One of the greatest gifts bequeathed to Australians by those who have paid the supreme sacrifice is the freedom to express ourselves on the widest range of matters without fear of retribution. Most understand and respect this enormous privilege. They exercised tolerance for and acceptance of differing points of view, rejected the use of personal invective or abusive language and engaged in genuine robust debate after taking the time to ensure they have a thorough understanding of issues before advancing their opinion.
The good name of the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) and of the nation’s service and ex-service community is being put at risk by a few who abuse this cherished gift of free speech. These few are rude and intolerant when putting forward “demands” to the League’s paid and voluntary staff; they threaten and use foul language to those who administer or provide advice about compensation or veteran entitlements; and they leap to conclusions about complex issues without even trying first to inform themselves about the facts.
RSL reserves the right to put down the phone or stop other communications where staff are threatened or abused. Our social media policy is to block participants that use language or post content that is inappropriate on those sites. Users will also be blocked if they send private messages to the site administrator that are threatening or abusive. If the content of public posts and/or comments are offensive RSL will delete the relevant post and/or comments.
The RSL puts considerable effort into representing issues to Government on behalf of the service and ex-service community. Our advice is heeded and our point of view is respected because we advance considered, telling arguments to substantiate what we put forward. Our submissions to Government for each budget cycle are a consequence of our democratic processes at Sub-Branch, Branch and National levels. Our interaction with the Federal Parliament on prospective legislation or Parliamentary inquiries is always based on thoroughly researched papers backed up by appearances before Parliamentary Committees of well informed RSL witnesses who argue forcefully but politely for the RSL point of view. It is for these reasons that the League’s opinion continues to be sought and why we continue to be given a fair hearing by decision makers in our parliamentary democracy.
The RSL lines of communication will continue to remain open to all Australians and most particularly to those in the service and ex-service community on all subjects.
We will not shut out or turn away from any Australian who seeks our help, poses questions or debates with us about issues with which they disagree with the RSL.
In return we ask that all who contact the RSL by telephone, email, facsimile, post, social media, a website contact form or in face-to-face conversations use the norms of civilised behaviour and have consideration for others when exercising their right to speak freely.