IT’S been 100 years since World War I ended — and Rochester RSL hosted the region’s annual general meeting.
And finally, a century on, it was our town’s turn once again.
Delegates attended from across the state, travelling from as far as Sunbury and Swan Hill.
State president Dr Rob Webster surprised the meeting with an unexpected visit, speaking to delegates about several issues that had concerned members across Victoria.
“[He] stressed that as communities changed it was important to appreciate veterans’ and dependents’ needs seldom changed,” Rochester RSL president John Glover said.
“Everyone was aware the Rochester community faces increasing challenges as the dairy industry seeks stability and farmers confront an uncertain future.
“But veterans still battle war-related illness, seek affordable housing and battle increasing age and infirmity with diminishing funds.
“Nothing has changed in 100 years yet everything seems to be changing.”
Dr Webster stressed the importance of good governance to ensure public trust – despite what he described as ‘some lapses’ interstate.
He also emphasised the Anzac Appeal, which still remains a vital fundraiser for veteran welfare, as well as that of widows and dependent children.
“The RSL was established in 1916 to care for veterans returning from World War I, but many more veterans from numerous conflicts have since required support and the need is not diminishing,” John said.
“Across Victoria there are six generations of veterans and dependents receiving support from the RSL including a significant number of World War I widows.”
John and Rochester vice president Tony McMahon were thrilled to see the regional meeting at Rochester.
“The regional network enables delegates to pool resources, share experiences and refine procedures so that veterans across Victoria may receive the best possible assistance with the issues that confront them, irrespective of their location across the state,” John said.
John attended the meeting as an observer and said how impressed he was at the enthusiasm, dedication and application of the delegates who were so committed to their tasks.
“These men and women work so hard locally for their veteran colleagues then devote more time to ensure veterans elsewhere in Victoria may gain from their experience and knowledge,” he said. “This is selfless community service at its best.”