Goulburn Legacy could become part of a regional hub in future, given declining widow numbers and professionalisation of the wider organisation.
But the local club itself will continue to exist as long as there are war widows and veterans to look after, says president Mick Shea.
His comments followed an address by Legacy Australia southern zone director, Peter Kalkman at the local branch's dinner on Tuesday, April 13.
Mr Kalkman is gaining feedback from clubs ahead of October's national conference, which will discuss Legacy's future.
The Vietnam War Navy veteran and Legacy member of 30 years told members that the organisation was reviewing its future shape, given a declining number of beneficiaries. In 2019 there were 50,000 beneficiaries nationwide but this was expected to halve by 2050. In Goulburn, the club looks after 138 mostly World War two widows and their families but it's estimated this will fall to 62 by 2025.
"It requires the Legacy Federation to change the way we do business and it's one reason we need to look at our model...and how we deliver services in future," Mr Kalkman said.
This could mean more professional paid staff such on the ground who would compile pension applications, visit widows and do welfare work. It would not negate the need for volunteers.
But it was all dependent on individual clubs, which would need to assess their own viability to survive.
While some, like Goulburn were strong, others struggled to fill board numbers.
"There are 46 clubs now and there used to be fifty. Lots of them are merging to make sure they're viable in future," Mr Kalkman said.
Legacy Australia was proposing three strategies: for clubs to self assess and decide whether to merge or hand in their charter and disband in the next few years; to amalgamate with capital city clubs or regional hubs by 2026; or for Legacy Australia to become a federation hub with less than 20 clubs by 2030.
Mr Kalkman, who is president of Queanbeyan/Monaro Legacy, covering a broad area, says his club's amalgamation with Canberra Legacy in future may be an option. However finer details like representation would have to be worked out.
"In your case, you and the members need to make the decision," he said.
"Look at your viability and where you need to be in the next nine years and if you want to be a stand alone club then by all means go for that."
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The business model and the definition of a veteran will be discussed at the national conference in Sydney in October. Mr Shea will attend.
He told The Post he personally believed a hub model, whereby Goulburn shared resources like pensions officers with Queanbeyan/Monaro but stood alone as a club, was the way forward.
"Now and in the longer term, Legacy is not just about widows but anyone who has given their health in war service to the country," he said.
"Some clubs have come to terms with that better than others. Discharged trauma is something we need to deal with because if we can stop one family from falling apart, that's a good thing."
Mr Shea said Goulburn needed to reach out to the families of modern day veterans, of which there were many in the region.
He pointed out that all of the local club's assets were donated by the people of Goulburn and would have to remain here.
Meantime, Legacy Lodge in Lagoon Street, housing war widows and some family members, is full.
"Goulburn Legacy will be around for some time," Mr Shea said.
"...The numbers will fall but it is not about numbers. If there are only five legatees and five war widows, we will still do the job."
Legacy will celebrate it's national centenary in 2023 with a host of activities.
Meantime, Goulburn Legacy inducted two new Legatees on Tuesday.
Gunning man and army veteran Peter Robinson said he was inspired to join the organisation by member Dean Ferraris, who also hailed from the town.
Peter's father was an army veteran served in New Guinea and died of war-related injuries when his son was just eleven. Peter was a junior legatee in Sydney and recalled the organisation helping his family.
He moved to Gunning with his wife and family 35 years ago after 'discovering' it during a detachment to Canberra. Mr Robinson left the Army after 15 years in 1985/86 due to a back injury.
"Legacy has never been far from my mind. I've had mates who have died over the years," he said.
Mr Robinson said longtime legatee, World War Two veteran and Gunning man, Lance Cooke, had also inspired him.
David Webb was also inducted on Tuesday. He said president Mick Shea and legatee, Don Pennay convinced him to join.
Mr Webb spent a total 25 years in the Air Force, serving in Iraq, Malaysia, New Zealand and more. He was discharged in 2005 and joined the Reserve Force until 2014.
He and wife, Maria, moved to Goulburn from Canberra in 2019 for a change of pace.
"I like the fact that Legacy supports veterans' families," he said.
"It doesn't always happen and I'm looking forward to getting to know the system and providing that support. It will affect me at some point in my life."
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