Orange RSL sub-branch to give away red poppies following a fundraising ban

Buying a red poppy for Remembrance Day is one of the most well-known fundraisers for Returned Services League (RSL) sub-branches except this year, they’ll be given away.

An inquiry into the financial management amid claims of corruption in the NSW RSL head office has lead to a ban on fundraising.

Orange RSL sub-branch senior vice president Chris Colvin said the ban also extended to people making donations.

Mr Colvin said the sub-branch had red poppies and would be giving them away on Saturday at the Cenotaph.

“We’re not allowed to sell anything because of the inquiry in Sydney,” Mr Colvin said.

“We have to wait until the inquiry is over.”

Mr Colvin said the inquiry over governance at the NSW RSL head office was long overdue, “you must cross t’s and dot i’s”.

Previous NSW RSL president Don Rowe admitted he had misused the charity’s money in evidence given to an inquiry overseen by former NSW Supreme Court justice Patricia Bergin in September.

Mr Colvin said sales of red poppies were essential to keeping the sub-branch operational.

“It makes it very hard for us and other small sub-branches,” Mr Colvin said.

“We can’t even accept donations, we have been told we can only accept grants from government or other organisations.”

The sub-branch receives a small grant from the Orange Ex-Services’ Club to cover operational costs like insurance but the club is a separate entity.

While the sub-branch is prevented from accepting donations or fundraising, Mr Colvin said people could become members.

“If the the RSL doesn’t do commemorative services, who’s going to do them?” Mr Colvin asked.

He was confident the sub-branches would survive despite the inquiry, but what form they will continue under would depend on what the inquiry found.

It’s expected the inquiry will conclude around the end of January next year.

The sub-branch’s Remembrance Day service starts at 10.45am in Robertson Park.