History & Purpose


RSL Meeting June 1916

History & Purpose

Early in the 1914-1918 Great War, it was evident that those returning from Gallipoli and the Western Front would require support, along with the families of those who would never return. Organisations sprang up around the country to assist veterans and their families, with several uniting in 1916 to form the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA). This organisation is now known as the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL). Our purpose is to help veterans and their families by offering care, financial assistance and advocacy along with commemorative services that help all Australian’s to remember the fallen.

The RSL operates on the values of camaraderie, concern and mateship that was shown by the “Diggers” for the welfare of their mates during and after the 1914-1918 War. This ethos of compassion and service remains today as the motivating influence of the League. Some key historical dates in the history of the League are:

June 1916 – The Returned Soldiers’ League becomes the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA).

September 1916 – first congress of the RSSILA that was attended by representatives from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

March 1917 – News South Wales was admitted to the RSSILA.

March 1918 – Western Australia was admitted to the RSSILA.

November 1940 – RSSILA becomes Returned Sailors, Soldiers’ and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA).

October 1965 – RSSAILA becomes Returned and Services League (RSL).

September 1983 – RSL becomes Returned and Services League Limited (RSL Ltd).

September 1990– RSL Ltd becomes Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL).

June 2016 – RSL celebrates 100 years of service.