The financial pressure on clubs continues as old business models don’t deliver to a changing market. 2014 saw a number of clubs throughout NSW close or forced to amalgamate to survive. This trend will continue until only those who strategically plan their business into the future will survive. One of the keys to success of course is having a forward thinking governance process with the right mix of people running the business. Effective action taken by your Board of Directors and Management just a few years ago has greatly improved our resilience to changing market conditions. Whilst we can always improve I believe we have over the last few years put together an experienced and efficient Board and Management structure.
Increased competition during the first half of 2014 affected our results. Some short term action to protect our market share saw operating costs increase beyond planned expenditure. The Board and Management recognising this adverse trend took corrective action and the second half came in much better and improved the overall year result. It is pleasing to note that the first quarter of 2015 is the best we have experienced for a number of years and we are already trending well above expectations. Overall the Club is in a sound financial position, which will give us the opportunity of further improving our offer to members.
As a proud RSL Club we are now moving through a number of years of commemoration which commenced in 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of the commencement of World War 1 (or the Great War as it was known then) until 11 November 2018, which marks 100 years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front.
This year 2015 also marks 95 Years in existence of what has become the City of Penrith sub Branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (NSW Branch) and the subsequent formation of Penrith RSL Club Ltd. Formed as the Soldiers Memorial Committee on 29th September 1919 and granted a Charter in 1920 as the Penrith sub Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia (New South Wales Branch) making it one of the oldest branches of the RSL anywhere in Australia.
As an RSL Club we promote all or any of the objects of the Returned and Services League of Australia. As a local club in Penrith we also promote and maintain a role within our local community. Elsewhere in this report you will see a statement on the financial and in-kind support that your club provides to many groups within our community. We in particular have a focus on youth and during the year we embarked on an ambitious program with Max Potential and I refer you to that particular program covered elsewhere in the Annual Report. In conjunction with the sub Branch we continue to sponsor the Kokoda Youth Leadership Program and this year we had 3 remarkable young people walk the Kokoda Track. We are also proud to finance the Focus on Youth program run through local High Schools by the Rotary Club of Nepean.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that at the RSL NSW State Congress being held in May this year that our recently retired director, Carol Prain will be presented the RSL Award of Merit, the highest award made by the League to a person who is not a service member. Carol has received this award in recognition of her 30 years of service as a member of RSL NSW Swimming Group, 11 years as President. Congratulations Carol from all at Penrith RSL and especially the members of Penrith RSL Swimming Club who you have looked after so well for many years and still doing so.
At the Annual General Meeting we will be requesting RSL Members to vote on 5 Special Resolutions to make changes to the Constitution of Penrith RSL Club Ltd. Please take the time to read the notes accompanying the resolutions which explains in more detail the reason/s behind the proposed changes. Changes to the Constitution can only be agreed to by 75% of RSL members attending the meeting. This rule in itself has been highlighted by the Regulator as being restrictive but at this stage the government has not seen fit to intervene, despite it being noted in the IPART Review of the Registered Clubs Industry in NSW – June 2008.
However, what is now coming under scrutiny is restrictions that only allow Clubs to elect directors from a narrow pool and possibly excluding people with appropriate skills. According to the Regulator if this is not addressed it can lead to a lack of member confidence. It may also lead to activation of Regulations prescribing which members can vote. We can preserve key Rules in the Constitution separately to Board and voting eligibility e.g. ‘RSL Objects’ to only be changed by special resolution of RSL members. Fortuitously, some years ago when the sub Branch sold the premises to the Club Ltd, they sought and obtained a Deed for the Provision of Accommodation Services and Recognising Existing Obligations. This “deed” maintains the RSL Objects at Penrith RSL Club in perpetuity. The deed gives full protection to the continued operation of our sub Branch. Being in perpetuity it cannot be altered and if it was decided to change it in any way it can only be at the request of the sub Branch. The Deed provides accommodation at no cost to the sub Branch and there is provision for clerical and other services provided by the Club Ltd also at no cost to the sub Branch. On top of that the cost of specific sub Branch functions in the Club are shared equally between the sub Branch and the Club. The Club also pays half the cost of hiring the buses to transport children to the Annual Schools ANZAC Service at the Paceway.
The Fourth Special Resolution proposes to amend the existing composition of the Board of Directors so that 3 positions on the board are initially reserved for RSL and RSL Life members, and that 3 positions on the Board are initially reserved for Associate and RSL Associate members. Legal advice provided to the Club is that this rule will meet the requirements of the IPART recommendation. RSL Clubs that have adopted a similar rule or removed all restrictions have not experienced any adverse effects to their RSL members.
The changes to the Constitution along with others we enacted some years ago in anticipation of the changes coming out of the IPART Review mean that we will be well ahead of some Regulator deadlines approaching in 2017. The proposed changes have been unanimously endorsed by the Board and we respectfully request support from our RSL members.
As an entertainment venue we ensure the safety and security of our members and guests. There will always be those who for whatever reason act in an anti-social manner but it will not be tolerated at our club. We have a robust discipline system which is enforced without fear or favour. It is pleasing to record that as a venue we had no reportable incidents for the whole of 2014.
As always the strength of our club is its people and I once again congratulate Neel Chand, his Executive Leadership Team, Managers and all the wonderful people who make Penrith RSL Club a safe and enjoyable place to relax with family and friends.
Neville K Barnier Dip FP, MAICD
President and Chair of the Board
Penrith RSL Club Ltd