Phil Warren, a Vietnam conscript, stands with Stephen O’Neil and James Eusebio in one of the two rooms the RSL has been allocated at the Charlottes Vineyard Community Centre. Picture: Gera Kazakov

Veterans club without a home for 20 years

The Ellenbrook RSL has bounced between five community venues is yet to find a place to call their own.
August 31, 2023
Gera Kazakov

FOR more than 20 years now, members of the Ellenbrook RSL have not had a space they can truly call home.

Currently housed at Charlottes Vineyard Community Centre, they have two small rooms that they call their own, while the rest of the building can be hired out for $40 an hour according to the City of Swan website listing.

Ellenbrook RSL was established in 2001, and Ellenbrook RSL president Stephen O’Neil said since then they have been at five different premises.

“We originally started at the Woodlake community centre, we then moved from there to the bowling club, then to the hotel for a little while, then back to Woodlake, and then we got this place,” he said.   

Mr O’Neil served in the army reserves for 21 years, then did two years full-time service in the army, before taking a break and then becoming club president.

He said that by having their own clubhouse they would be able to create a welcoming space for veterans.

“If you provide them a place where you can talk about things, and people can pass ideas back and forwards, they can come to a better understanding and way to manage things,” he said.

Mr O’Neil said the Ellenbrook RSL has plans to build a new Anzac memorial for the community, and that having a club house close to that the RSL would also be able to create an environment that veterans could feel comfortable in.

Mr O’Neil believes that everyone who has served, either in defence or emergency services, needs a space in which they can get together and discuss issues affecting them, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s not an answer for everything, but it is a step in the right direction, to have a place where they can communicate with like-minded people,” he said.


Veteran and Professor of sociology (defence and veteran studies) at Flinders University Ben Wadham, who is also the director of Open Door: Understanding and Supporting Service Personnel and their Families said that RSLs are important spaces that help veterans transition back into the civilian world.

“If a veteran has identified a group of other veterans who they are comfortable with this can help their transition and resettlement back into civilian life,’’ he said.

“A veteran organisation, especially an RSL, must have a permanent premises that are relevant and comfortable for the veterans using that space.

“Not having a permanent space that is relevant and comfortable contributes to the upheaval that veterans can experience after service.

“It makes it difficult to reengage a new identity, purpose and belonging.’’

Ellenbrook RSL media officer James Eusebio, a Vietnam conscript who served from 1967 to 1969, said it was important to have a clubhouse as the area was going to grow.

“For us, we’re the keepers of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day,’’ he said.

“We’ve got all these people that we’ve got to cater for, so to build our own clubhouse, to build our own memorial, this is our legacy.’’

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