NSW RSL Inquiry Prompts Calls for Sweeping Fundraising Reform

A high-level inquiry has called for sweeping reform of fundraising regulations to make charities more accountable for how they spend public donations, after it found “corruption and cronyism” had led the New South Wales RSL to the “brink of destruction”.

On Monday the NSW state government released the report of former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin following a year-long independent inquiry into the fundraising activities of RSL NSW, RSL Welfare and Benevolent Institution and RSL LifeCare.

Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said the 547-page report detailed “the shameful and disgraceful behaviour of former president Don Rowe and the culture which allowed him to get away with it”.

“It also highlights appalling business practices, shocking oversight and leadership which can only be described at best as being utterly inept,” Kean said.

Among the findings, the report found the former NSW RSL president Don Rowe spent $465,376 on his RSL credit card between 2009 and 2014, including $213,000 in cash withdrawals.

Rowe also allowed his son to stay, rent-free, in RSL-owned accommodation in the Sydney CBD for seven years.

In the report Bergin said the “old guard” of the organisation had engaged in a “cover up” of the real reasons for the departure of Rowe.

To view the full Pro Bono article, click here.

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