How the League Evolved

How the League Evolved


The RSL evolved as a direct result of the camaraderie, concern and mateship shown by the "Diggers" for the welfare of their mates during and after the 1914 - 1918 War. That ethos of compassion and service remains today the motivating influence of the League.


Some key historical dates in the history of the League are:


June 1916

Conference of Returned Soldiers' Association recommended formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA)


September 1916

First RSSILA Congress (delegates from QLD, SA, TAS and VIC)


March 1917

NSW admitted to the League


March 1918

WA admitted to the League



Formation of the ACT Branch


November 1940

Name changed to the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA)


October 1965

Name changed to Returned Services League of Australia (RSL)


September 1983

Name changed to Returned Services League of Australia Limited (RSL)


September 1990

Name changed to Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL)


The ideals and objectives which had characterised the initiation of the first state associations in 1916 were correlated and finally adopted, in the following form, as the aims and objectives of the League:


·        To perpetuate the close ties of friendship created by mutual service in the Australian Defence Force or allied forces, to maintain a proper standard of dignity and honour among all past and present serving members of the Defence Force and to set an example of public spirit and noble hearted endeavour;


·        To preserve the memory and records of those who suffered and died for Australia;


·        To provide for the sick and wounded and needy among those who have served and their dependents including pensions, medical attention, homes and suitable employment;


·        To inculcate loyalty to the Nation, to guard the good name and preserve the interests and standing of members of the Defence Force; and


·        To promote our policy on national questions, particularly:


-       the unity of the Commonwealth of Nations,

-       the Defence of Australia

-       the maintenance of a sustainable and selective immigration policy

-       the development of a national Defence infrastructure and Defence industry, and

-       the promotion and proper employment of the nation's natural resources.


Further information on the history and development of the League is contained in:


·        The Voice of Stability

·        Mateship

·        Nationalism

·        ANZAC Day

·        The League and National Identity