, Legion or other similar names) generated profits and also often made regular donations to local community services.
The membership base of the licensed clubs differs significantly from membership of the League. Membership of the League does not automatically confer rights of entry or membership to a licensed club. In recent years, in some jurisdictions, serving members of the ADF are granted honorary membership to a licensed RSL (or similar) club.
Licensed clubs operating under the RSL 'banner' usually have bar and dining facilities for their members and guests, and sometimes have extensive gambling areas. In licensed (RSL) clubs, each evening at 6 pm "The Ode" is read, followed by one minute's silence to honour those who died serving their country.
RSL Care is one of Australia's largest providers of retirement living and aged care services with more than 28 retirement communities throughout Queensland and New South Wales and several others in development. Its history originated from an aged care hostel provided to accommodate 64 ex-servicemen that opened in Taringa, Queensland in 1938. A second facility for 80 residents was opened in Caboolture in 1947, and two more facilities in 1968 and 1975, respectively, including a 30-bed nursing home. Over the subsequent 35 years, the number and type of facilities expanded, as well as their geographic spread, throughout Queensland and into the Lake Macquarie area of NSW.
Operating under a co-operative structure, in 1946 a group of returned servicemen established RSL Ex-Servicemen's Cabs & Co-Operative Members Limited providing taxi services to Sydney. By the 1950s, the co-operative had expanded to over 60 drivers, and now operates on a commercial basis, with drivers not required to be members of the League.
Commenced in Queensland in 1956, the RSL Art Union is a lottery that raises funds to provide welfare services to ex-service men and women, their dependents and to other members of the community. A major prize of a luxury waterfront home on Queensland's Gold Coast is usually offered, together with a range of bonus prizes. Since its inception, the RSL Art Union has given away A$80 million in prizes and has also raised over A$70 million for the development and maintenance of RSL nursing homes, hospitals and centres, as well as retirement complexes for elderly people.
Despite the Art Union winners being able to be from any state in Australia, only Queensland-based veterans and programs benefit from any funds raised.
The Australia Day Honours 2004 are appointments to various orders and honours to recognise and reward good works by Australian citizens. The list was announced on 26 January 2004 by the Governor General of Australia, Michael Jeffrey.The Australia Day Honours are the first of the two major annual honours lists, the first announced to coincide with Australia Day (26 January), with the other being the Queen's Birthday Honours, which are announced on the second Monday in June.2010 Australia Day Honours
The Australia Day Honours 2010 are appointments to various orders and honours to recognise and reward good works by Australian citizens. The list was announced on 26 January 2010 by the Governor General of Australia, Quentin Bryce.
The Australia Day Honours are the first of the two major annual honours lists, the first announced to coincide with Australia Day (26 January), with the other being the Queen's Birthday Honours, which are announced on the second Monday in June.† indicates an award given posthumously.Alf Garland
Brigadier Alfred Barrett Garland, AM (19 March 1932 – 9 March 2002) was an Australian Army officer, and National President of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) from 1988 to 1993. Garland had a distinguished military career, and attracted media attention by being outspoken on many controversial social issues, often antagonising the Keating government at the time.Childers RSL Club
Childers RSL Club is a heritage-listed former bank and now Returned and Services League of Australia club house at 55 Churchill Street, Childers, Bundaberg Region, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by James Percy Owen Cowlishaw and built from 1900 to c. 1909. It was formerly a branch of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney and is also known as the RSSAILA Club or the Isis RSL Club. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.Clarence Jeffries
Clarence Smith Jeffries, VC (26 October 1894 – 12 October 1917) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. He was posthumously decorated with the Victoria Cross following his actions in the First Battle of Passchendaele during the First World War, in which he led several parties of men in an attack that eventuated in the capture of six machine guns and sixty-five prisoners, before being killed himself by machine gun fire.
Born in a suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales, Jeffries was employed as a surveyor at a mining company where his father served as general manager following his completion of school. Joining a militia battalion in 1912, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon the outbreak of war and tasked with the instruction of volunteers for the newly raised Australian Imperial Force. Transferring into the Australian Imperial Force himself in 1916, Jeffries embarked with his battalion for service on the Western Front. Wounded at Messines, he was promoted to captain before being killed fourteen days short of his twenty-third birthday.Donald Dann
Donald "Doc" William Dann, OAM (12 February 1949 – 31 July 2005) was an Australian Paralympic athlete and table tennis player. He was born in the Tasmanian town of Wynyard. He lost a leg to a land mine in the Vietnam War, where he served in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment from 3 December 1968 to 2 June 1969. He competed in athletics and table tennis at the 1980 Arnhem Paralympics and won a silver medal in the Men's Javelin A4 event at the 1984 New York/Stoke Mandeville Paralympics.He founded the Tasmanian Amputee Sporting Association, was involved with several charity military and civilian organisations, and was involved with local football. He was awarded life membership of the Burnie sub-branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia(RSL) in 2002, due to his strong involvement in the organisation. In 2004, he received a Medal of the Order of Australia primarily for his service to the Burnie RSL. He died on 31 July 2005 in Burnie.Douglas Vincent (Australian Army officer)
Major General Douglas (Tim) Vincent, (10 March 1916 – 8 October 1995) was a senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing active service during the Second World War and the Vietnam War. Graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1938 into the Signals Corps, he volunteered for service in the Second Australian Imperial Force soon after the outbreak of the Second World War and served in Syria, Western Europe and Borneo. Later, he served as Commander Australian Force Vietnam (COMAFV) during the Vietnam War. After a number of senior staff positions he retired in 1973. He was actively involved in defence issues in his retirement and served as a chairperson of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) prior to his death.Ernest Toovey
Ernest Albert Toovey MBE, OAM (16 May 1922 – 18 July 2012) was an Australian cricketer and baseball player. In cricket, Toovey was a left-handed batsman who bowled slow left-arm orthodox. He was born at Warwick, Queensland.
Toovey served in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II, enlisting for service when he was seventeen. He served during the war aboard HMAS Perth, where he was present during the Battle of the Java Sea and was also aboard the ship during its sinking at the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942. Half of the ship's crew were lost, while the remainder who survived, including Ordinary seaman Toovey, were captured by the Japanese and spent the remainder of the war in Prisoner of War camps. While imprisoned, he reportedly resisted recommendations to have his leg amputated because of an ulcer, telling his captors "You can't take my leg off because I've got to play cricket for Queensland." His time as a prisoner saw Toovey put to work as part of the forced labour constructing the Thai-Burma Railway.Following the end of the war and his release from Japanese captivity, Toovey stuck by his wartime aim of playing cricket for Queensland by making his first-class debut for the state against South Australia in the 1949–50 Sheffield Shield. He made 36 further first-class appearances for Queensland, the last of which came against New South Wales in the 1955–56 Sheffield Shield. In his 37 first-class appearances for Queensland, he scored 1,346 runs at an average of 24.03, with a high score of 87. One of nine half centuries he made, this score came against Victoria in the 1950–51 Sheffield Shield. Following his playing career for Queensland, he served as a selector for the Queensland side, as well as serving on the Queensland panel as chairman for nearly 25 years, before retiring in 1989. He was also the President of Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club.
Outside of cricket, he played baseball for Queensland and Australia, having first played baseball as a prisoner of war in a match between Australia POWs and American POWs, which was organised by the Japanese commandant. He was also prominent in ex-services organisations, holding executive positions in Returned and Services League of Australia and Australian Prisoners of War Association, for which he received the MBE and OAM. He died at Mitchelton, Queensland, on 18 July 2012. His funeral was held at St Brigids Catholic Church, Red Hill, Queensland, on 24 July.Gilbert Dyett
Sir Gilbert Joseph Cullen Dyett (23 June 1891 – 19 December 1964) was an Australian soldier, veterans' rights activist and National President of the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens' Imperial League of Australia (1919–46), forerunner of the present Returned and Services League of Australia.A First World War veteran of the Gallipoli Campaign, Dyett also served as Dominion President of the British Empire Services League from 1921 to 1946, and was secretary of the Victorian Trotting and Racing Association for 30 years from 1919 to 1949.He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1927, and was made Knight Bachelor in 1934.Dyett died in 1964, aged 73, following a long illness.In 2003, a display on Dyett was created for the Eternity Hall at the National Museum of Australia. A collection of Dyett's memorabilia was unveiled in 2006 by Dyett's nephew at a dinner to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bendigo and District branch of the Returned Services League. The collection, normally housed in a vault, includes war medals and photographs, as well as Dyett's writings.He was succeeded as National President of the RSL by Eric Millhouse.Jeannie Gunn
Jeannie Gunn OBE (pen name, Mrs Aeneas Gunn) (5 June 1870 – 9 June 1961) was an Australian novelist, teacher and Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) volunteer.John Dawkins (South Australian politician)
John Samuel Letts Dawkins (born 3 July 1954) is a South Australian politician, and a Member of the South Australian Legislative Council, representing the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Dawkins is the Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention in the Marshall Government.
He was first elected to an eight-year term in the Legislative Council at the 1997 election. He was re-elected for a second eight-year term at the 2006 election, and a third eight-year term at the 2014 election.
Before his entry into SA politics, Dawkins was an Electorate Officer to former Senator and Howard Government Minister; the Hon. Nick Minchin, former Foreign Minister and Liberal Party Leader; the Hon. Alexander Downer AC and former Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives; the Hon. Neil Andrew AO. He has been a member and supporter of many and varied community clubs and organisations, including the Returned and Services League of Australia, and sporting and agricultural bodies.Ken Doolan
Rear Admiral Kenneth Allan Doolan, (born 15 January 1939) is an Australian naval officer, author, and is the former national president of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL). He is a retired rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, his most senior commands being Maritime Commander Australia and operational commander of all Australian combatant forces deployed to the Gulf War.Southport RSL
The Southport RSL is a sub-branch of Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) in Southport, Gold Coast in South East Queensland, Australia. Their building (known as the Southport RSL Memorial Club or more recently as RSL Club Southport branch) is at 36 Scarborough Street, Southport. The Southport RSL is a registered not-for-profit charity.Thomas Murphy (Australian politician)
Thomas Patrick Murphy (13 December 1906 – 11 September 1978) was an Australian politician and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly between 1953 and 1968. He was a member of the Labor Party (ALP) and held the minor government position of Assistant Minister in 1964-65.
Murphy was the son of a railway worker and was educated in Patrician Brothers schools in rural NSW. He worked as a clerk in the New South Wales Government Railways between 1923 and 1953. During World War Two he served in the Middle East with the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps of the Second Australian Imperial Force and reached the rank of sergeant. Following demobilization, Murphy settled in Concord in the western suburbs of Sydney and became involved in community organizations including the Returned and Services League of Australia and the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefits Society, a provider of health and other insurance.After an unsuccessful attempt to win the seat in 1950, Murphy was elected to parliament as the Labor member for Concord at the 1953 state election. He defeated the incumbent Liberal member John Adamson. The 1953 election saw Labor make significant gains in marginal seats, particularly in the western suburbs. The seat of Concord was highly marginal but Murphy was able to retain it for Labor at the next 4 elections, usually by less than 1000 votes and in 1956 and 1965 by less than 100 votes (approximately 0.2% of the total votes cast). Murphy was appointed to the minor government post of Assistant Minister between 30 April 1964 and 13 May 1965 but he held no other party, parliamentary or ministerial office. The seat of Concord was abolished at the 1968 election and Murphy unsuccessfully stood for the new seat of Yaralla. He retired from public life after his defeat but became a successful businessman with investments in motels and the wholesale shoe business.Vernon Wilcox
Vernon Francis Wilcox CBE QC (10 April 1919 – 13 March 2004) was an Australian politician. In a political career spanning twenty years, he represented the electorate of Camberwell in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and held many positions in the Victorian Cabinet. He is best known today as the initiator of the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop, but also delivered a memorable speech to parliament in 1971 in favour of building a railway line to complement the Eastern Freeway.Wilcox was born in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne. He was educated at Carey Baptist Grammar School, where he won the "Henry Meeks Medal for Leadership, Scholarship and Athletics" in 1932 and 1935 and acted as School Captain from 1935 to 1936. Wilcox maintained an interest in the school long after he graduated, and from 1963 to 1970 he served on the school's council. After High School, Wilcox went on to study law at the University of Melbourne. He matriculated shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and joined the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving as a Lieutenant from 1942 to 1945. During his time in the Navy, he worked as liaison officer to the United States of America's Seventh Fleet. After the war, Wilcox put his degree into practice, joining his father's firm, Hall and Wilcox, in 1946.
In the 1940s, Wilcox became active in the Liberal Party, and in 1952 he ran for Parliament unsuccessfully. He ran again in 1956, and was elected to the seat of Camberwell, now known as the Electoral district of Burwood. In 1964 he became a Cabinet Minister for the first time, becoming Assistant Chief Secretary, Assistant Attorney-General, and Minister for Immigration. In 1965 he remained Assistant Attorney-General, but replaced the other two portfolios with the rôle of Minister for Labour and Industry. In 1967, he was Minister for Transport, and in 1973 he became Attorney General. Wilcox retired from Parliament in 1976. Looking back over his career, he cited turning the first sod on the project to build the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop in June 1971 as his proudest memory. In 2001, Wilcox wrote Minister for the Crown, in which he reflected on his life in pre-war Melbourne, and his career in politics as a member of the Bolte and Hamer Ministries. The book's foreword was penned by Geoffrey Blainey.
In 1998, Wilcox was selected as a delegate to the fourth Constitutional Convention, running on a "Safeguard the People" ticket. His mission at the Convention was to ensure that any modifications made to the Australian Constitution towards a Republic maintained the present checks and balances against Centralism and the power of the Executive and the Judiciary. He argued, "We have had a Constitution, rightly or wrongly, that has been significantly destabilised, a generation of young people ... who believe we have a bad Constitution, paradoxically, when it is in fact the best in the world."Wilcox was a keen sportsman. He played cricket as a wicket-keeper at university and later for Richmond Cricket Club, and in later life would be a trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and maintained a long association with Camberwell Magpies Cricket Club. He was also involved for decades with the Returned and Services League of Australia and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1976. Wilcox married his wife Jean in 1942, and the couple had four children and thirteen grandchildren. He died in 2004, at the age of 84.Volunteer Defence Corps (Australia)
The Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) was an Australian part-time volunteer military force of World War II modelled on the British Home Guard. The VDC was established in July 1940 by the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) and was initially composed of ex-servicemen who had served in World War I. The government took over control of the VDC in May 1941, and gave the organisation the role of training for guerrilla warfare, collecting local intelligence and providing static defence of each unit's home area. General Harry Chauvel, who had retired in 1930, was recalled to duty in 1940 and appointed Inspector-General of the VDC. Chauvel held this position until his death in March 1945.Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Government expanded the VDC in February 1942. Membership was open to men aged between 18 and 60, including those working in reserved occupations. As a result, the VDC reached a peak strength of almost 100,000 in units across Australia.As the perceived threat to Australia declined the VDC's role changed from static defence to operating anti-aircraft artillery, coastal artillery and searchlights. Members of inland VDC units were freed from having to attend regular training in May 1944 and the VDC was officially disbanded on 24 August 1945.William Kinsey Bolton
Brigadier General William Kinsey Bolton (2 November 1861 – 8 September 1941) was an Australian soldier, politician and a founding member of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), forerunner of the present Returned and Services League of Australia. Bolton commanded the 8th Battalion early on in the First World War, including during the landing and initial battles of the Gallipoli Campaign. Bolton's Ridge on the right flank of Anzac Cove was named after him. He returned to Australia due to ill health in September 1915, was elected the inaugural National President of the RSSILA (1916–19), and served as a Nationalist Senator from Victoria from 1917 to 1923.Wilma Oram
Wilma Elizabeth Forster (nēe Oram) Young AM (17 August 1916 – 28 May 2001) was an Australian Army nurse during the Second World War. She was evacuated from Singapore in February 1942 and was aboard the Vyner Brooke when the ship was sunk in Bangka Strait by Japanese aircraft. After surviving in the water for many hours she came ashore at Bangka Island and became a prisoner of war (POW) until 1945. Vivian Bullwinkel and Betty Jeffrey were captives together with Oram.
Following the war she married Alan Livingstone Young, who had also been a prisoner of war. They settled on a dairy farm at Cardinia in Victoria and had 4 children. Aside from her work on the farm she was an active member of the Returned and Services League of Australia, serving as the treasurer and later president of its Pakenham branch. She worked for causes including greater recognition for Vietnam War veterans and to raise money for the Australian Service Nurses National Memorial, unveiled in Canberra on 2 October 1999.