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Homelessness Forum (act)
Homelessness: It’s About You, Can we halve Canberra by 2020? As Canberra celebrates its Centenary, homelessness remains a key civic challenge. A part of the Centenary of Canberra, the forum raises the profile of poverty and homelessness in our community. Can we find new solutions and new approaches by looking afresh at homelessness in Canberra? More...
The first Conference of the Society of St Vincent De Paul, outside of Sydney, was formed in Goulburn on Sunday morning 29 December 1895. Thirty eight names of persons willing to become members were handed in and the branch was duly established.
In 1924 St Vincent de Paul began in Canberra. The first Conference was at St Christopher’s parish Manuka. As the city grew and town centres were established the number of parishes also grew which included active St Vincent de Paul Conferences providing assistance to those in need.
The first Vinnies Centre (Retail Store) was opened in Narrabundah in 1962 and these have grown to 6 Centres in the Canberra area as well as 18 Centres throughout the country areas of the Archdiocese.
The first Kids’ Camp was held in 1978 in response to the needs of children who have no opportunity to have a holiday. In the following years Youth Conferences were also established. The Young Carers Programme which caters for children who care for a parent or sibling with an illness or disability was commenced in 1997.
In January 2009 the Canberra/Goulburn Central Council was formed. The Central Council is responsible for all areas within the Archdiocese of Canberra/Goulburn which is divided into 9 Regional Councils comprising 49 Local Conferences; as well as 29 Youth and Young Adult Conferences. Throughout the Archdiocese there are 26 Vinnie’s Centres (Retail Stores) as well as 6 Special Works which involve homeless shelters; family support; a drop – in centre and educational programmes.
Former Territory President - Anthony Thornton, provides an insight into how the Society began outside of Sydney.
On Sunday morning 29 December 1895 the first conference of the Society outside Sydney was formed in Goulburn. The following is an extract from the Goulburn Evening Penny Post of 31 December that year.
“On Sunday last, after the 11o’clock Mass at SS Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, a meeting was held in the boy’s school room, at which a branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society was established. The Hon. L.F. Heydon, M.L.C. chief president of the Society’s head conference of Australasia, accompanied Mr. Hempton (chief secretary) and Mr Ecans, of Sydney was present.
The meeting was presided over by his Lordship Dr. Lanigan, and the Right Rev. Dr. Gallagher, Father Donovan and Father Griffin were also in attendance.
In Sydney alone there are 26 branches. The Goulburn branch is the first one established outside the Sydney colony. The objects of the Society are purely charitable, as its purpose is to relieve all genuine cases of poverty coming under its notice irrespective of creed or nationality. It is sustained by voluntary contributions by the members, who are not allowed to received assistance from the Society themselves. A member must resign before he can be assisted. It is also purely a lay Society.
Thirty eight names of persons willing to become members were handed in and the branch was duly established, Mr C. Gillespie being chosen as president, Messrs. Fitzgerald, McShane and W.E. Dwyer vice- presidents, Mr J.A. (undecipherable) secretary.
These officers will form a board of management and the members will meet every Wednesday evening in the school room. Everything is to be carried out as with the rules of the Society. When any case is brought under their notice two brothers pay a visit and investigate the matter and report at the next meeting.”
Members of St Vincent de Paul believe that poverty and suffering are not just a problem of the 19 Century. There is a need to serve the poor today, just as there was in 1833 when the Society first started. This is a challenge to all people – but is taken up particularly by the Society as an expression of the member’s faith.