The future of the local Anzac Day dawn service is in doubt after Williamstown RSL club was put in to voluntary administration.
The club must secure insurance to hold the service but has its funds tied, with creditors owed about $1.4million.
Administrator Brent Morgan, of Rodgers Reidy, said “a primary concern is the safekeeping of the memorabilia and maintaining an RSL presence in Williamstown”.
Last month, Grocon withdrew a planning application lodged on behalf of RSL Victoria to replace the Williamstown RSL Club, at the corner of Ferguson Street and Melbourne Road, with a five-storey apartment block and cafe.
A community meeting, held at the club in December before it closed, heard that the site, its carpark and an adjacent house owned by the RSL, have been jointly valued at $4.5 million.
Williamstown RSL sub-branch president Rob Rowe told Star Weekly the land would now be sold by tender.
“It’ll be open to the market to try and get the best result we can,” he said. “We’re still hopeful that, at the end of that, there will be some funds available from the sale to come back to us, so we can establish a small RSL in some form.
“As a committee, we’re really still bonded by the ideal of making sure that Williamstown RSL has a presence some time in the future, and we’re really working hard, even though we officially are suspended as officers of the RSL.
“We’re really committed to making sure that we have our Anzac march and also our dawn service in our 100th year – we think that’s really incredibly important.”
Mr Rowe said Williamstown Bowls Club had allowed the RSL sub-branch to use its premises as a base for the march, which will be held the Sunday before Anzac Day.
The sub-branch is “still working on the dawn service,” he said.
Hobsons Bay councillor Peter Hemphill said it was concerning how things had unfolded.
“It’s … a bit sad the way this has all evolved, particularly for a club that’s 100 years old this year,” he said. “I just hope that the club can still function and that the sale proceeds will come back to Williamstown.
“That land was gifted to the Williamstown community, and it’s only appropriate that the proceeds of the sale go back [there].”
Williamstown MP Wade Noonan described the situation as “extremely troubling”, throwing the future of the RSL locally into doubt.
“Even the future of Anzac Day dawn service in Williamstown is now in doubt,” Mr Noonan said.
“This is likely to be a long and protracted process with little certainty.