Following the aftermath of World War I, wounded soldiers began returning home to find there was limited government support available to them.
Diggers felt that a united voice was needed to bring about change for returned servicemen and women. The RSL was formed – an independent, apolitical organisation run by its members, for its members and the ex-service community. The RSL proceeded to represent the interests of returned servicemen and women, lobbying the Government and providing welfare services.
Originally known as the Returned Sailors & Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), the name was changed to the Returned Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA) in 1940. In 1965, the name was then changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA). Finally, in 1990, the name was changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL).
The RSL badge is a symbol representing readiness at all times to render service to Queen and country and to former comrades. It can’t be purchased and may only be worn by those who have served their country.
The shield design is symbolic of the protection provided to those who wear it. Within the badge, red represents the blood ties of war that exist between comrades; white stands for the purity of the motives in joining the league – to render service without personal gain or ambition; and blue indicates a willingness to serve a comrade anywhere under the blue sky.
The wattle draws symbolism from its Australia roots, with the leek, the rose and the shamrock standing for Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.
Within the centre circle – a sailor, soldier, airman and servicewoman marching together with their arms linked in comradery depict all of the services and ranks marching together in unity.