Cockburn RSL puts out plea for more younger members ahead of Anzac Day


Mat Jones, Digger Cleak, Kellie Jones and Paul Prickett Picture: Matt Jelonek
Mat Jones, Digger Cleak, Kellie Jones and Paul Prickett Picture: Matt Jelonek

THE Cockburn branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) is out to break the perception it is only inclusive of older veterans.

Kellie Jones and husband Mat are among the branch’s youngest members at 27 and 30-years-old respectively.

Sergeant Jones encouraged current members of Australian Defence Force to get onboard.

“Whenever I mention to people about joining the RSL the typical reply is that you don’t join until you’re out of the army or that it’s for older people,” she said.

“People definitely have the wrong outlook on what the RSL actually is.

“It is like a family; there’s a great group of people. There’s always going to be someone to help you out.”

The RSL was founded in 1916 to provide comradeship and support to veterans and their families.

Mr Jones, a former craftsman, said the RSL was a place for current and former servicemen and women to bond over stories.

“Everyone has the same experiences, it’s just they’ve served during a different war or a different time,” he said.

“We’ve all washed clothes in a bucket, we’ve all done something funny and all been treated for different injuries.”

Cockburn RSL president Digger Cleak said he understood people lived busy lives but added the younger generation had an important role to play in ensuring the sacrifices of Australians were never forgotten.

“We don’t necessarily want (younger members) to work or do things because we have a committee to handle that,” he said.

“But to have them at the services to show moral support is necessary and that’s what we’re driving for and we want to make sure that continues into the future.

“It’s not just a numbers game.

“We’re not in competition with any other sub-branch to see who can get the greatest number of veterans signed up. That’s not important.

“The important thing is to look after the veterans. That’s our responsibility.”

Paul Prickett spent 42 years in the army before retiring two years ago.

He said the RSL had been a big help in his transition to civilian life.

“It’s a place where we maintain traditions of what military service is all about,” he said.

“It means you don’t completely divorce yourself from something that was your whole life for a long period of time.

“It allows you to meet with a lot of like-minded people, particularly people who are paying respect to the traditions of the military.

“It doesn’t matter which part of the military you are from, you all have something in common: service to your country and the people are around you.”

For information, contact www.rslwa.org.au.

The Cockburn RSL’s Anzac services

Anzac Day Dawn Service, April 25: Begins 5.30am at the Memorial Hall on the Corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill.

Anzac Day Parade and Service, April 25: Will depart the Cockburn RSL for the Memorial Hall at 9.45am.

Anzac Youth Parade and Service, April 28: Students will be escorted from the City of Cockburn’s administration building in Spearwood to the RSL Memorial Park by the City’s Pipe Band, 10th Light Horse Re-enactment Group and the WA Police at 9.30am.