Visiting every RSL venue in Victoria sounds impossible, but that’s the challenge the Upwey Belgrave RSL has set for its members in 2024.
The club’s administration coordinator and volunteer Kylie Arndt told Club Management the 2024 RSL Trail is a fun and interactive way to engage its members and veterans after the club received feedback requesting more social outings and events.
“It’s a way to keep veterans who are housebound entertained and engaged and feeling part of our RSL family. The hope to spark joyful memories and thoughts of people they have known from these regions or places they have visited…it has become a real talking point for a large number of members and veterans,” she said.
Arndt added the trail has been designed to show support for other local RSL venues in the state, particularly smaller clubs.
“Many RSLs are volunteer-run, and face operational and financial hardship, so this was a great way to promote other RSLs along the way. A brotherhood so to speak,” she said.
The 2024 RSL Trail features a list of 261 Victorian sub-branches and 20 museums and other military places of interest that participants can visit around the state.
Every time a member visits a sub-branch or monument, they’re encouraged to share where they went, a photo of themselves at the venue and any comments about their visit. The experiences are then shared on the Upwey Belgrave RSL Facebook page and recorded on the RSL Trail list to indicate what other sub-branches still need to be ticked off the list.
Currently, there are 20 to 25 people actively participating. Arndt, however, is optimistic that when the club starts its monthly veteran road trips in February, the uptake will increase as will the support from veterans and other RSL venues.
“One veteran called me recently to thank me for this and veteran-focused work. He said he was housebound due to illness and loved seeing the posts about where people are getting out and about it,” Arndt said.
“That phone call is what this was all about – making a difference for those who made a difference for us.”