Abstract: The veterans' and ex-service community in Australia (the Australian Defence Force Family) is represented by numerous organisations. These organisations, commonly referred to as ex-service organisations (ESOs), are generally issuesfocused, protective of their particular association and, until relatively recently, wary of cooperation with others. With few exceptions, they are experiencing a decline in membership. The Returned and Services League (RSL) was recognised as the premier, historically iconic representative of the 'returned men' for over sixty years. The growth in the number of ESOs occurred in the period after the end of the Vietnam War and particularly in the 1980s. The veterans of this war and subsequent conf licts in which Australia had committed troops have proven to be better educated, more demanding and unafraid of using the organisational and lobbying practices of the twenty-first century to achieve resolution of their legitimate concerns. This research sought to understand why alternative veterans' organisations formed, and whether this was a response to or a cause of the diminishing status of the traditional veterans' organisations. The research used a qualitative research approach, using interviews and focus groups with thirteen ESOs. It showed that the RSL, as the premier, historically iconic representative of the 'returned men', should bear much of the responsibility for this increase in the number of ESOs.
To cite this article: Ryan, Kel. The changing nature of Australian ex-service organisations [online]. Third Sector Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2013: 27-49.
[cited 25 Apr 17].