Our history is one of service

Created to assist veterans and their families, the RSL boasts a long history of service to the nation.

From humble beginnings

In early 1916, a group of veterans convened and decided to form the 11th Battalion Association. Returning soldiers could now speak as one unit with one voice, after having received poor treatment upon their return to Australia.

Meanwhile, interstate organisations were being developed where they too were experiencing problems. As a result of these common interests, a meeting was held in Sydney with delegates from NSW, VIC, SA and QLD. On May 10th 1916, the ‘Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia’ was formed.

In Western Australia, the decision was made to widen the scope to include all members of the 3rd Infantry Brigade. On May 27th 1916, it was agreed that the name of the association should be altered to ‘Returned Soldiers’ Association’, covering personnel from all units.

The first President was elected in May 1916 and the Soldiers Welcome Institute was the first permanent home of the League in Western Australia.

A further meeting was held in Melbourne due to a number of locations missing the original national meeting and an Australia-wide Returned Soldiers Association was formed.

This meeting ran from June 6th until June 12th in 1916 and resulted in the national naming of ‘Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia’ (RSSILA).

Unfortunately, due to distance and difficulty in travelling, WA representatives were not in attendance. However, the WA Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia was officially charted on April 25th 1917.

Western Australia was first able to send a representative to the national RSSILA conference in August 1917.

The word ‘Airmen’s’ was added in November 1940 and the name became the ‘Returned Sailor’s, Soldier’s and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia’ (RSSAILA). The collective made the decision to shorten this name to the ‘Returned Services League of Australia’ in October 1965.

The name of the association was changed one last time in September 1990 in order to cater for current serving members. Thus, the ‘Returned & Services League of Australia’ was born.

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