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From the President

Tony Ferris 03 May 2019

Between the many events around ANZAC Day and preparations for this year’s State Congress, it has been an extremely busy time of the year.

As a result, it's been a long time between columns, which I would like to apologise for. 

ANZAC Day events

It is heartening to see the continuing dedication from people in every corner of this state to commemorating the service of our Defence personnel, both past and present, on ANZAC Day.

The Dawn Service at ANZAC Square in Brisbane was a very moving experience for me. It was incredible to see the amazing turnout for this commemoration, despite the early hour. Watching the ANZAC Parade later that morning brought back cherished memories of attending with my grandfather many years ago.

After the Parade, I was invited to read The Ode at Suncorp Stadium before the Brisbane Roar’s ANZAC Day clash against Adelaide United. 

The following Saturday afternoon I was again at Suncorp Stadium to read The Ode before the Broncos-Sharks game. 

ANZAC Appeal

I want to acknowledge the incredible dedication and effort of our volunteers in raising funds as part of the ANZAC Appeal. Each year, Sub Branch volunteers are highly visible in the lead-up to ANZAC Day, encouraging members of the public to contribute to helping our Defence family.

This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of getting out with our staff from ANZAC House for the annual ANZAC Appeal Ambush in the Brisbane CBD. More than 60 staff members – including yours truly – took to the streets to raise funds, which will be distributed to the Districts in due course to help our Sub Branches deliver much-needed veteran support services.

RSL Queensland President, staff volunteers and ADF member at ANZAC Appeal Ambush in Brisbane CBD

Sharing ideas with RSL NSW

On March 13, RSL Queensland had the pleasure of a visit from NSW RSL President and CEO James Brown, who visited ANZAC House to learn more about our operations and the scope of services we provide to our members and the broader Defence family in Queensland. The Executive and Senior Management team of RSL Queensland provided impressive and comprehensive presentations on every aspect of our operations.

A couple of weeks later, CEO Luke Traini, General Manager Lotteries Tracey Bishop and I travelled to Sydney to present to the RSL NSW State Council on the work that has been done on the new draft Constitution, the Art Union operations, and the great work being done in Queensland by all within RSL Queensland. 

Vietnam Mourning Day

On 30 April, I attended the commemoration of the Fall of Saigon with Vietnam veterans and members of Queensland’s Vietnamese community. A significant number of people attended, standing shoulder to shoulder to remember all those who fought and all those fell – Vietnamese and Australian alike.

RSL Queensland President Tony Ferris speaking at Vietnam Mourning Day ceremony

District and Sub Branch events

As always, I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel to our Districts and Sub Branches around the state and meet our members personally. 

Over the past couple of months, I have attended AGMs at the Brisbane North and Far Northern Districts. I had a great time as always, and it was my pleasure to speak with many of our members on a broad range of topics.

Some of our Sub Branches also invited me to attend significant events. In late March I travelled to Boyne-Tannum RSL Sub Branch for the dedication of additional placements within the Memorial. The Memorial is truly magnificent, and I encourage any members who are in the area to visit it.

Boyne Tannum memorial
I also attended the official opening of the memorial sundeck at the Glasshouse Country RSL Sub Branch’s new sundeck, which was dedicated to Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, who was killed while deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. Although a solemn event, it was also deeply moving.

I have also been honoured to make presentations to two World War II veterans. Together with Pioneer-Fitzroy-Highlands President Barry Vains, I made a presentation to one of our surviving Rats of Tobruk, Gordon Wallace in early April. 

And earlier this week, I was at Southport RSL Sub Branch for the presentation of the French Legion of Honour medal to Alexander Murdoch. This honour – along with six other UK medals – came about after Alex asked the Sub Branch for help in getting a veterans’ health card, and I commend Southport RSL warmly for their dedication to this matter.

Finally, the Board Executive and executive staff from RSL Queensland attended a meeting in Moreton District to discuss ways to move forward and address several issues within the District. The meeting was highly productive and, at times, passionate and emotional. But I believe strongly it was a worthwhile step in resolving any problems or misperceptions.

Connecting with Defence

In early April, I had the pleasure of attending the Captain’s Lunch on HMAS Brisbane following its arrival in its namesake city. After lunch, we were invited to tour the vessel and had the opportunity to see the bridge and new technology up close.

I was also honoured to farewell the troops deploying to Enoggera. I know you all join me in wishing them well on this deployment.

State Congress

Preparations are well underway for next month’s State Congress. As a result, I have spent significant time over the past months at meetings to finalise the financial statements, official documentation and other arrangements, including new technology to be used for voting at the AGM. 

Don’t forget to review the final draft Constitution here. There is also a useful FAQ document that answers any questions you may have.

I am looking forward to engaging with all the Sub Branch delegates at the Royal International Convention Centre at the Brisbane Showgrounds on June 21. 

Take care,
Tony

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