HISTORY OF THE BALLARAT RSL
In 1915 Returned Soldiers’ Associations sprung up in all States. They were generally based on the clubrooms provided by philanthropic organisations as meeting places for servicemen. The early returned men faced many problems such as inadequate pensions for the disabled and no medical treatment after discharge from the RAN or AIF – thus the need to address the more serious issues became a dominant part of discussions in the clubs.
A meeting of Ballarat citizens, convened by the Mayor of the City (Cr W D Hill), to consider the question of establishing a Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Institute was held on Wednesday, 13December, 1916 at the Ballarat City Hall. In attendance was Lieutenant Colonel W K Bolton, who urged the necessity of properly providing for the men when they returned home. All attending were in favour of the motion moved by Mr Francis Russell Coldham “that subscription lists be opened, for providing funds for establishing and furnishing a Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Institute, known as Lester’s Hotel
At a meeting on 23/3/1920 the site committee reported: “that it had received an offer of Dr. Donnelly’s property at 2 Lyons Street South and after inspecting same secured an option for one month for 3500 pounds and recommended the purchase of same. It was also stated that if we wanted terms the following were offered – 1900 pounds cash and the balance over a period of three years at 200 pound yearly
On Saturday, 22 May 1920, Lieut.-General Sir John Monash formally opened the newly acquired building for the headquarters of the R.S & S.I.L.A. Ballarat Branch, Lyons Street South, in the presence of a large and representative gathering of citizens.
In 1940, in order to include the Air Force, the league changed its name to the Returned Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia (RSS & AILA) . This was later shortened to the Returned Services League of Australia and then in 1990, it was once again changed to become the Returned & Services League of Australia.
In December 2011, the Ballarat RSL Sub Branch Inc. relocated to The George – Home of Ballarat RSL, 27 Lydiard Street North Ballarat, where it continued to offer welfare and pension services to serving and ex-serving members of the community, as well as providing assistance, support and education in the greater Ballarat area.
On June 30 2017 the Ballarat RSL will once again relocate to join with Midlands Golf Club incorporated, where we will continue our work of providing services to the Service and veteran community of the greater Ballarat area.
We are looking forward to being a part of Midlands and have been pleased by the warm welcome we have received from the Board and members of Midlands, we look forward to a long and beneficial partnership working together for the benefit of both our memberships.