Change to Anzac Day fundraising upsets South East veterans

Anzac Day fundraising remains a concern for RSL sub-branch members in South East NSW. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr.
Anzac Day fundraising remains a concern for RSL sub-branch members in South East NSW. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr.

RSL members in South East NSW say they are embarrassed by the scandal that has engulfed head office and are angry their local fundraising activities on Anzac Day have been impacted.

Moruya RSL Sub-branch Deputy President, Kevin Setter, says concern was first felt when RSL headquarters in Sydney prevented the sale of poppies on Remembrance Day last November.

Since then, all RSL sub-braches in New South Wales have been instructed to hand in their fundraising authorities by this Thursday.

“There will be no fundraising with Anzac Day this year unless proceeds go to the Invictus Games,” Mr Setter says.

In recent years, the Moruya RSL Sub-branch has raised about $6,000 from the sale of Anzac Day badges and about $5,000 from poppy sales. Half of those proceeds go to Sydney HQ and the other half stays with the local branch.

Merimbula RSL Sub-branch President, Allan Browning says his members feel tainted by the corruption uncovered at RSL NSW. He doesn’t believe members or local residents will be interested in supporting the Invictus Games.

Lest We Forget, some of the names that appear on the Bega War Memorial. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Lest We Forget, some of the names that appear on the Bega War Memorial. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“People want their money to stay local, this is going to create all sorts of problems for us,” Mr Browning says.

“We don’t have anything to do with Sydney, this has been very embarrassing.”

Snowy Mountains RSL Sub-branch covers Jindabyne, Berridale, Dalgety, and stops in between. Member Jimmy Crocker says he is hoping the issue might be resolved before April 25.

“We are a very small cog, but this money helps cover the cost of the various remembrance services we hold each year,” Mr Crocker says.

“We also give a lot of assistance to diggers in need, a lot of emotional support, whatever they need.”

NSW RSL says there will be fundraising merchandise for sale on Anzac Day and that communities across NSW will be invited to support the veterans community in a different way this year.

“Whilst we fix our fundraising systems, we are negotiating an interim arrangement for our 40,000 volunteer members this Anzac Day,” NSW RSL President, James Brown said in February.

“RSL NSW will fundraise for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

“This inspiring event, created by His Royal Highness Prince Harry, will bring wounded warriors from 18 nations to Sydney in October to compete against each other, and show to the world they remain unconquered by their war wounds,” Mr Brown said.

Robert Phillipe of France in action during the men’s 100m Ambulant IT2 at Day One of the Invictus Games at Lee Valley Athletics Stadium in London, England. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Invictus Games.
Robert Phillipe of France in action during the men’s 100m Ambulant IT2 at Day One of the Invictus Games at Lee Valley Athletics Stadium in London, England. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

The fundraising problems Mr Brown points to relate to the Bergin Inquiry instigated by the NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matthew Kean.

Patrica Bergin SC was asked to investigate concerns that NSW RSL and it’s governing body and officers had breached the Charitable Funds Act.

During the course of the inquiry, it was revealed that former RSL NSW President, Don Rowe spent $475,000 on his corporate credit card over a six-year period, including $213,000 in cash withdrawals.

The Berejiklian Government has referred the matter to the NSW Police.

As Mr Brown reported to RSL members, “[Ms Bergin] concluded that there had been “extensive non-compliance with the statutory regime for fundraising at the sub-Branch level” (p 139) as well as a failure by State HQ to comply with numerous parts of the Fundraising Act.”

“The Inquirer [Ms Bergin SC] was scathing in her assessment of certain former leaders of the league who she considered took the RSL “close to the brink of destruction”,” Mr Brown said.

She criticised State Councillors who served between 2014 and early 2017 for their ignorance of the fundraising law and their duties as directors and found that “each of them engaged in a cover-up”.”

With regard to current NSW RSL leadership, Ms Bergin SC concluded that Minister Kean, “would be satisfied that those persons are fit and proper persons.”

Only released in January, the Bergin Inquiry Report points to some serious work at NSW RSL – adding rigor, transparency, and accountability to its systems, work that won’t be ready for Anzac Day 2018.

The men and women of Bega answered the call to war: Some of the names that appear on the Bega War Memorial. Photo: Ian Campbell.
The men and women of Bega answered the call to war: Some of the names that appear on the Bega War Memorial. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Part of that work seems to involve a better business model for the state’s 353 sub-branches.

Mr Brown acknowledges that without fundraising, “nearly half our sub-branches will struggle to remain open.”

“Whilst we fix fundraising systems to be compliant with the law, we will need to change our league’s financial model to ensure that better-resourced sub-branches apply the surplus funds they hold to support smaller sub-branches.

“We will separately issue a State Council Directive outlining the new financial model for the league during 2018.

“We must make sure our smaller sub-branches, particularly those in the bush, can keep doing welfare and commemoration work in their local communities,” Mr Brown said.

RSL Sub-braches from across southern NSW will gather in Bega this weekend, and Merimbula’s Allan Browning says Anzac Day fundraising will be at the top of the agenda.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT.

Snowy Hydro signs off as rescue chopper sponsor after 15 years

Snowy Hydro no more on the SouthCare chopper. Original pic from ACT Health
Snowy Hydro no more on the SouthCare chopper. Original pic from ACT Health

Snowy Hydro will no longer be the naming rights sponsor on the region’s flying emergency room.

For the last 15 years, the blue and green of the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Helicopter has been a familiar sight in the skies of South East NSW.

That ends on March 31.

In a brief statement to About Regional, Snowy Hydro’s Corporate Affairs boss, Jane McMillan said that Snowy Hydro had been informed it was not possible to remain the naming rights sponsor of the ACT based chopper from 1 April 2017.

The news is part of a bigger change underway for aeromedical services across NSW.

The Toll Rescue Helicopter Service has forged a new 10-year partnership with NSW Ambulance to provide rescue, patient retrieval and treatment services across Southern NSW.

The deal is part of reforms first flagged in 2011 by NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner.

“When I became Minister for Health it was clear that we needed a long-term strategic direction for this vital service,” Ms Skinner said.

At the heart of the Government’s change is a desire to streamline aeromedical services, reducing the number of operators in NSW from five to two, covering the top and bottom halves of NSW.

The Minister’s pitch includes:

  • Faster care with reduced retrieval times
  • Bases that operate 24 hrs a day / 7 days a week
  • New and upgraded facilities
  • Single coordination phone line
  • Every chopper able to transfer sick babies

In Southern NSW the Toll Group replaces the Canadian Helicopter Company (CHC) who have been doing the job under the Snowy Hydro SouthCare banner since before 2005.

CHC Australia told Australian Aviation magazine it was disappointed not to have won the contract through the Government’s tender process.

Mission 1 – 11/10/17

See us take to the skies on our first mission, where we retrieved an injured bushwalker and provided medical care whilst transporting him safely to Liverpool Hospital.

Posted by Toll Air Ambulance on Thursday, 12 January 2017


The change over includes a new purpose-built Agusta Westland 139 helicopter, replacing the well-known Bell 412 which is notching up 35 years in the sky, 18 years of which as the Snowy Hydro SouthCare chopper.

The new Italian helicopter will have increased power, range and performance and will be fitted with the latest aviation, safety and medical technology. The flight team of doctors, paramedics and nurses will also have a larger work space in the rear of the aircraft.

Two helicopters will be maintained as back-up allowing for greater interchangeability amongst the Southern NSW fleet, which apart from the current base outside of Canberra will operate out of Bankstown, Wollongong and Orange.

“The new highly sophisticated fleet of Agusta Westland 139 helicopters will ensure we are even better equipped to care for communities, now and into the future,” Commissioner Dominic Morgan, Cheif Executive of NSW Ambulance said.

The deal with Toll to cover Southern NSW is part of the Government’s $151.2 million statewide package of reforms.

Sponsorship similar that provided by Snowy Hydro over the last 15 years is key to making the new Toll service financially viable, especially considering that each mission currently costs around $6000.

Speculation has suggested that Toll is looking to secure one naming rights sponsor across its fleet of eight helicopters, and while it seems Snowy Hydro were at the negotiating table, funding just one chopper wasn’t an option.

In her statement to About Regional, Snowy Hydro, Corporate Affairs Manager, Jane McMillan said the electricity generator had been a proud sponsor and during its time had contributed more than $7 million to the service.

“We are heartened that the service will continue with a new fleet of choppers and wish the service all the very best,” Ms McMillan said.

Community fundraising and donations have also helped keep the rotor turning.

A passionate and tireless charity effort from the regional communities that surround the ACT has been key – worth between $1 and 2 million each year.

The fundraising arm of the service is the SouthCare Helicopter Fund, which was established in 1998 to supplement sponsorship dollars and government funds.

A spokesperson for the Fund told About Regional that the financial support provided by sponsors and donors has and will continue to contribute to missions, as well as purchasing equipment and providing training for the aeromedical crews.

The new Agusta Westland 139. Pic from Toll Air Ambulance Facebook
No sponsor announced yet for the new Agusta Westland 139. Pic from Toll Air Ambulance Facebook

The spokesperson went on to acknowledge the backing of Snowy Hydro.

“It’s been invaluable in contributing to the life-saving legacy of the rescue helicopter service.

“We have been proud to partner with such an iconic local organisation and make a real and positive difference to the communities in which we both live and work,” the spokesperson for the SouthCare Helicopter Fund said.

So what will be the colours and name of the new service when it becomes operational in South East NSW on April 1?

A spokesperson for the Toll Rescue Helicopter Service said that an announcement on the naming rights sponsor would be made shortly.

‘Very soon I will crack and destroy everything’ – a 14 year old’s call for action

Tathra Surf Club pic from ABC
Tathra Surf Life Saving Club pic from ABC

It’s eleven years since Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) was first conceived.

On New Years Day 2006, orthopedic surgeon Dr Matthew Nott was on duty with Tathra Surf Life Saving Club, enduring the hottest day his town had ever experienced – 42 degrees.

There have been hotter days since, 44.6 degrees on January 18, 2013 is Tathra’s current record.

While keeping an eye on swimmers, Dr Nott was reading ‘The Weather Makers‘ by Tim Flannery, a look at the history and catastrophic future impacts of a warming planet.

And a warming planet we have.

The region’s run of beautiful beaches and cool mountain streams will offer blessed respite as South East NSW heads into a week of warm days, with forecast top temperatures above 30 degrees every day for most centres.

The sweaty weather is no surprise, it’s January, a month where records are set. But it coincides with news that 2016 was the world’s hottest year on record, due to the continuing influence of global warming according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Dr Nott says he remains committed to the cause of addressing global warming eleven years after that famous beach patrol but despairs that people and governments fail to respond to the mounting science.

“It’s really so terribly clear that we are hurtling towards an environmental disaster,” he says.

“That’s going to be something that has an enormous impact on my kids.”

Dr Nott is frustrated by but appreciates the fact that many people don’t understand or ignore the science.

“People think about climate change in the [same] way they think about death,” Dr Nott says.

“They think it’s a long way away and I am not going to think about it now.

“I find that really frustrating because that’s putting my kids future at risk,” he says.

There’s no hiding from the science for those who will inherit the future.

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) boast over 110,000 members.

Like CEFE, the AYCC recognises the opportunities climate change presents, while also warning of the total fossil fuels take on our future.

The impacts include rising sea levels and more extreme weather events and the myriad of human, environmental and security challenges that follow.

The opportunities include cleaner cheaper power production using renewable energy sources.

The understanding youth have for this issue was further highlighted to me in the run up to New Years Day 2017, when my eldest son produced a poem – at the pushing and pulling of his Bega based English tutor Elizabeth Blackmore.

Neptune Unleashed

by Jim Campbell, 14 years

I am the meanest thing on earth yet also the calmest

I have seen changes that no human could imagine

I was here at the beginning

And I will be here at the end

I am the most powerful on this earth

Nothing rivals me



Why do you kill me? Yet you wouldn’t be alive without me

I am getting bigger

With every factory you build

With every atom that you let go

Very soon I will crack and destroy everything

I will rule again just like I did

A few billion years ago

I am the sea

Tarraganda RFS shed near Bega with solar panels installed with the support of CEFE
Tarraganda RFS shed near Bega, the solar panels were installed with the support of CEFE

Jim was just three years old when CEFE went about installing solar panels on community buildings around South East NSW.

Every community building in Tathra now generates it’s own power and puts the excess back into the grid. Countless Rural Fire Service sheds, surf life-saving clubs, community halls, and schools in other towns now do the same, all with the backing of CEFE.

Eleven years on similar projects continue, building towards CEFE’s 2020 goal of reducing the Bega Valley’s power needs by 50% while at the same time generating 50% of the Shire’s energy needs from renewable sources – 50/50 by 2020.

If you are keen to add some science to the emotion and colour of Jim’s words, the BOM’s Annual Climate Statement is great reading (and viewing) for weather nerds and paints the full picture.

In short 2016 was:

*The world’s hottest year on record and the third year in a row where that record was broken.

*Australia’s fourth warmest year on record, with the annual national mean temp 0.87 degrees above average.

*Ocean temperatures were the warmest on record, with the annual mean sea surface temperature 0.73 degrees above average.

*A year of extreme weather events.

Larsen C Ice Shelf, pic from NASA
Larsen C Ice Shelf, pic from NASA

News too this week that the crack in the big Larsen C Ice Shelf has grown by a further 18km.

Only 20km of ice now connects this 5000sq km (twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory) ice sheet to the Antartic continent. The result’s come from the MIDAS Project, a collaboration of UK universities and academics monitoring the effects of global warming in West Antarctica.

As Matthew Nott suggests, the future is being shaped now.

The science gives the facts and figures of it, my 14-year-old son gives it a voice.

As adults imagine being one of the next generation/s knowing that this is part of your future.

*Poem reproduced with permission of the author, he even made me pay an artist fee!


About Regional – the podcast, episode five, December 14 2016

About Regional – the podcast, episode five, December 14 2016

Dr Matthew Nott, founder of Clean Energy for Eternity. By Bega District News
Dr Matthew Nott, founder of Clean Energy for Eternity. By Bega District News

About Regional – a new place for the people and stories of South East NSW.

The last program for 2016:

*The Funhouse crowdfunding campaign succeeds; Bega gets a youth and community centre in 2017! Read more HERE.

*Dr Matthew Nott, the founder of Clean Energy for Eternity says households in the region need to rethink the way they use their rooftop solar panels. Read more HERE.

*The Tour de France comes to the Snowy Mountains, some advice from a local personal trainer that will get you ready for round two of L’Etape Australia. Fresh from this year’s ride, Adrian Day from the School of Strength says it’s all about doing the k’s.

*We chat to a hairdresser whose career has taken her around the world, including on tour with The Village People. Jo Greenwood is now keen to give young people in the region the same opportunities.

Stonewave Taiko by Ben Marden
Stonewave Taiko by Ben Marden

*The Bega Valley’s Stonewave Taiko have been booked for their biggest gig yet.

Find your preferred listening option below to learn more.

Feedback, story ideas and advertising opportunities are always welcome, we can connect via

More via the About Regional Facebook page.

Have a great summer, thanks for tuning in.


Listening options:

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Coming soon to iTunes!

Money from the sun even after Solar Bonus Scheme ends

NYD 2007 CEFE use washing machines at Jellat Jallat to raise awarness of climate change
NYD 2007 CEFE use washing machines at Jellat Jellat to raise awareness of climate change

The days of money from the sun are coming to an end – at least in the way many of us have become accustomed to.

The NSW Government’s Solar Bonus Scheme ends on December 31.

As dogs go running for cover from New Years Eve fireworks, much of the money households with solar panels have received over the last seven years will go the way of 2016.

Around 7,700 homes in South East NSW have rooftop panels. Since 2010 most have received a payment of 60 cents or 20 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar power exported to the State’s electricity grid.

Those payments have been delivered as credits and deducted from the total price on electricity bills, offsetting the cost of installing a solar system.

Perhaps what many didn’t realise or had forgotten was that the scheme and those payments had an end date.

A letter in the post back in March from the NSW Department of Industry was the first call to action for Solar Bonus Scheme customers; the Deputy Secretary of Resources and Energy nudging people towards an electricity retailer to work out a new deal.

Letters warning the Solar Bonus Scheme is coming to an end
Letters warning the Solar Bonus Scheme is coming to an end

It seems the best you can expect from January 1, 2017, is around 6 cents/kWh.

Tathra based renewable energy champion, Dr Matthew Nott says it won’t be worth much for a household to export energy to the grid.

“The fact that the [premium] feed-in tariff is going means we have to start thinking a little differently about solar panels on the roof,” Dr Nott says.

The success of the scheme has prompted nips and tucks along the way by the Government.

In October 2010 under Premier Kristina Keneally, the tariff was cut by 40 cents/kWh for new subscribers as households rushed the generous 60 cents scheme.

At the time the Sydney Morning Herald reported that solar grid connections had jumped from 2900 in 2008 to 50,000 in 2010 when the scheme was launched.

The Labor Government at the time said it acted in order to stop costs blowing out by $2.5 billion.

The Government says 146,000 NSW homes have joined the scheme, around 20% of households.

Matthew Nott says it has been an enormous boom for renewable energy, and a positive step towards reducing the impacts of climate change.

The action group he founded in early 2006 – ‘Clean Energy for Eternity’ has used the generosity of the scheme to install solar panels on Rural Fire Service sheds, surf clubs, and other community buildings across the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, Monaro and Snowy Mountains.

The group’s aim is that by 2020, 50% of the Bega Valley’s energy needs will come from clean, green sources.

“The feed-in tariff was always going to expire by the end of 2016,” Dr Nott says.

“Although I think as that date gets closer and closer it’s taking a lot of people by surprise.”

With 86% of NSW households saying they installed panels to reduce the cost of electricity, that surprise is likely to turn into bill-shock as the first electricity bills of 2017 roll in.

But Dr Nott believes there are still ways to save money and that solar panels are still a good investment.

“What a household with solar now needs to think very carefully about, is using the electrons that are generating on their rooftop to power their house,” he says.

Tarraganda RFS shed near Bega with solar panels installed with the support of CEFE
Tarraganda RFS shed near Bega, the solar panels were installed with the support of CEFE

Rather than exporting that power to the grid Dr Nott says it makes more sense to keep as much of that energy as possible on site.

“Put timers on your appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers and dryers – those high energy appliances, so that they are being used during the day and powered by your solar panels,” he suggests.

“That stops you from having to purchase electricity from the energy retailers.

“We have got to get smarter and be using more electricity during the day,” the orthopedic surgeon says.

Night time should be the only time you need to purchase electricity from an external supplier according to Dr Nott – however, there is a ‘but’.

“There are some options on the horizon, in fact very close on the horizon,” he says.

“Look at investing in household battery storage, so that you can use the electrons generated during the day – at night.”

Dr Nott accepts that there is still a little way to go for those storage options to be affordable for the average family, but believes the winding back of the tariff will be a game changer.

“You’re looking at about $10,000 with a 15-year payback on your investment,” he says.

“But there’s a lot of companies in Australia making household batteries now.

“I think the cost is going to come down dramatically over the next couple of years and make it much more affordable, shorten the payback time and allow people to use less and less electricity from the grid,” Dr Nott says.

Dr Matthew Nott, founder of Clean Energy for Eternity. By Bega District News
Dr Matthew Nott, founder of Clean Energy for Eternity. By Bega District News

For those considering battery storage, Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) recommend that you at least have a 3kW rooftop system in place, but ideally a 5kW system.

“You want to have a system that is big enough to power the majority of your house,” Dr Nott says.

To help people start making the transition to battery storage, Dr Nott has flagged a new initiative from CEFE.

“We’re just starting to have discussions with some Australian companies about doing a bulk buy for the community,” he explains.

“If we can bring the cost down by doing that, it would be more affordable for people and reduce the payback time on their investment.

Clean Energy for Eternity want to do whatever we can to raise awareness about the value of household batteries in the same way as we have done with solar panels,” he says.

Money from the sun continues, but as always you need to have a few dollars first to make the most of it, but as Matthew Nott and Clean Energy for Eternity believe, the price for not investing is our children’s future.

For further info on the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme and what to do now, click HERE.

*Listen for more from Matthew Nott in episode five of the About Regional podcast out in the second week of December

About Regional podcast – episode 1, October 4 2016

Candelo by Google Maps
Candelo by Google Maps

Episode one was recorded on the banks of Candelo Creek, south-west of Bega but takes in the full geography of South East NSW.

First, the tragic story of 10-year-old Noa Jessop.

When Noa was hit by a car and died at the gate to his family’s farm, a heavy sadness fell across the Bega Valley community.

Tears have been a big part of the days that have followed, but so too has something powerful and remarkable.

Also, democracy is getting a shake up in the Eurobodalla Shire, with a jury of 28 everyday people formed to shape the work and spending of the new Council elected on September 10.

And you’ll hear of the hard work of the Perisher Ski Resort and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They are in the snow on the side of Australia’s highest peak to protect the only Australian animal to hibernate during winter.

South Coast Music Camp
South Coast Music Camp

Music to finish from the South Coast Music Camp which has just wrapped up in Bega.

Around 200 people take part every year – including tutors from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian National Academy of Music.

Your feedback and contributions are welcome, via or Facebook.

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