At 49 years of age, Rob Nies is one of the youngest RSL presidents in South Australia, taking the Nuriootpa sub-branch into a new era.
The former American Air Force Staff Sergeant said his new role was “A bit overwhelming but worth it” as he follows on from the legacy of those before him, including former president, Mr Peter “Clarrie” Schultz who passed away last year.
“It’s a handing on of the baton and carrying on the legacy ” said Rob.
Rob admits there are challenges ahead as the different generations work together to ensure the RSL remains relevant whilst each sub-branch keeps its unique personality.
“The idea is to try and find a way to keep our RSLs current, find a way to let people know we are here for them if they need us through advocacy and wellbeing programmes, these are the things every sub branch want to grow on and build” said Rob.
“The veterans from WWI and WWII had a different type of kinship and attachment with the community. They always got together in these halls. A lot of the couples used to dance here in this very room! The Vietnam era brought about another change to that dynamic. Now because of the difference in the generations it is difficult to offer something similar in today’s day and age. We are finding it a challenge to get some of the younger people to come out and be part of this.”
Rob is eager to promote the RSL as an advocacy and support organisation, along with the region’s other sub branches, that support more social events between groups. More opportunities are already on the cards.
For Rob, serving as president is an extension of what he loves most about the country he now calls home.
“I love our Australian personalities, the larrikinism and camaraderie, all of that….Americans are very intense and passionate but they don’t have the same relaxed attitude as the Australians do – you know your mate’s always got your back.
“The whole ANZAC spirit is just something I really appreciate. The endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humor, larrikinism and mateship. Our military, and other emergency service personnel, provide a very valuable service to the country. They need a little bit of extra help sometimes so we want to make sure we keep that going and that’s what we want to do here with our RSLs.”
Read about Rob’s service and the American Airforce, including his three years at Woomera, in the April 17 printed edition of The Leader.