The RSL was formed in June 1916 by troops returning from WWI with the purpose of preserving the spirit of mateship formed amidst the carnage and horror of battle, to honour the memory of the fallen and to help each other whenever required.
The underlying philosophy of the League is mateship and this is as true now as it was in 1916.
In 1916, there was no formal government welfare service for veterans and the RSL committed itself to provide for the sick, wounded and needy among those that had served including their dependants.
The RSL was instrumental in creating:
- A Commonwealth repatriation system
- Service, disability and war widows pensions
- Various employment and retraining programs (and for many years operated its own employment bureau)
- Child health programs
- Vocational guidance services
In effect, the RSL was the first national welfare agency in Australia and welfare remains our prime function today.