Local RSL looks to inspire our kids

Renmark RSL social officer Ray Hartigan (second from right) launching the group’s Anzac Youth Leadership Award program, with St Joseph’s School Renmark year 6/7 teacher Steph Hocking (left), year 7 student Matthew, principal Don DePalma and year 7 student Amy. PHOTO: Deirdre Graham

A NEW award program being run by a Riverland RSL branch is aimed at inspiring “integrity, honesty and loyalty” among local youth.
The Renmark RSL sub-branch last month launched the Anzac Youth Leadership Award, allowing local schools and community groups to highlight young Riverlanders with leadership qualities.
Renmark RSL social officer Ray Hartigan said encouraging and rewarding young community leaders was a priority for the local sub-branch.
“The role of the RSL is changing,” Mr Hartigan said.
“It’s vital that commemoration is a major role, because our pledge is lest we forget, (but) the members of the RSL see the youth as our future.
“At the (Anzac Day) ceremony over the last few years, the guest speaker has not been an old soldier… it’s been a young person.
“The president and members of the RSL in Renmark are quite progressive in their ideals, because not only do they want commemoration to happen, they want education.”
St Joseph’s School Renmark year 6/7 classroom teacher Stephanie Hocking said the initiative would build connections between students and the RSL.
“St Joseph’s School and the year 6/7 students feel fortunate to be involved,” Ms Hocking said.
“These awards help the students to understand the importance of the characteristics that forged our national identity and gives them the opportunity to connect with Australia’s formative history.
“The invaluable leadership qualities the students are developing will enable them to become the future leaders of our community.”
Recipients of the awards will receive a certificate and monetary prize.
Mr Hartigan said young Riverlanders possessing leadership traits – including a sense of equality, a non-discriminatory attitude, a belief in fair play and a strong sense of mateship – should be nominated.
“The legend of the Anzac spirit is embodied by all those things,” he said.
“Instead of just words and a pat on the back, there is a meaningful amount of money that also goes with it.
“In the future, when the last returned serviceman who has seen combat is gone, we’re hoping one of these people will be running the dawn service, and the Remembrance Day service.
“That way we would not have forgotten.”

Hugh Schuitemaker

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Hugh Schuitemaker graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2014 and spent the last few years in soccer and music reporting before joining the Murray Pioneer at the end of 2018. Hugh grew up in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs and has a keen interest for football, cooking and exploring the Riverland region.

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