Members Statement: Keilor East RSL

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I rise to congratulate the Keilor East RSL sub‑branch on its 60th anniversary, which it celebrated earlier this month, and thank president William Laker, secretary Kevin Millman and their team of volunteers on a wonderful anniversary ball held on Saturday, 9 August. It was a pleasure to attend the 60th anniversary ball and to hear from Mr Laker about the origins of the sub‑branch. It had humble beginnings, with members first meeting at the home of Hank Hasselo in Keilor East, and then meeting at the Australian National Airways workshop, then located on the corner of Keilor and Hoffmans roads. Hank, together with Len Feain, David Purcell and other servicemen from the area laid the foundations for the sub‑branch’s next 60 years of success.

In August 1954 the Keilor East RSL sub‑branch was granted its official charter. Following its formation, the first official meeting was held at the Doutta Galla hall on Royal Avenue, Essendon North, followed by meetings at the Gum Nuts tearooms near Essendon Airport. In February 1957 a block of land was acquired on Matthews Avenue, but soon after plans for a new freeway forced the sub‑branch to move to a shop at 194 Keilor Road, where meetings were held for the next decade. In 1970 a site was bought from the Church of England, as well as five surrounding blocks and buildings, for £39 000. In contrast to what it is today, the RSL once included a church and Nissen hut. The building was officially opened on 28 June 1985 by the first member for Niddrie, Jack Simpson, and I am pleased, like Jack, to also be a member of the Keilor East RSL.

Finally I pay tribute to Anita Johnson, who received a special award for her tireless volunteer work at the Keilor East RSL. Anita has clocked up 16 years as the  sub‑branch’s social coordinator, and she has organised countless events like the anniversary ball, which I had the pleasure of attending. Well done to William Laker and all his team of volunteers. They have done a very good job.