Our History and Mission
Caulfield RSL Vision Statement:
To be the Club of choice, while honouring the spirit of ANZAC and the ethos of the RSL, for our local community.
The Caulfield Returned & Services League (RSL) (Sub-Branch Incorporated), 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick, is the home of the Caulfield and New Zealand Sub-Branches of the Returned Soldiers & Sailors Imperial League of Australia.
The Caulfield RSL is housed in a building that was originally the Elsternwick Club constructed in 1896. The property was later purchased by the RSL in 1920. It was extensively re-modelled, extended and reopened by former World War I Prime Minister William (Billy) Hughes in 1938. The current facade and most of the interior is still the 1938 original decor.
The original members of our Club were mainly made up of men who had been wounded or became ill and were repatriated from the landing and campaign at Gallipoli. Many were patients at the Caulfield Military Hospital on Kooyong Road. They gathered together originally to provide comfort and support for what they saw as unfair conditions handed out to returning soldiers and the treatment by the government of the dependents of men that had been killed or seriously injured. Over its lifetime the hospital treated more than 20,000 men from all over Australia and New Zealand and for this reason Caulfield RSL had a very diverse membership. The Club continues its ongoing commitment to supporting former service members, men and women alike, and their families and descendants.
Our ongoing mission is to provide support to former Service members of the Australian Defence forces their families and descendants.
The membership of the Club has always included our friends and allies the former members of the New Zealand Defence forces including men who originally were patients at the Caulfield Military Hospital whom went on to settle locally. Many chose as home Melbourne after the War and became members of our Club.
In more recent years the New Zealand Sub-Branch of the RSL has made Caulfield RSL its home. We are one of the few RSLs in Australia that can boast of such a fact. Their members are spread around the whole State and because the NZ government has slightly different rules in the treatment of their ex-service personnel there is a need for NZ sub-branch to act to support them and their Whanau (families).
While the primary role of the RSL is to provide welfare to its members, we have all also become a valuable community asset providing a place and venue for members of the local community to relax and enjoy our entertainment and meet friends. Many local community groups also use the Club’s facilities for regular meetings and seminars. The Club also actively supports local groups of scouts, air cadets, football clubs and kindred community organisations.
Each year the club commemorates Anzac Day and Remembrance Day with ceremonies fitting for each occasion. Often these services are joint services with Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated (VAJEX). This means that our services include not only prayers in English but also Maori and Hebrew, reflecting the cultural diversity of our immediate and broader community.
Since its establishment the Club has had over 12,000 members through its ranks, including many prominent and high profile individuals who have played a major part in Australia’s history. We have also had lots of ordinary Australians, New Zealanders and men and women of the Allied forces who did their part as members of Commonwealth Defence forces and the modern-day Australian Defence Force (ADF).