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For other uses, see RSL (disambiguation).
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RSL National HQ, on Constitution Ave, Canberra, nearest the Australian Defence Force Russell Offices HQ

The Returned and Services League of Australia (often abbreviated to RSL) is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force.

It was formed as the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia in 1916, became the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens Imperial League of Australia in 1940, and became the Returned Services League of Australia in 1965. The change to its current name was made in 1990 to reflect the organisation's concern for current as well as former servicemen and servicewomen.



The RSL's mission statement 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 dependants; and promote Government and community awareness of the need for a secure, stable and progressive Australia.[]


In the past, the organisation was politically influential and at times highly controversial. As well as arguing for veterans' benefits, it entered other areas of political debate. It was politically conservative, Anglophilic, and monarchist - RSL halls are one of the few places in Australia where portraits of Queen Elizabeth II are still habitually hung, and in several widely publicised cases members expressing republican views were expelled. One of its more prominent leaders, Bruce Ruxton, was famously outspoken, criticising everything from the public acceptance of homosexuality, to Asian immigration to Australia. Many veterans from the Vietnam War found the RSL, dominated by the ranks of World War II veterans, an alien environment, and chose not to participate, but have over the past 20 years become activly involved.

Social aspects

RSL clubs across the country feature restaurants and bars for their members and guests, as well as extensive slot machine areas.


The National Executive consists of: National President; Deputy National President; state Presidents for New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia; and the National Secretary, Treasurer, and Solicitor. The National Secretary has functional control of the National Headquarters in Canberra.

Each state has a similar hierarchical structure that brings together the interests of the local RSL clubs. Each club has a local hierarchy of officials.

External link


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