Annual Report

Members I present the Annual Report of the Victorian Branch of the Royal Over-Seas League
covering the activities for 2020. There were 25 new members during the year.
It has been an incredibly quiet year by comparison to all other years of the Victorian Branch thanks
to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had two Council meetings at the start of the year and then did not
meet again until September via Zoom therefore five meetings for the year.

The Treasurer fortunately was able to get financial assistance from the Federal Government by the Jobkeeper scheme and for loss of income by the League during this time. This has been beneficial to the Branch and ensured our financial situation has not deteriorated. We also received rent relief over many months.


Lord Luce retired in May 2020 as President of the ROSL after 18 Years and said “Our founder, Sir Evelyn Wrench, insisted that the heart of the League must be the commitment of the members. We still have to reach his ambition of a million members from the Commonwealth! It is our membership that has made the League as it is today. And I thank you all”. He was succeeded by Lord Geidt who has had a distinguished career in public service, latterly as The Queen’s Private Secretary (2007- 2017). Lord Geidt is a member of the House of Lords and Chairman of King's College London.

Dr. Diana Owens, Director-General from the end of 2017 relinquished the position in 2020 and was succeeded by Dr. Annette Prandzioch. Representatives of all Branches in Australia except for South Australia had a Zoom meeting with the Chairman Hon. Alexander Downer AC, the Director-General Annette Prandzioch, Head of
Membership Naomi Taylor and Head of Marketing Jon Kudlick on Friday 6 November. The meeting listened to a report from the Chairman about the situation at Overseas House and in fact that day London had gone back into lockdown and therefore there were no people at Headquarters. The situation is financially very strained and they are hoping for assistance from the UK Government and members when things open again.

The Australian Branches had already agreed to increase the capitation fee, which is the amount sent to Headquarters for each member in Australia.

Headquarters suggested that membership should be centralised with invoices being issued from London. There was a range of views on this matter and therefore not general agreement.


During the year, the following received Australian Honours:
Congratulations to Charles Curwen AO, CVO, OBE on becoming an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Crown as Official Secretary to successive Governors of Victoria and to public administration in Victoria, to medical research and to Australia-China business relations. Also, to Elisabeth Newman AM for significant service to women at the national and international level.

Letters of congratulations were sent to former Prime Minister The Hon. Tony Abbott AC, former Minister, The Hon. Philip Ruddock AO and former Speaker, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop AO on being recognised for their services in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.


The Council was delighted to appoint Keir Watt as Branch Secretary to succeed Ron Williamson, his first Council meeting was February 2020. Keir ensured that communication with members continued through the year especially by sending the News Bulletin by email which brought members up to date with the Leagues activities. There was no AGM last year, but the Annual Report and the Annual Financial Statement were circulated to members. The Council was pleased to welcome Ron Williamson back on to Council in September 2020.

We said goodbye by email to Chris Holtby the British Consul-General and his wife Polly halfway through the year and thanked them for their support and hospitality. The annual Christmas Reception at Chris and Polly’s beautiful residence in Melbourne was a “must attend” in members diaries each year.

The new Consul-General Steph Lysaght commenced in November 2020 and has been supportive already. We were able to conclude the year with a Christmas Luncheon for Council Members at the RACV Club in December.
A great friend of the League died at the end of last year Loris Callandar who was private secretary at Government House for close to fifty years, she was much admired.


The Australia Day Dinner was held at the Melbourne Club and guest of honour was Peta Credlin who gave a most informative address and was thoroughly entertaining as well as raising several important issues. 32 ROSL members and guests attended this evening.

This was followed on 2 February with a concert at the home of Di and Lino Bresciani with violinist Emily Sun performing with her partner Jonathon Radford both ROSL Gold Medal Winners and Commonwealth Musicians of the Year and they were accompanied by Laurence Matheson. This was followed by a performance of Crown Matrimonial by the Malvern Theatre at the end of February and a few members attended Chicago at the State Theatre.

After a long break Kenneth Park organised a webinar in December featuring Great Houses and Museums of London, which proved popular.

Council of British and Commonwealth Societies

The Council of British and Commonwealth Societies held the Annual Commonwealth Day Dinner at the Gables in East Malvern on 12 March and special guest was Ms. Catriona Boyd, recently appointed Deputy British Consul-General. Fifty-two people attended and I proposed the toast to the Commonwealth read the Affirmation and thanked the guest speaker for a wonderful address concentrating on Global Britain, future economic development and the Climate Conference in the UK at the end of the year also CHOGM was to be held in Rwanda last year.

I as President of the ROSL continued as Chairman of the CBCS due to Covid19 until September 2021. Julie Sattler OAM and Patricia McKendrick continue to serve as our delegates to the CBCS.

Club Liaison

The League sends Christmas Cards featuring Her Majesty The Queen to all levels of government and the community as well as other loyal societies and supporters. Our News Bulletin keeps members informed of events and matters of interest and our website provides further information on happenings and details of the League.


Thanks to our Honorary Auditor Mr Andrew Nielsen for his time and diligence in auditing our accounts.

My thanks to Deputy President Christine Chamberlain for her contribution to the League and to Vice- Presidents Jean Black, John Short and Jane Teasdale for all they do for the League.

Thank you to Jean for convening the Social Committee.

Thank you to John Short as our Honorary Treasurer for all the ways he found to ensure that the pandemic did not ruin our finances ably supported by Assistant Treasurer Julie Sattler OAM.

Thank you also to Members of Council for their support for furthering the aims of the League and for their assistance over the last twelve months. Also, thanks to those who assisted with various tasks in the office during the year.

This is the Annual Report of the Victorian Branch for 2020.