RSA clubs need to 'reorient', make veterans the priority - chairperson

9:50 pm on 23 April 2024
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Photo: RNZ / Nathan McKinnon

Local Return Services Associations need to "reorient" themselves to be more focused on veterans, their chairperson says.

It comes as two dozen clubs in Auckland and around the country look to quit the national body.

The Napier branch has already voted to break ranks citing a year of disharmony.

RSA chairperson Martyn Dunne told Checkpoint there was some disharmony with Auckland clubs but no formal steps had been taken for the Napier RSA as of yet.

Dunne was "confident" the issues with the Auckland branches could be worked through - but admitted changes needed to be made to put veterans first.

The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association has about 250 volunteers who worked as district support managers - reaching out to veterans to support them.

But Dunne said he wanted to see clubs themselves reorientate their focus and make veterans the main priority.

"Many of them are very successful commercial enterprises and some of them actually have let looking after veterans become less important than we feel it should be," Dunne said.

"There are some highly successful ones, some great places where there is community involvement etcetera etcetera, we want them to actually refocus totally on the veterans."

Dunne was asked if the RSAs had just become pubs along the way.

"They're certainly commercial hospitality enterprises and I know what's going to happen on Thursday (Anzac Day) as my inbox last year was just inundated after a couple of articles by contemporary younger veterans, and not necessarily all younger veterans, who say 'I didn't feel welcome, I didn't really get what I wanted out of it'."

Dunne said it was time the RSA sat down and discussed what it wanted to look like.

This could include establishing veterans support centres, he said.

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