Grant funds space for veteran welfare

23 February 2024
  • Media release

An RSL Queensland grant transformed the Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch into a comfortable space for veterans.

A growing Sub Branch

Army veteran Bob Ikin has been a member of Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch for three years. 

“I joined the regular Army in 1964 and I served until 1984, with overseas postings to South Vietnam and Papua New Guinea,” Bob says.  

“I was discharged from the Army as a Warrant Officer, Class 1, and then commissioned as a Captain in the Army Reserve for a further five years.”  

Manly Lota RSL Sub Branch members in new office

Bob’s Sub Branch is located in the heritage-listed Manly-Lota Memorial Hall. Since being established in 1983, it has grown steadily to a vast community of 202 members and 77 volunteers. 

“We are members of the Manly Chamber of Commerce and we have very close relationships with local politicians, schools and community organisations,” Bob explains.  

Bob’s role in the Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch is twofold: he volunteers as a grants officer, while also sitting on the Sub Branch committee. 

“We meet regularly to discuss what we want to achieve and a lot of the time, this involves grant funding once we establish those priorities,” Bob explains. 

“I then set about looking for grant opportunities and I spend a fair bit of time preparing applications with research and narrative, so understanding our local community is very important.” 

Investing in advocacy 

Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch processes hundreds of veteran compensation claims and appeals every year. With such a high workload, the Sub Branch committee identified a need to provide an appropriate and comfortable space for advocacy purposes. 

“In 2021, our Sub Branch Compensation Advocate processed 171 claims and was spending an average of 14 hours per week on welfare work for other organisations like Legacy and War Widows,” Bob says. 

“His office was small, cramped, and a COVID health risk. We were also storing a lot of stuff in the room. It was just not workable.” 

Manly Lota RSL Sub Branch hall

An improvement was desperately needed, so Bob started applying for grants to enable renovations. He applied to the RSL Queensland Support Grants program, which gives Sub Branches the opportunity to access additional funds for building repair and renovation works, so they have appropriate facilities to welcome and support veterans and their families. 

Once approved, Manly-Lota received more than $28,000 to expand the Sub Branch’s advocacy office and build additional storage space in the hall. 

“The Sub Branch support grant allowed us to redevelop the Advocate’s office and move all items into secure storage facilities,” Bob says. 

“Construction took 13 weeks and was completed in early in 2023. We converted the office to a private meeting facility, which has a counselling area and advocate workspace.” 

A profound impact 

Commenting on the value the finished project has added to the Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch and its members, Bob shares some words from his colleague, volunteer Compensation Advocate Mark Gallagher. 

Before renovation, the advocacy office was small, claustrophobic, and entered via a storeroom, which was not conducive to putting veterans at ease. The new office is now the reverse: open, light-filled and airy, encouraging veterans to feel more relaxed. The layout suggests professionalism by our advocates.” 

Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch military memorabilia 

As the Sub Branch’s advocacy workload continues to increase, the completed works enabled by the support grant have made a significant difference. 

“The works have assisted the delivery of charitable services and enhanced our reputation. We are confident that we now have a space that meets our needs and are really looking forward to continuing our work supporting the veteran community,” Bob says. 

Looking at what’s on the cards this year and beyond, it’s clear there is more work to be done. 

“We would like to renovate the administration office, extend the concrete paths around the hall and become more energy efficient – just to mention a few projects,” Bob says. 

“Most of all, we want to continue reaching out to other ex-service organisations in our region because a really important priority of ours is to strengthen our advocacy and wellbeing services for veterans.”

For more information or to join Manly-Lota RSL Sub Branch, visit


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