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Staff sackings hit RSL but new gig for former CEO

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EXCLUSIVE | Administrators sorting through the books of the state’s crisis-hit Returned and Services League have sacked more than half the organisation’s remaining staff, in a new blow to the morale-sapped not-for-profit.

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InDaily has confirmed that seven staff were yesterday sacked on the spot as administrators Rodgers Reidy seek to rein in spending in the cash-strapped RSL.

Rodgers Reidy director Brent Morgan did not return calls today, but InDaily has been told as few as six staff remain on the books at the veterans organisation – down from as many as 22 in 2015.

It’s understood acting CEO Corey Starkey is one of those who remain, along with the office’s accounts officer and two other general staff, as well as two advocates.

Among the positions to go were two full-time staff employed to operate the RSL’s virtual war memorial, billed as “an outstanding commemorative collection, purpose built by RSL SA to honour the personal experiences of all those who have served the nation in times of conflict”.

Achilles Vafiadis, whose software company MindVision helped establish the memorial’s website, was among the creditors who were briefed at a meeting last week.

He said at the time creditors had not been given “the full information” but “we’re trying to achieve a solution and save the RSL”.

A statement posted on the RSL’s website says the state branch “has needed to be restructured”.

“As part of this ongoing process a number of positions have been identified as not being required in their current form,” it says.

“Affected staff were notified that their positions had been made redundant.

“The remaining staff who will manage the various functions required to support RSL members, the veteran community and our stakeholders have been briefed on their future. Please bear with us whilst adjustments are made to the business.”

One of the RSL’s main functions is to coordinate the Anzac Day commemorations, including last week’s Dawn Service. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

None of the board of directors – who are unpaid – is affected by the changes, with only four members still remaining.

Just two of those – state president Tim Hanna and his deputy Jill Hoare – were elected to their positions, and both are likely to face a spill motion at an extraordinary sub-branch conference next month.

The state RSL constitution holds that the board should consist of between seven and nine directors, six of whom should be elected.

Starkey was only elevated to acting CEO in recent weeks, after the resignation of former chief Julia Langrehr, as revealed by InDaily in March.

But key decisions that have been linked to the RSL’s financial woes – including a prolonged bailout of the struggling Alice Springs sub-branch – were taken under the tenure of Langrehr’s predecessor Sam Jackman, who was state CEO from 2009 until mid-2015, when she left to head up the RSL’s national office.

She quit that post suddenly late last year.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she has since returned to Adelaide, and is now working as Head of Strategic at local law firm Jones Harley Toole, “where I provide strategic analysis and corporate engagement”.

Jones Harley Toole partner Rick Harley – a strong supporter of Hanna – was a long-serving member of the RSL SA board until his resignation in late March. The firm has provided legal advice to the RSL on a number of matters and is represented on a creditors committee established last week.

It’s understood the committee is also comprised of a representative of accounting firm HLB Mann Judd, whose partner Corey McGowan also recently quit the RSL board, as well as Veterans SA director Rob Manton, RSL Care and the state branch’s Commemorations and Merchandise manager Keith Harrison, representing staff.

Jackman did not respond to inquiries from InDaily through Jones Harley Toole today.

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