Dunedin RSA Welfare Trust Annual Report and Accounts 2012 - 21st Mar 2013



The President, Executive and Members,
Dunedin Returned and Services Association.

Link for annual accounts   www.dn-rsa.org.nz/files/325/file/WT2012-pdf

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS FOR THE DUNEDIN RSA WELFARE TRUST
FOR THE PERIOD 1 APRIL 2012 – 31 MARCH 2013


Trustees:

Throughout the period of this report, the Trustees have been:

Margaret Eskrick (Chair)
Jenepher Glover (President, Dunedin RSA Assn.)
Lox Kellas
Andrew Rooney
Ross Owens (until 22 Nov 2012)
Lyal Cocks
John Broughton
Will Martin

Since stepping aside as Chair in 2011, Lox Kellas agreed to remain a Trustee until resolution of the Trust’s issues with the USCCT (in liquidation) and has now stepped down, leaving big boots to fill. His extensive expertise is not entirely lost given his continued connection with the RSA Executive and as “OIC” of ANZAC Day commemorations. He will be missed. Two new Trustees have come onboard in the last year, John Broughton and Will Martin. Both men have a previous Service background and bring valued new perspectives to the Trust. Ross Owens (Queenstown) resigned from the Trust on 22 November 2012.

All Trustees serve at the pleasure of the Executive Committee of the Founder of the Trust, the Dunedin RSA Association.

Sadly, three former Welfare Trustees, John Campbell, Ray McCormick (also a dedicated hospital visitor on behalf of the Trust) and Bill Hall died last year. All these men contributed significantly to the work of the Trust.

Trust Staff:

The Trust is very ably served by its two staff members, Mrs Marie Marshall and Mrs Sally Turner. Mrs Marshall commenced duties as the Welfare Officer in September last year after the job had been vacant for several weeks. Mrs Marshall works 30 hours per week for the Trust; Mon – Thu from 0800 – 1600. Mrs Turner is employed for 15 hours per week by the Trust and 15 hours per week by the RSA Executive and is also available Mon – Thu 0800 – 1600.

As a long serving staff member, Mrs Turner’s extensive corporate knowledge and prodigious memory has proved to be one of the Trust’s strongest assets.

The staff work very closely together and with volunteer Welfare Officers throughout the region and with support people at both District and Headquarters level. The Trust is especially indebted to Maureen McKay, from Mosgiel Memorial RSA, who is the recently appointed District Welfare Officer. Maureen contributed significantly to ensuring there was some coverage during the weeks the Trust’s Welfare position was vacant and in providing training and guidance to Mrs Marshall.

The Trust is also indebted to the dedicated volunteers who regularly visit former service personnel and their families in rest homes and hospitals. Sandy Trainor, from Mosgiel Memorial RSA has also helped our Trust with hospital and rest home visits.

The Trust continues to rely heavily on outside groups for support, especially around Poppy Day, most notably NZDF and NZCF personnel. The reduction in the numbers of uniformed personnel borne in Dunedin may impact on the Trust’s ability to organise Poppy Day collections on the same scale as previous years. However the Trust is grateful that TF personnel, most notably SSgt Cassidy and his team have indicated their preparedness to work with us again this year to deliver tables and poppies to the city sites in the early hours of Poppy Day.

The Trust is especially grateful to the assistance provided by Lieutenant Commander Ian Marshall and Mrs Amanda Buchanan of HMNZS TOROA is continuing to provide practical assistance to the Trust in hosting functions.

Trust Travel:

1. The Chair and Welfare Officer attended the National Conference in Wellington last November. The principal focus of the conference was centennial commemorative planning and there was very little on offer relating to welfare. Some faces had changed since the previous year and it was an invaluable opportunity for both the Chair and Welfare Officer to put faces to names and to chase up some outstanding matters with the headquarters staff. Frustratingly because of conflicting advice at District level, we have not been able to pursue the encouragement received in Wellington about seeking reimbursement of mileage costs for volunteers.
2. Mrs Marshall and Mrs Turner travelled throughout the District late last year and received a warm welcome wherever they went. These regular visits remain a priority for the Trust to ensure that all former service personnel and their families throughout our region have access to the same level of support as those in the metropolitan area. Both women were fortunate to attend the annual Bill King Award in Wanaka; the last recipient being Paul Tamati.





Trust Grants, Bequests, Donations, Awards and Scholarships:

The Trust continues to attract sizable grants and bequests, most notably in the form of Lotteries and COGS grants and an annual bequest from the JDS Roberts Estate. The Lotteries grant covers a substantial portion of the Welfare Officer’s salary, the COGs grant enables the Trust to fund morning teas for volunteers and supporters and the Roberts bequest (now much smaller than previous years due to lower interest rates) funds “comforts” for widows, hospital patients and rest-home residents. These grants are crucial to preserving the life of the Trust for as long as it is needed.

The Trust also continues to attract substantial Poppy Day revenue. Money collected throughout the region comes to the Trust and is disbursed both in accordance with RNZRSA guidelines, and in strict observance of the provisions of the Trust’s Deed. Poppy day money can now be applied to meet the needs of all ex-service personnel and their families, regardless of RSA membership. Previously, only Returned-service personnel and their families could benefit. Between the provisions of the RNZRSA guidelines and our own Trust Deed, there is in reality very little discretion available as to what grants may be paid for. The crucial deciding factor remains determination of “need” which is invariably involves assessment of such things as quality of life considerations, the preservation of dignity and independence and the financial circumstances of applicants. As ever, the challenge remains to identify and connect with those members of our community, especially people who have had no previous connection with the Trust, who would benefit from, or need, our assistance. The Trust is for the benefit of all former service personnel, men and women, young and old, and their families, and not just members of the RSA. Sadly, the perception remains that our organization is solely for the benefit of RSA members.

The Trust continues to provide non-monetary assistance to applicants in the form of advice and helping people to navigate the bureaucracy with WINZ, VANZ and other organisations and with staffing applications to overseas Trusts for assistance.

During the period, the Trust also selected two students who received Scholarships from the Trust as well as the second person to be granted the Bill King Award. Details of the recipients are on the website and were covered in the Welfare Trust newsletter for December 2012.

Trust Finances:

The full audited accounts for the Trust give a detailed picture of the Trust’s financial position. Income is down due to lower interest rates and loss of income from USCCT repayments. There have been increased legal fees. Off-setting this, to a minor degree, has been the Association’s repayments against its outstanding loan from the Trust, starting just over a year ago.

Most recently, effective from 15 February 2013, the Trust received settlement from its claims to the Liquidator tasked with settling the USCCTs debts. The Trust’s investments in the USCCT represented a huge financial risk to the Trust. The failure of the first sale offer on the building in February last year, then the extension of due diligence period by another prospective buyer (the current owner) made for a nerve-wracking year. Whilst the Trust was prepared to consider alternative ways to work with the investment loss that the USCCT debt potentially represented, ultimately the sale of the building at a price that satisfied all creditors was the optimal result. This is the best possible outcome for the Trust and marks the end of a disturbing period in the Trust’s history.




Trust Investments:

During the reporting period the Trust implemented an Investment Strategy based on the perceived future needs of the Trust and engaged a professional Investment Planner. The Strategy is monitored on an ongoing basis and provides for preservation of capital and a mix of capital growth and a revenue stream. All investment decisions are now made at “arms-length” to ensure they withstand scrutiny and are in the best interests of the Trust and its intended beneficiaries. Whilst the Trust receives considerable assistance from other organizations and trusts e.g. Lotteries Grants and the JDS Roberts Estate, these streams of funding are not automatic and have to be applied for. Nor can Poppy Day returns be accurately predicted. The Trustees have a moral and legal obligation to ensure the assets of the Trust are preserved for the benefit of future generations of former service personnel, men and women, young and old, and their families.

Trust Policies and Training:

During the reporting period, considerable effort has gone into the recruitment and training of hospital and rest-home visitors and writing a definitive policy governing their activities in consultation with the volunteers themselves. This is a work in progress but already volunteers are sporting proper identification and the process of resupplying one hospital visitor with sweets has been streamlined to save him the unnecessary time and cost to travel out to the office in South Dunedin.

Both the Welfare Officer and Administration Manager attended the training session hosted by Maureen MacKay at Mosgiel for all professional and lay welfare and support people from throughout the District. The training modules are not being rolled out as quickly as first intimated and there has been some resistance to undertaking the training. It is understood the next module relates exclusively to ex-Vietnam personnel.

General Administration Matters:

At the time of writing, the Trust and Association both have their figurative shoulders to the wheel in the lead-up to Poppy Day and ANZAC Day. The Trust is indebted to the NZDF and Cadet Force personnel and all the volunteers who assist.

This year Poppy Day will be Friday 19 April which is also the last day of the first school term. Cadet Forces and Scouting Groups are therefore unlikely to help this year on Poppy Day although the Cadets will collect as usual in supermarkets and at the Farmer’s Market.

General Welfare Matters:

The Welfare Officer’s catchment includes the Dunedin Metropolitan area, Peninsula, Port Chalmers, Palmerston, Maniototo, Omakau, Cromwell, Wanaka and Lawrence: Queenstown and Arrowtown ceased to be part of the Welfare Trust’s bailiwick during the reporting period. In addition, the Welfare Officer provides support on a request basis to people in Milton, Balclutha, Mosgiel, Alexandra, Oamaru and has been known to assist people in the North Island and Australia.

It continues to be the Trust’s immediate intention to pursue strategies to reach even greater numbers of people within our own catchment area, irrespective of RSA membership, who would benefit from assistance from the Trust.

Most people do not draw a distinction between the Association and the Welfare Trust. It is the personal view of the writer that the Association, as Founder of the Dunedin RSA Welfare Trust, can be justifiably proud of the foresight it had in creating a vehicle for the delivery of much needed support to ex-service personnel and their families in the community. Based on informal comments made directly to me, the Trust enjoys a very good reputation and is well-regarded both within the community and the greater RSA organization.

Conclusion:

The Trustees are committed to preserving the Trust for as long as there is a need to provide the level of support envisaged by the Trust Deed. Moreover the Trust remains faithful to the core values and ethos of the Founder and pledges its continued support to the incoming Executive.

This is my last report as Chair; Will Martin having graciously agreed to assume the role from 1 April 2013. I shall continue to serve as a Trustee for the foreseeable future for continuity purposes.





Margaret Eskrick
Commander RNZN (Rtd)
Trust Chair.

…. March 2013

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