Royal United Services Institute of Australia

RUSI of New South Wales

From the President - November 2013

I am writing to you to share with you our plans, to inform you of some changes that are occurring and to allay fears that have arisen in some quarters concerning our finances.

Over the next two years, we intend to build expertise within the Institute in selected areas, particularly defence and security policy, grand and military strategy, military operations, military history, and defence industry policy. To this end, we are forming special interest groups on strategy, military history and defence industry, and each will be given one or more issues to research with a view to developing expertise in the area. If you would like to join one of these groups, please let me know [T: (02) 9484 8456; E:].

While the Institute will remain rigorously independent and apolitical, we will increasingly use the Institute’s own specialists to promote informed debate on, and improve public awareness and understanding of, defence and national security, rather than continue to always rely on external experts to do this for us. Indeed, to facilitate this, we will increase the number of half-day and one-day seminars that we conduct. They will draw on the Institute’s own specialists, supplemented where appropriate by external ones.

In the field of strategy, on 27 May 2014 we will hold a seminar to explain what contemporary amphibious operations entail and what realistically can be expected of Australia’s emergent amphibious capability. In early 2015, we will hold the third of our very popular International Defence and Security Dialogues, this one on Indonesia post the 2014 Indonesian presidential election, looking at where Indonesia is headed politically and what the changes augur for Indonesian-Australian relations and neighbourhood security.

In the field of military history, we will hold a seminar on 30 September 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. Then in September 2015 we are planning a one-day commission-of-inquiry into the failure of the 1915 August offensives on Gallipoli. We are also in discussion with a battlefield tour company which may be able to offer any of our members who so wish an opportunity to view the relevant battlefields before each of the seminars.

We have some excellent speakers lined up for our monthly lunchtime lectures in the first half of next year and an activities card which sets out the details is enclosed. Several changes have become necessary to the way we conduct lunchtime lectures and these are noted at the end of the card. Let me expand on them a little.

While lectures will remain open to any interested person, attendance will no longer be free and the venue will change from time to time. We will continue to use the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts (SMSA), 280 Pitt Street, whenever it is available; and when it is not, as in January and February next, we will hold the lectures at Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt Street. Both locations are very close to Defence Plaza and to Town Hall trains, buses and taxis. When events are at SMSA, we will normally be able to offer tea/coffee before the lecture and a sandwich lunch may be purchased for $8 if ordered in advance. We will not be able to offer this service when lectures are at the Wesley Centre, but there are several places nearby where lunch may be purchased, including the Castlereagh Lounge, Level 2, Castlereagh Boutique Hotel (Masonic Club) - only a five-minute walk to the Wesley Centre.

A consequence of being unable to use Defence Plaza for our lectures now is that we have to hire a lecture theatre. We are no longer able to absorb this cost. As a result, attendance at lectures in future will attract a fee of $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

In the recent past, many members have found the security at Defence Plaza a deterrent to their use of the Institute’s Ursula Davidson Library, a defence collection of national significance. To encourage its greater use, on the morning of each lunchtime-lecture from now on, the Library will be open from 10.30 am to 12 noon for browsing, borrowing and book return. Additional Institute escorts will be available to speed passage through Defence Plaza security.

With a change in office managers, there has been a need to change our office hours. The Institute’s office and library on Level 20, Defence Plaza, 270 Pitt Street, now are routinely open between 11 am and 3 pm each Monday to Thursday, except on public holidays or during lectures and seminars. By prior arrangement with the Office Manager/Librarian, Ms Theodora Fox, on (02) 9393 2325 or, books to be borrowed may be collected at lectures/seminars. Books may also be returned and other administrative matters dealt with at lectures/seminars. You may choose books to borrow by using the online catalogue at Please contact Theodora if you have any questions or suggestions for improving these services. She would be pleased to hear from you.

Defence security has also affected email access. Our former official email address,, and our former alternate address,, are no longer in use. We have established a new address: Please use this new address for all email correspondence with the Institute.

Finally, let me address the budgetary concerns. The Treasurer reported to the Annual General Meeting on 24 September 2013 that the Institute had incurred cash losses of $27,222 in 2011-12 and $13,906 in 2012-13 and that a similar loss was budgeted for 2013-14. To date, these losses have been covered by our cash reserves and the Council considered incurring them to be an essential investment especially in upgrading the library catalogue. The Institute is not facing insolvency as some assumed. As at 30 June 2013, we had cash at bank of $39,025 and investments valued at $145,460.

That said, we cannot continue to incur losses of this order. The Council has taken measures to increase revenue, such as introducing lecture attendance fees, which should reduce the budgeted deficit for this year to below $10,000. Development of the 2014-15 budget has commenced with a view to returning the budget to surplus as quickly as possible and building up our investments. You can assist in the latter by making a donation or remembering the Institute in your will. As our ageing membership falls away, we are becoming increasingly dependent on our investments to generate operational revenue. Any gifts, cash or in kind, that will assist us to strengthen our investment base will be an investment in the longevity of the Institute. Of course, we continue to encourage you to invite your friends to join us too.

We have an exciting two years ahead. Should you have concerns at any time about the direction that we are taking or have suggestions for improving our operations, I would be very pleased to receive them.

David Leece 
President Royal United Services Institute of New South Wales 
27 November 2013

Contact details:
Peter McDermott,             Company Secretary RUSIDSS-A.

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Mail address: 
CP3-1-155 PO Box 7912 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610. Telephone: 02 6266 3446.

Special Thanks: 
The RUSIDSS-A gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Defence for its continuing assistance.

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