Two articles recently published in the Herald Sun regarding the site of the former North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch have told the public only a fraction of the story.
The following statement was provided to the Herald Sun on 24 May 2023.
In 2014 the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch committee voted unanimously to offer the City of Boroondara a long-term lease on the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch property. As a result, RSL Victoria, acting as the Trustee of the Sub-Branch, and the Boroondara City Council, entered into a lease agreement on 24 February 2015. As part of this lease agreement, consent was given for the land of the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch to be redeveloped into the Greythorn Community Hub with a commitment for the Sub-Branch to have rooms inside the community hub to continue the important work of supporting veterans.
In 2021 the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch wrote to RSL Victoria to advise of their intention to close the Sub-Branch. The decision was made after a prolonged period of lockdown in Victoria and a decline in its active membership. There were 10 members of the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch at the time of closure, and all 10 have since transferred to the Box Hill RSL Sub-Branch, where they have found a new home. Other options were explored with Sub-Branches in the Region as part of the closure process.
Under the lease agreement, in the event of the Sub-Branch closure, the Boroondara City Council would have the option to purchase the property. This comes with strict stipulations as the property is subject to a restrictive covenant that prevents the land from being used after the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch closes for any purpose other than a public memorial hall; or any public purpose that benefits the community, for example, a kindergarten.
The Sub-Branch property is also subject to section 35 of the Veterans Act 2005 and can only be sold with approval from Consumer Affairs Victoria. The property asset is why the Sub-Branch continues to be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission.
The RSL in Victoria, acting as the Trustee for the Sub-Branch property, is now in conversation with Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Boroondara City Council regarding the future of the property.
Regarding the current display of RSL memorabilia and honour boards in the Community Hub, the continued display of these items is done at the request of the former North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch. This request was made by the Sub-Branch committee to the Council in 2021 after the Sub-Branch’s decision to close. Although now closed, the North Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch played an important role within their community for decades, and it is important that this history is preserved and displayed. The memorabilia and honour boards have since been accessioned by the Council and will remain at the community hub in perpetuity.
RSL Victoria has had no further interaction with the Herald Sun after 24 May 2023. Articles on the subject of the North-Balwyn RSL Sub-Branch were published on 27 May 2023 and 3 June 2023.
RSL Victoria respects the Herald Sun’s right to publish stories of public interest. However, we would strongly advocate for unbiased reporting and the opportunity for a right of reply.