Christmas Wish List

Christmas Wish List

I would like a real Christmas dinner
I want some toys to play with
I'd like the kids at school to stop picking on me because of my clothes
I wish my tooth would stop hurting
I'd like a night where Mum and Dad's arguing about money doesn't keep me awake

Anon (http://www.vinnies.com.au)

This year Vinnies' Christmas Appeal is entitled "Help change their story". By donating to this Appeal today or next week, you may make someone's wishes come true. Just fill in one of the envelopes provided and hand it in on the plate or at the Piety stall.

The current economic climate is leading to job losses. Vinnies has now about 5,000 people a day in Australia looking for assistance. Many through no fault of their own have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand to overcome a temporary crisis. Others have longer term problems due to illness, family discord or substance abuse. Our members can give them some needed help which is particularly appreciated over the Christmas period.

Many thanks to those who supported our recent local hamper collection. We also thank you all for your previous generosity in our previous biannual appeals. We hope you will continue to support us this time around.

Congress 2010

Congress 2010

Vinnies is holding Congress 2010 for members across the State, the one in Sydney is being held at St Scholastica’s College, Glebe  from Friday 24th  to Sunday 26th September.

Congress will focus on encouraging and enriching Vincentianspirituality and service  and is open to all members and volunteers at no cost.  The title of Congress 2010 is "One Societyrenewed in faith, serving with love, building for the future"

Some aims of the Congress are to re-invigorate members in Vinnies'  Mission, think about our spirituality and learn more about Vinnies by listening to stimulating speakers and attending practical workshops. New members would benefit a great deal, by attending this Congress and learning more about our Society.

Not only is money needed to assist the poor but so  too is people power. In order to distribute food cards and give some moral support to the marginalised we would welcome new young adult members. If you are young and working part-time or have time to spare we would encourage you to consider following the footsteps of our founder, Frederic Ozanam, and join us in doing Vinnies' charitable works.

For more. visit www.vinnies.org.au



And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

John O'Brien ( Fr Patrick Hartigan )

This verse from a poem in the book Around the Boree Log by John O'Brien expresses the frustration of farmers who see their crops ruined, their topsoil washed away, roads made impassable, cattle and sheep dying, not to mention their homes damaged and many of their personal belongings destroyed.

Our volunteers, on the wet ground throughout the affected areas, assist individuals and families who have been displaced from their homes by helping them get emergency accommodation, food and clothing. They also help those on the farms and in the towns who are suffering financially due to side effects of the floods. Vinnies will be there when the water has receded providing help and sympathy.

In response to the plight of people who have had such losses in the recent flooding in Queensland, the.St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland has opened its Vinnies' Flood Appeal. Donations can be made online at www.vinnies.org.au.

Young People

Young People

The St Vincent de Paul Society struggles for justice rather than just delivering charity, often making submissions to Parliament such as one to the Inquiry into the Commonwealth Commissioner for Young People Bill 2010.

This submission states that, of Australians experiencing homelessness, 12% are children under twelve and 21% are young people aged 12 to 18.It also points out that recent UNICEF data shows that Australia has poor rankings compared with other OECD countries in children's health, education and prosperity. It also talks about the exclusion and inequality experienced by aboriginal children and mentions the discriminatory policies and practices affecting asylum seeker children.

The submission concludes on the basis of its arguments that " the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia, welcomes and warmly supports the establishment of an independent statutory office of Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People, to advocate at a national level for the needs, rights and views of people below the age of eighteen. The creation of this office would be a significant means of highlighting and addressing the concerns we have regarding the structural marginalisation of significant numbers of children and young people in prosperous Australia ".

For more, visit www.vinnies.org.au

Anti-Poverty Week

Anti-Poverty Week

The aims of Anti-Poverty Week, which occurred last week, were to strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and toencourage research, discussion and action to address these problems. The St Vincent de Paul Society was very active in this cause.

Dr John Falzon, National Council CEO, said that if the Government really wants to address poverty it can start by doing three things:

  • Raise the Newstart Allowance by a minimum of $50 a week
  • Impose a moratorium on compulsory Income Management policies
  • Reassess its attitude to people living on the edges of our society.
He went on to say "The St Vincent de Paul Society has long highlighted the inadequacy of the Newstart Allowance, which forces people to live on just $35 a day and condemns them to a life of poverty,"  and  "The Society is also calling on the Government to abandon hard line welfare policies such as compulsory Income Management (IM) that constitutes a direct attack on people’s dignity and self-determination."

Also, Vinnies has officially launched a blog at  designed to engage the public on the issues of poverty and social justice. The National Council President, Tony Thornton said that "the blog will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback and comment on social justice issues of the day,"

The Budget 2914-2015

The Budget 2014-2015
“Everyone has the right to a place to live, a place to learn and a place to work. Government’s job is to strengthen these rights, not rip them up in a frenzy of cuts to the poor in order to protect the unaffordable tax concessions enjoyed by the rich.”
- Dr John Falzon
       The above statement by our National CEO, Dr John Falzon, in a Media Release, entitled  "Vinnies says no to austerity",  early this year, refers to cuts mooted in the government's first budget. Vinnies' vision of how the Australian Budget2014-2015 should be formulated is set out in a Pre-Budget submission.
          In summary. the submission states that the Society believes this Budget must, be based on values such as pragmatism : how much can we afford to spend and how can we ensure revenue and expenditure are sustainable? However human rights must not be forgotten, We believe the government is responsible to help people develop to their potential. We also believe that the Budget's programs should be long-term and evidence-based, We also think that Budget's focus should be on people rather than saving.
         Some spending and revenue producing priorities for the Budget are in the submission discussed.. Similar priorities with estimated savings and expenses can be seen in an ACOSS article entitled " Budget Priorities 2014-2015 ".

80,000 Hands Working

80,000 Hands Working
Where They're Needed Most.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul has produced an informative brochure with the above title.The 80,000 hands belong the 40,000 members of the Society in Australia. The brochure contains a complete list of Society Services plus a selection of Frequently asked Questions, some of which are answered below.
Q: Does  the Society only help Catholics?
No. Although the Society has a Catholic membership and is based on Catholic spiritual principles, we provide assistance to whoever seeks it, without judgment. 
Q: Where does the money come from?
The Society raises money from its members through poor boxes, through the proceeds of Centers of Charity ( op shops ), through donations from the public and some government funding.
Q: Where does the money go?
94 cents of each dollar we receive goes back to people in need.
Other questions concern making donations, getting help, joining the Society and volunteering. Most of these can be answered by visiting Vinnies' website www.vinnies.org.au or contacting the Brookvale Centre or the Piety Stall.
P.S. Best Wishes to All for a Happy and Holy Easter.



The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council marked Australia Day this year by calling on Australians to maintain the spirit of solidarity so powerfully displayed in the flood crises that continue to affect Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Chief Executive Officer, Dr John Falzon, said "We wish to extend a huge thanks to all the people who are generously supporting us. We continue to be inspired by the kindness and good-will of the people of Australia".

Dr Falzon went on to say "The St Vincent de Paul Society wishes to highlight the valuable lesson from these disasters: that people pulling together is what makes the difference. As a volunteer organisation we wish to pay tribute to the spirit of solidarity displayed not only by our own members in flood-affected areas but by all the people who are coming forward to give their time and love".

John added "We continue to welcome new members and supporters to assist us in our practical work with people whose lives have been turned upside-down by these floods. It is our deepest wish that this spirit of solidarity remains alive well beyond this crisis period and that we all remember".

For more, visit www.vinnies.org.au

The Daughters of Charity

The Daughters of Charity
      The recent Crimean crisis brings to mind "The Charge of the Light Brigade" during the Battle of Balaclava and the excellent work of Florence Nightingale in caring for  victims of the Crimean war (1853-1856). However it is not well known that "the Lady with the Lamp" learnt much about nursing wounded soldiers and organising military hospitals from her meetings in France with the Daughters of Charity, a Catholic community of women founded in 1833 by St Vincent de Paul and St Therese de Marillac to serve the poor and marginalised "miserables" of Paris.
      The Daughters of Charity set up soup kitchens, found homes for orphans, organised local hospitals and taught needy children reading and writing. They also helped improve prison conditions and tended to war victims, Reference : Fenner, Gertrude DC (1987) "The Daughters of Charity in the Spanish-American War,"Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 4.
      The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul has now grown to become world wide. The Australian Province has a house in Balaclava Road Marsfield NSW. Activity books about the lives of their founders can be downloaded from their website:
They contain interesting text to read and pictures to colour in, all graded for children in classes K-6.

Fred's Place

Fred's Place
        Tweed Heads is a popular tourist town in Northern NSW close to beaches and rivers. It is surprising to find out that the Richmond -Tweed region has a nearly two thousand people who are homeless and about a third of these live in improvised houses, in parked cars or on the street. Over the last five years about twenty homeless people have died, many on the streets. 
     Vinnies recognised the problem and in June last year opened up a service there called Fred's Place which assists homeless singles and families break the cycle of homelessness.Fred's Place is a fully renovated house with a staffed kitchen, three bathrooms, a laundry, TV and computer. It also provides rooms for consultations with doctors, counsellors, lawyers and housing officials as well as case managers.
     The Spring edition of Vinnes' Frontline magazine relates the story of a mother with cancer and mental illness and her 15 year old autistic son who were living in a car in Tweed Heads.. Both had been subjected to years of domestic abuse. Vinnies was able to find them temporary accommodation, provide them with meals and arrange access to healthcare providers for them. Hopefully, with this hand-up, they will eventually become independent members of the community.

The Immersion Program

The Immersion Program.
         Social justice is at the heart of the St Vincent de Paul Society. We seek fairness and equality for all mankind. We take action and advocate for justice for the marginalised and disadvantaged.such as refugees. the mentally ill and the homeless. Vinnies has also advocated for fast tracking the Closing the Gap program to improve the health, education and living conditions of aborigines up to "white fella" standards. It is pleasing to see the new government responding positively to the issue.
      Our Founder, Bl. Frederic Ozanam said
"The knowledge of social well being and reform is not to be learned from books, nor from the public platform but in climbing the stairs of the poor man's garret, sitting by his bedside, feeling the same cold that pierces him, and sharing the secret of his lonely heart and troubled mind." That is, we learn best about social justice by interacting with our clients and their environment..
      The Spring 2013 edition of Vinnies' magazine The Record contains  two articles on  the annual National Indigenous Immersion Programwhich enables a selected group of  Vincentians to better understand Indigenous people, their culture and spirituality. They live with a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory for ten days at the end of the wet season
For more, visit www.vinies.org.au.