November 17 - 23, 2013: Issue 137

 Commodore Graham Sloper AM RAN (Rtd.) Awarded Life Membership of the Returned Services League

Cr. Jacqui Townsend, Mayor Of Pittwater, presents Commodore Graham Sloper AM RAN (Rtd.) with Life Membership RSL of Australia.

Commodore Graham Sloper AM RAN (Rtd.) Awarded Life Membership of the Returned Services League

COMMODORE G.V. SLOPER AM RAN (Rtd.) likes ‘ducking’ acknowledgments – he prefers talking about the work to be done and being done instead of himself. The work he has done and keeps doing for veterans, not only in his own sub-Branch of Avalon Beach RSL, but as part of the team who have established the Veterans’ Centre – Northern Beaches - a model now being used to set up similar facilities elsewhere, as well as initiating and furthering the only annual Military Tattoo in NSW, the Avalon Tattoo, held mid June each year, among a thousand other tasks attended to in service and personal attendance to a range of committees, schools and organisations; from visits to those in hospital, to keeping up to date with modifications and changes in entitlements, have this week seen him unable to duck being presented with a Lifetime Membership Award from those he has served past retiring from the Navy.

This provided the ideal opportunity to get an update from Mr Sloper (Graham as he prefers to be called when ‘RHIP’ – Rank has its Privileges) and publish an accurate record of what has happened to lead to this and what is coming up.

How does it feel to be awarded Life Membership?

When we moved here I’d come from a whole series of fairly heavy and demanding jobs which were probably 16 to 18 hours a day six or seven days a week. Those old jobs also had a lot of social aspects to them; for example, at HMAS ALBATROSS the Naval Air Station, I had over 2,000 people working for me and was on 15 committees in the community and Patron for 12 organisations. You’d go to meeting after meeting, there’d be drink and food and some fairly intense discussions as the Adf was by far the largest employer in the region – the next having approximately 100 employees. When we got up here and I went to Reserves, fitting in as they needed me, I was basically bored stupid.

Dannie said, why don’t you go down to the RSL and get yourself occupied and do something. So I started there with no intention of getting this occupied but within about a year they’d asked me to become President and from there everything snowballed. Going on from the two Trusts (ANZAC House and Australian Forces Overseas Fund) in town to President of the Northern Beaches RSL District Council, Deputy Chairman and Head of the Ceremonial sub-Committee for the Warringah and Mackellar Federal Electorates ANZAC Centenary Commemoration and the interaction with the community, particularly Cadets, schools and Community Service Organisations. – so I accept it is recognition for a hell of a lot of work (but that’s all) for which I wasn’t seeking recognition. I enjoyed doing the job, I got satisfaction out of improving the club, establishing the Avalon Tattoo, setting up our Welfare and Pensions Veterans’ Centre, looking after the widows, all those ancillary things. As of yesterday (11.11.2013), for ten years I was in the (sub-Branch) office in a voluntary capacity for five sometimes six days a week.

When you started down at the RSL the membership was not what it was today though?

We had just over 100 members.

How many are there now?

257.

Why are there so many members now?

Initially because we set up the Social Program -  there’s no doubt about it that that worked. We’ve emphasised our Commemorative Services as well – the Remembrance Day, VP Day and ANZAC Day services. These have moved from being relatively small to very major events.  Our ANZAC Day Commemorative Service is now recognised as the largest ANZAC Day service outside the CBD.  
I also think it’s word of mouth. Getting involved with the schools, with the cadets, with the community – everyone has come on board there.

So it’s having an inclusive and open door policy?

Definitely. It’s also that we’ve marketed our existence. There were a lot of people out there that did not realise that they were eligible to join the RSL – you see the RSL used to mean ‘Returned from Active Service’ – you had to have been on active service to be in the RSL, then in the 1970’s they changed that to ‘Returned AND Services League’; so anyone who had done Service could be in it. That has now been extended to Affiliate members where the relatives of those who served may join.

A lot of people still didn’t realise that out there – a lot of National Service people who never saw active service didn’t believe they could be members of the RSL. So I did a big mail out campaign through Australia Post with a brochure which was aimed at National Servicemen – the Nashos - which pretty much said ‘you are entitled to be a member of the RSL and you can have these medals’ (The National Service and Australian Defence Force medals) which they didn’t know about, and that brought us in an extra 50-60 members.

This demonstrates you have also kept yourself up to date in entitlements for ex-Service personnel – that has been part of your work?

Yes.

That’s a fair amount of work in itself. Some of the NASHO’s we’ve met at different Commemorative Services expressed feeling offside or ignored – particularly those that attended or didn’t attend Vietnam Veteran Services.

Very much so – and I don’t blame them. After Vietnam and I went to Vietnam, I remember we used to sneak out of Australia and sneak back in because it became such an unpopular war, especially with conscription as part of it.  The power of the press was really typified then and also through the academic institutions – the universities were violently opposed to Vietnam. It was the first war to see images broadcast, without censorship, direct to homes.

We weren’t made welcome when we got back. Unforgivably the RSL took the stance that it wasn’t a real war and they turned a lot of Vietnam Veterans off in doing so (refusing them membership). They have since apologised and rectified this but there are still Vietnam Veterans who will not have anything to do with the RSL as a result.

We have done our utmost to reach those who were affected by this stance. Within the charter of the RSL one of the major things is you ‘must provide for the welfare and respite of Veterans and their dependants; of current and ex-servicemen and women and their dependents’.

Another big part of this charter is ‘to promote the RSL and the Australian Defence Force in the community’.

We are not here (strictly) as a Social Club to provide social activities for sub-branch members. Our priorities in this regard mean we should be talking to schools, we should be running the Tattoo better every year, we need to get involved with the Cadets, we should be looking after the War Widows and their children where applicable to the best of our capacities – all these have to take a higher priority then us getting together and having a cabaret night.

We still have these functions – an example would be the Movie lunch where members see a movie and then have lunch and two hours drinking back at the club for $15.00 per person for the member and a guest.

That’s great – it’s hard to get a movie ticket at that price nowadays…

Yes – but the focus of the Social Group is to engage with the community, to create events such as the Tattoo to showcase the Services, our youth and Community Services (NSW Police, NSW Fire and Rescue, Rural Fire Service, Marine Rescue, State Emergency Services, NSW Ambulance, St Johns Ambulance etc) and look after the Legacy widows and others similar activities as outlined in the charter.

As you have mentioned the Avalon Tattoo, the only annual Military Tattoo in N.S.W. with its emphasis on showcasing the great work done in Cadet Units, whether Navy, Army or Air Force – it’s a focus on Army in 2014?

Yes it is.

How did the Avalon Tattoo begin and what is planned for 2014 at this stage?

The Tattoo began back in 2006. I was a guest speaker at a luncheon at Penshurst in 2006. I was sitting at a table with the Director of Music for the Navy and he said if you ever need any help out there to promote the Navy let us know and we’ll bring the band out.
I said, ok, we’ll do it this year – we’ll have a Ceremonial Sunset – so in 2006 we had what we called a Reserves and Cadets Expo to showcase what Reserves and Cadets do in the community.

We ran this on Remembrance Day, which is November and included an ancient tradition of Ceremonial Sunset. Unfortunately, because of daylight saving, sunset wasn’t until 8.30 at night. This was too long a day for the cadets. Having learnt from that, we altered it for the next year, moved it to June and expanded it to be a Tattoo in 2007, modelled on the Edinburgh Tattoo.

In 2010 Pittwater Council granted the Freedom of Entry to Pittwater for the three local Cadet Units – Army, Air Force and Navy, which was a great honour as it is not often done. Each year we now exercise the Right of Entry to one of the cadet units and the Service of that unit becomes the military focus for that year. In 2014 it will be Army.

We (the sub-Branch) now have a commitment to fund the Tattoo for the next five years, on a rolling program – but to be reviewed after three years.

What would you say are some of the best aspects of joining a Cadet Unit for any young person unaware of what goes on in these?

Not only will they learn discipline, they’ll learn teamwork or mateship for want of a better term – mateship may get a bit overdone but I think it’s extremely important. Dannie and I are attending a funeral today – there will be these guys who served in 93 Squadron RAAF, together in World War II – they get to know each other and they get to work as a team and a unit.

I’m Patron for Training Ship (TS) CONDAMINE, which is about to start up again as a unit, probably as TS PITTWATER, based at the Royal Motor Yacht Club – Broken Bay. When it was down at Manly Vale, we had people directing kids that may have been just about to go off the rails towards joining Navy Cadets and this was a great program for them, turned them around – gave them the opposite options, and the skills to fulfil their own potential.

Cadets is also a great benefit for the Australian Defence Forces – when I was Director General ADF Recruiting, some 43% of our intakes had a cadet background. They also had a significantly higher pass rate from their training – they already had the commitment and they already knew what it was about. So even though there is no compulsion for them to join they benefit the Australian Defence Forces, whichever service, should they choose to join – and it gives them that good stable background either way.

The Cadets participation in the Tattoo showcases what cadets are about and it is also a great event for them too.

What I have now done is produce a Business Plan for the Avalon Tattoo as at the moment we’re doing it on the smell of an oily rag and we need to secure a major sponsor to enhance the Tattoo and make it more professional, particularly in administration and marketing.  We once had things like a fireworks display but it’s too expensive for us to do that. We need to employ someone to do ancillary tasks – for example, I spend hours writing out invitations as there is no one else to do it at present – there are ways to make it better if we secure sponsorship.

For the 2014, huge commitments have been made – Patrick Soars of Australian Native Landscapes has confirmed he will be bringing at least one helicopter, Navy is bringing a helicopter, there are going to be armoured vehicles as well – so a good insight into the services and its equipment evolvements once again will be available.

So if people want to get involved in sponsoring the Tattoo they should get in contact with you via the sub-branch?

Yes – that would be great.

When you were the Commanding Officer of  HMAS SUCCESS, the Duke of Gloucester Cup was awarded to the ship. When we have spoken before you mentioned many personnel experiencing difficulties and under review for retention were posted to you as the senior CO afloat – how did you get these people from being potential misfits to a crew that won the Duke of Gloucester Cup?

For a start I had some excellent senior sailors – no matter what military organisation you are in, it is your senior non-commissioned people that have a really good control over what is going on. If you’re in the Army it’s the Sergeants and the Warrant Officers, with the Navy (us) it’s the Petty Officers, the Chief Petty Officers, the Warrant Officers – those seniors non-commissioned people. I had a good core group of them but again, underneath that, I think most Australians when faced with a challenge rise to it. If you have read any of the diary entries of renowned historian CEW Bean, who wrote in WWI about the Australians having a bit of a reputation as larrikins, disinclined to salute, disinclined to participate in officialism and things like that, but had an unspoken, unbreakable creed of “stand by your mate”, you would appreciate how ADF personnel react to a challenge.  I would have to be honest and say we weren’t the most ‘by the book’ ship in the outfit.

I was interviewed by Bob Hawke as we came back into Australia and he said “Graham, you didn’t always follow the rules up in the Gulf.” To which my answer was, “Prime Minister, I never broke a rule… but you’ve got to realise rules are there for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools.” And he said “I like that – can I use it?”

But that is what it’s about. As far as I’m concerned if it’s not in the books – fill your boots, do it!

From my point of view, you interpret rules to their maximum advantage – an example – in the ships you were allowed to give a beer issue; two cans of beer per man per day. I was advised by a Captain of mine many many years ago ‘give a beer issue whenever you can, keep them happy’ – now some chaps would not do it first night out and last night out, not do it when your engaged in exercises, not do it when you’re in a war zone etcetera. My rules were we’d have a beer issue every night but not before you’d finished operations; now, we might finish operations at four in the morning – ‘give them a beer issue’ – one or two people would take it, the rest wanted to go to bed.
In Gulf War 1, other Captains wouldn’t give a beer issue at all because they were under a war threat – then when they got to Dubai or somewhere else the boys would get stuck in because they hadn’t had a beer for 55 days or however long they’d been at sea, they’d make themselves sick. My guys would say ‘we have a beer issue every night’ – and conveniently didn’t say that few took it – but it’s little things like that which make a difference, (make them pull together – make them a team/unit) doing unorthodox things – if I was on my own I’d stop the ship and we’d have “Hands to Swimming” – kick them all over the side and let them cool off, have a break – you’d stop at half past three in the afternoon; the guys going on watch at four could have a quick swim, the guys coming off watch can have a quick swim – throw a couple of water polo balls in for them – it worked, made them a more cohesive team.

You’re speaking to them in their own lingo rather then talking down to your crew?

Yes – and have a spit roast -  things like that, let the sailors have a break.

The other big event coming up is the ANZAC Centenary 2015 which you are also involved in – how are those plans coming along?

Very well. The Committee has been established for a bit over two years now. It’s not under the banner of the RSL but under the Warringah and Mackellar Federal Electorates which covers from Mosman to French’s Forest and Manly to Palm Beach.

We’re having a one off March and a Service on Sunday the 19th of April 2015. The March will assemble at 10am at Boondah Park in Warriewood and march North along Pittwater Road then return on the eastern side to Pittwater Rugby Park where the Service will be held. So far every school in those two Federal Electorates has been written to and only one has indicated that they’re doubtful about attending – every school, including bands and choirs, is enthusiastic about attending along with every sporting organisation, every community group and every RSL. All the Community Services, Police, Fire Brigade, the SES, RFS and the St John Ambulance are all participating in the March and all assisting behind the scenes.

We started out saying we anticipated a March of five thousand but now we are well over five thousand in the March already.
The Service will be followed by a grudge match between the Manly Marlins and the Pittwater Rats – those two rugby clubs will have played their junior grades the day before – the Manly junior grades will be doing the marshalling at the assembly – the Warringah junior grades will be doing the marshalling on the park when we get there. The RFS are doing the vehicle parking.

The Order of Service is already drawn up with both Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop giving Commemorative Speeches, of course the Prime Minister may be doing something else on the day now. Warringah Council are providing a big truck with a dais. We already have commitments for helicopters, armoured vehicles and Australian Light Horse displays.

It was thought the schoolchildren may not be getting enough exposure, just being part of the March and then going to their positions on the Park. We then offered up a chance to get a combined school bands and choirs – these will now go to either side of the stage and provide support for the hymns and the National Anthems. We also have a commitment from the Maori singers for the New Zealand National Anthem.

That’s a huge amount of work involved – in fact, with all the amount of work you’re still doing to ensure the success of the Avalon Tattoo, and for the 2015 Service among all the other duties you work at for your own sub-Branch, where are you getting the energy from?

I go to sleep when I stop. Yes, there is a lot of work in it.
There is one project I’m very happy with at the moment that we’ve been working on.

What’s that?

The Veteran’s Centre – Northern Beaches. Two years ago we forecast that our current Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) pension and welfare system would not be able to handle the problems of the Veterans coming back from Afghanistan. And so we applied to DVA and got funding to set up the Veterans Centre – Northern Beaches as a cooperative group of local Ex-Service Organisations (ESO),

Where is this?

At the moment it’s in the RSL Life Care Centre at Collaroy Plateau but we are hoping to have an additional two offices in the new Community Care section at Mona Vale Hospital. These will be alongside ACAT and all the other Welfare services there.

I’ll explain how we got into this – the ESOs -Legacy, Vietnam Veterans, NASHO’s, Peace Keepers, Peace Makers, RSL - all  did pension and welfare work which was forwarded to DVA. We were duplicating resources and wasting effort, expertise and time. We got the agreement of all these organisations and pooled our people, found out that none of the people doing out were qualified as you must re-qualify every three years or you are not covered by insurance – so we have requalified 22 Welfare Officers and 14 Pension Officers. Now what occurs if any of these areas get a case, someone making an application for a disability or in another area – for example, I was handling a widow the other day for a problem which was referred by the Centre to Legacy– you look at the initial background and then refer it to the Centre and then the Office Manager allocates it to where the best expertise or the best capacity to take it on is.

This has been so successful that the ACT is about to set up a similar organisation to duplicate what we’re doing. Northern Rivers is also trying to follow our model. Mid North Coast is trying to do the same thing and there was a move by ‘Defence Care’ to coordinate all Veterans Centres last week. We said ‘no, we want to work in co-operation with you; we are volunteers, you are all paid professional people; we don’t want to be under your control.’

They want to put up statistics – when a Welfare Officer visits someone in hospital, they are reluctant to record that they spent around 13 minutes with one and ten and a half with another – our people as volunteers have to be treated cautiously.

It sounds as though keeping it personal in cases like these works much better then trying to make it too professional?

Yes.

If someone wishes to get in contact as part of this, what do they do – apply through an RSL or... ?

They can apply through an RSL, any ESO or get in contact with our Veterans Centre Office Manager and Avalon Beach RSL sub-Branch Vice President John McInerney, he is the central contact. So, for example, if I get a case I speak to John and he knows where to refer it – if it’s a mobility issue it refers it to Forestville, they’ve got an expert there, if it’s someone with a heart condition, there’s an expert at Balgowlah, while underwater claims are handled at Avalon – he knows where each case should go.

Sounds like an excellent system.

_______________________________________________

Dannie Sloper, Graham’s wife of almost fifty years, was also acknowledged at the Remembrance Day Luncheon held at Avalon Beach RSL club. Although Dannie has resisted our efforts to speak at length about her decades ‘behind the scenes’, she kindly responded to a few queries on Thursday:

You were acknowledged at this year’s Remembrance Day Service luncheon for all the years of behind the scenes support you have offered to your husband, bringing up children alone while he was at sea, looking after the wives of his Naval Service personnel while their husbands were away – how did this feel?

It was a surprise, it’s never happened before. It can be a challenge to maintain a home when posted all over the world, as we were.

What is it that kept you going when your husband was on deployments of up to 11 months?

Graham was a good letter writer. He would share what was going on in his head when he was at sea through his letters – they were beautiful- very informative, very caring. He would share all the little nonsenses and thank God he did share some of the dangerous and difficult things when he was at the Gulf War. I would get phone calls from some of the wives and mothers of those in his ship’s company who were watching reports on television and was able to read passages from his letters that gave them more up to date information that would allow them to know they were alright. In those early days, when the children were small, there was no support for the families at all. Thankfully that has changed now.

When Graham was away I’d help look after the families of those on his ship. Having his ethos about how to mix with the troops, I’d invite the chief of staff and sailor's wives to morning tea just so they could have a talk together and I think that helped us all. They needed comfort, they needed explanations. I also think my Catholic faith helped me too; I’d made a commitment to Graham. I knew what the Navy was about because of my dad and in his day they were at sea for eleven months at a time. Knowledge like this doesn’t necessarily make it easier of course, experience in fact can make you dread it because you know what may happen.

You have a long association with the RAN ?

My father was in the Navy – I also worked in the Naval Architect’s Office on Garden Island when I came out of Technical College. I did Mechanical Design Drawing, then became a Tracer and slowly worked my way up to becoming an Assistant Draftsperson and then a Draftsperson.

You too are still working very hard now – you knit for the Soibada Knitters constantly, look after your grandchildren when daughter Tamara is in Timor Leste – where do you get the energy from?

Well, I now have chosen to do something for myself as well – I go to the Embroidery Guild every fortnight and have decided on a program of losing a bit of the weight the great cook I live with has put on me!

Commodore Graham Sloper AM RAN (Rtd.) and wife Dannie on Monday.

There is something akin to having a right to have guardian angels in what our ADF services and their existence represents– not just as guardians of our right to be free from assault, but as peace keepers, as teachers of skills that instil discipline and the conscious choice to be straight backed adults in our youth.

The sense that comes from cadets met at The Avalon Tattoo each year of not only doing something for themselves but caring about the communities they are in even when this young, of clearly not being in it just for the ‘fun’ of getting out on water, or going camping, seems to generate a self worth that isn’t ‘big headed’ and clearly gives and grants a firm base to deal with any other challenges life presents with sobriety, foresight and a means to bring about a positive result. They too impart the knowledge that we have in our community people who are prepared to dedicate their lives to something greater than themselves; their country.

As Graham says;
“I have yet to meet anyone who glorifies or enjoys war but it is essential that a nation has a credible deterrent policy of capable defence forces to protect its people and assets.”

With gentlemen such as Mr Sloper still putting so much of their time and energy into raising awareness of what the ADF is really about the generated self awareness in individuals and our community of what we prefer to choose for ourselves and our country is definitely put on its best feet.

HMAS SUCCESS. 

Further:

The Gloucester Cup is the common name for three awards of the Australian Defence Force. Formally referred to as the Duke of Gloucester Cup, the three awards are presented to the most efficient infantry battalion of the Australian Army, ship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the previous year. The awards were created by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in 1946, while he was serving as the Governor-General of Australia, and were first presented in 1947.

1990 HMAS Success at: http://www.defence.gov.au/foi/docs/disclosures/138_1112_Serial_4-6.pdf


INFORMATION ON GRAHAM SLOPER BEING AWARDED LIFE MEMBERSHIP
Details including day and month in chronological sequence of office and position held.

SUB-BRANCH/DISTRICT COUNCIL COMMITTEE SERVICE
Dates in Chronological sequence
From 23/02/2002 to 22/02/2003
From 22/02/2003 to 23/02/2013
From 18/03/2003 to Current
From 18/03/2008 to 15/03/2011
From 15/03/2011 to Current

Office or Position held
Avalon Beach sub-Branch Committee
Avalon Beach sub-Branch President
MWP District Council Delegate
MWP District Council Vice President
MWP District Council President

SUB-BRANCH CITATION IN SUPPORT OF LIFE MEMBERSHIP
A summary of the services rendered in positions:
Patron Navy Cadet Training Ship Condamine 1999 — Current

Avalon Beach sub-Branch Committee 2002 — 2003:
General committee duties including attendance at Committee and Monthly General Meetings and Ceremonial events conducted by the sub-Branch.

Avalon Beach sub-Branch President 2003 — 2013:
Duties include the holding of monthly Committee Meetings, General Meetings, Annual General Meetings and special sub-committee meetings and chairing those meetings; the presentation of strategic plans for consideration by the sub-Branch; overseeing the finances and preparation of the annual budgets for submission and approval by State Branch; responsible for the promotion and ongoing maintenance of the aims and objects of the League and its standing within the local community. The nominee also attends School Commemoration Services and promotes the very successful "Australia My Country" competition, which now operates on the Northern Beaches.

Avalon Beach sub-Branch Recruiting and Membership Officer 2003 — 2013:
Duties included the promotion and sourcing of new members, the processing of applications and submitting to State Branch for approval. During this ten year period the membership increased form 139 to 230 members, with the average age decreasing to 71.2 years.

MWP District Council Delegate 2003 — Current:
Service at District Council included: Vice President 2008 — 2011; President 2011 - Current. Duties included liaison with the local Councils at a senior level, liaison w Federal and local State Members of Parliament, the Northern Beaches LAC, and o local community service groups. The nominee was also the Cadet liaison person al District Council.
Warringah/Mackellar ANZAC Centenary Organising Committee Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Ceremonial sub-Committee 2012 — Current

Northern Beaches Veterans Centre Committee Member 2012 — Current:
This is a project funded by DVA and involving the RSL, Legacy, Vietnam Veterans Association and the National Serviceman's Association. A program to provided the appropriately trained personnel to service all Veterans and families on the northern beaches.
Pittwater Community "Saluting Their Service Commemorations" Grant Liaison 2003 — Current

Avalon Tattoo Director 2006 Current:
This is a very important community initiative instigated by the nominee. The annual Tattoo organised by the sub-Branch is held primarily to promote the youth of the community, in particular the Cadet movement and is supported by the local Council and the Defence Force Community.

GENERAL ACTIVITIES - Welfare and/or Pensions Activities:
The nominee has been the initial point of contact for Pensions and Welfare at the sub-Branch for eleven years, processing both. He works with Legacy and is on the Management Committee of the Northern Beaches Veterans Centre. He conducts RSL Tributes at funeral services.

Youth Activities:
The nominee is the Liaison officer for the sub-Branch and the District Council with the three local ADF Cadet Units. He is the ANZAC Centenary coordinator with all the local schools on the Northern Beaches and provides ADF recruiting and application advice and assistance He works with the local Scouts, Sea Scouts, Life Saving and Sporting groups. He is a catech at Maria Regina Church.

Hospital and Sick Visitation:
He visits members at hospital and at home.

Sub-Branch Recruiting:
The nominee has been the sole sub-Branch recruiter and processor of membership applications for ten years and has assisted with ADF recruiting.

Community Representation - organisation where candidate has represented RSL or sub-Branch:
Pittwater Council; Legacy; ANZAC Centenary Organising Committee; Pittwater Friends of Soibada (Timor Leste); Northern Beaches Veterans Centre.

District Council Representation:
In his role at the District Council the nominee represents the District at ANZAC, Vietnam and Merchant Navy services. He also attends meetings of the other ten sub Branches in the District as required.

State Council Representation:
The nominee is a Trustee of the ANZAC House Trust and a Trustee of the Australian
Forces Overseas Fund (NSW Division) (AFOF).

Community Representation - where Graham has represented RSL or sub-Branch:

MWP District Council Delegate 2003 — Current:
Service at District Council included: Vice President 2008 — 2011; President 2011 - Current. Duties included liaison with the local Councils at a senior level, liaison w Federal and local State Members of Parliament, the Northern Beaches LAC, and o local community service groups. The nominee was also the Cadet liaison person al District Council.
Warringah/Mackellar ANZAC Centenary Organising Committee Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Ceremonial sub-Committee 2012 — Current

Northern Beaches Veterans Centre Committee Member 2012 — Current
This is a project funded by DVA and involving the RSL, Legacy, Vietnam Veterans Association and the National Serviceman's Association. A program to provided the appropriately trained personnel to service all Veterans and families on the northern beaches.
Pittwater Community "Saluting Their Service Commemorations" Grant Liaison 2003 — Current

Avalon Tattoo Director 2006 — Current:
This is a very important community initiative instigated by the nominee. The annual Tattoo organised by the sub-Branch is held primarily to promote the youth of the community, in particular the Cadet movement and is supported by the local Council and the Defence Force Community.

Extracts from Mayor Jacqui Townsend’s Address on presenting Life Membership

What an honour I am bestowed today in handing Graham his Certificate of Life Membership of the Returned Service League of Australia.
The RSL Mission Statement, for those who don’t know, reads “To ensure that programs are in place for the well-being, care, compensation and Commemoration of Serving and ex-Service Defence Force Members and their dependants; and promote Government and Community awareness of the need for a secure, stable and progressive Australia.”

From what I have seen of Graham he is certainly a fine example of honouring the Mission Statement.

From 2002 to date Graham has been a leader I the Avalon Beach Sub-branch, president from 2003 to 2013, and now District Council president since 2011. He has been involved in Navy Cadet Training Ship HMAS Condamine since 1999.

As Manly Warringah Pittwater District Council delegate from 2003 he has liaised with local Councils, with Federal and Local State Members of Parliaments, the BLAC and other community Service Groups.

He is on the Warringah/Mackellar ANZAC Centenary Organising Committee, Deputy and Chairman of the Ceremonial Sub-Committee since 2013 and is on the management committee of the Northern Beaches Veterans Centre. Graham serves on the Pittwater Community Saluting their Service Commemorations as Grant Liaison since 2003 and is the Director of our much loved Avalon Tattoo.
He is involved in welfare activities as the initial point of contact for Pensions and Welfare at the Sub-Branch.

He works with Legacy, is the Liaison Officer for the Avalon Beach RSL Sub-branch, the District Council, with three local ADF Cadet Units and works with the local Scouts, Sea Scouts, Life Saving and Sporting groups.

Graham visits Members in hospital and has been the sole Sub-branch recruiter and processor of Membership applications for ten years.
He represents his local community in Legacy, at ANZAC, Vietnam Veterans and Merchant Navy Services.

At State Level he is a trustee of the ANZAC House Trust and a Trustee of Australia Forces Overseas Fund (NSW Division).
Recently he found time to drive the Mayor of Pittwater, the President and Volunteers of the Pittwater Friends of Soibada to the airport for the visit with Dignitaries in Timor Leste.

A wonderful opportunity has been given today for our community to stand and acknowledge your Service to us Graham and on behalf of the wider community I thank you for the contribution you have given to all of us.


COMMODORE G.V. SLOPER AM RAN (Rtd)
SERVICE BIOGRAPHY

Having spent most of his boyhood as part of the only family on an island off the Queensland Coast, Commodore Graham Sloper joined the Royal Australian Navy at age 15 where his affinity for boats was demonstrated by his winning single handed sailing and sculling championships culminating in the award of boating colours.  He undertook training at the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS SWAN, Britannia Royal Naval College and in HMS WIZARD in the West Indies and South America.

His specialisations of diving, mine warfare and antisubmarine warfare were a distraction to his sporting activities where he won boxing competitions and represented the RAN at rugby, hockey and water polo and the RN also in the last two.  He played rugby union and league until the age of 49, being invited to retire if he wanted his current rank.

He spent 28 years at sea as a Navigation, Diving, Direction and Anti Submarine Warfare Officer before postings as Executive Officer and subsequently in command.  These commands included HMAS IBIS, First Australian Mine Countermeasures Squadron, HMAS PERTH and HMAS SUCCESS including seven months in Gulf War I during which his ship was awarded the prestigious Duke of Gloucester Cup for the most efficient ship in the RAN.

His shore postings include three in UK, one in Hawaii, Director General ADF Recruiting and in command of the RAN Air Station, HMAS ALBATROSS after which, at age 55 after 40 years of service he transferred to the Reserve List where he served a further 10 years.  Graham also holds a current Master Class 1 Merchant Navy qualification.

He remains very active in supporting the ADF, being on the ANZAC House and Australian Forces Overseas Trusts and is heavily involved in the RSL, Legacy, Cadets, local schools and the community. He was President of the Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch for 10 years, is President of the Northern Beaches RSL District Council and is the RSL Cadet Liaison Officer for the area. He is the Director of the annual Avalon Tattoo, a community event which has expanded to be a mini Edinburgh Tattoo.

He is married to Dannie, lives at Avalon where his eldest daughter, a Lieutenant Commander married to a Lieutenant Colonel, with 4 children, has also purchased a house.  His second daughter is a special needs education teacher at Barker College and is a dancing teacher, while his son is a lawyer, specialising in Intellectual Property and Commercial Law.

 Report by A J Guesdon, HMAS SUCCESS Pictures courtesy Graham Sloper - others by AJG,  2013.