Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Perhaps you're interested in what our logo means, our history, what services we provide, how we're funded or how many retail stores we operate around Australia? 

About the St Vincent de Paul Society

Our members and volunteers reach out to the most vulnerable in our community, including people living in or at risk of poverty, and people who are disadvantaged or marginalised.

Members and volunteers provide assistance through our conferences, Special Works and Vinnies shops, and do not discriminate against cultural, religious or political beliefs.

Although the Society has a primarily Catholic membership and is based on Catholic spiritual principles, we assist whoever seeks our support, without judgement or prejudice.

The Society is a lay Catholic organisation. We have a close relationship with the Catholic Church and are assisted through parishes and schools. But we do not receive any direct funding from the Catholic Church.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international organisation operating in 153 countries and has over 800,000 members worldwide.

In Australia, over 36,000 members and volunteers deliver our services throughout every state and territory. 

Our work is carried out by members and volunteers and is supported by a small number of professional staff.


People Assisted

Canberra / Goulburn


New South Wales

Over 115,000

Northern Territory




South Australia

Over 100,000





Western Australia

Over 58,000



The St Vincent de Paul Society logo is widely recognised in Australia as a symbol of hope and goodwill. The logo has three components: the hands symbol, the text and the slogan.

The hands signify:

The text:

The slogan:


Funding and donations

The Society raises money from its members, through parish poor boxes, proceeds from items sold at Vinnies shops, donations from the public, bequests and some Commonwealth and State/Territory government funding.

The Society does not receive any direct funding from the Catholic Church.

The core work of the Society – including home visitation and Vinnies shops – is carried out by the Society's members and volunteers. These activities do not receive government funding. They are funded through donations, fundraising activities and enterprises run by the Society.

However, some of the Society’s Special Works do receive government funding, including aged care facilities, housing and homeless services and supported employment for people with disabilities.

We sincerely appreciate your support. You can donate money by clicking the 'donate' button on this page or by calling 13 18 12. Donations of $2 and above are tax deductible. Generally, when you donate money, you are donating to the Society in your home jurisdiction.

Donations of clothing, furniture and household goods can also be made at your local Vinnies shop. This donation will go towards assisting people in your local area.

Donate now

When you donate to a specific Special Work, we ensure that it goes directly to where you want it. The Society prides itself on ensuring all funds donated are used specifically and only for the purposes for which the donation is intended.

Our history

The Society was founded by 20-year-old university student Frédéric Ozanam.

The Society was established in Paris in 1833.

At this time, people were experiencing tremendous political and social upheaval due to changes of government, the Industrial Revolution and unjust employment practices.

Frédéric Ozanam gathered some colleagues and began to respond in practical ways to the poverty and hardship he saw in the lives of people around him. They visited people in their homes and offered friendship and support. This practice, known today as home visitation, remains the core activity of the Society.

The Society was founded in Australia by Father Gerald Ward.

In 1854, Father Gerald Ward established the Society in Melbourne to assist people affected by the rapidly expanding immigrant population.

With the discovery of gold in 1851 and the rush to the goldfields of central Victoria, the population doubled and homeless, deserted children roamed the streets.

Father Ward suggested that the main reason for the first Australian conference was for ‘the protection of male and female orphans’.

In a submission to the government of the day, Father Ward stated that the new conference was aimed at ‘the relief of the destitute, in a manner as much as possible permanently beneficial and the visitation of the poor families’.



St Francis' Conference, Melbourne

5 March 1854

Western Australia
Perth Conference

8 December 1865

New South Wales
St Patricks' Church Hill Conference

24 July 1881

South Australia
St Francis Xavier Conference

April 1884

St Brigids' Red Hill Conference

18 February 1894

Church of the Apostles Launceston Conference

12 July 1899

Northern Territory
St Marys' Darwin Conference

27 September 1949


29 December 1895

Saint Vincent de Paul is the international patron of the Society because his work with people living in poverty inspired the Society’s founder. The Society follows Saint Vincent de Paul’s teachings and compassion for people in need.

Patron Saint Vincent de Paul

Our services

Find help

The Society provides :

  • Services for people who are aged
  • Services for people with a disability
  • Disaster recovery support
  • Services for people impacted by family & domestic violence
  • Services for people with drug, alcohol & other addictions
  • Education and employment
  • Emergency housing and services for people who are homeless
  • Emergency Relief Program & support
  • Financial assistance & counselling
  • Food relief (including in-home and soup vans)
  • Services for migrants and refugees
  • General support (including home, hospital & prison visits)

*Not all services are available in each state

Find help

The Society’s members and volunteers deliver our services and support programs within local communities.

Anyone requiring assistance can contact the Society in their state or territory directly:


Phone No.



(02) 6282 2722


New South Wales

(02) 9560 8666


Northern Territory

(08) 8948 8100



1800 846 643


South Australia

(08) 8112 8700



(03) 6333 0822



1800 305 330


Western Australia

1300 794 054



Vinnies shops



Canberra / Goulburn


New South Wales


Northern Territory




South Australia






Western Australia




Vinnies shops resource local conference activities, providing clothing or furniture free of charge to struggling families or individuals identified through the home visitation process.

Goods donated at Vinnies shops assist this process, but remaining stock is also sold to the public at reasonable prices, generating revenue which helps fund the Society’s work within the community.

Membership and volunteering

A member of the Society is a volunteer who joins a conference and attends regular meetings which include scripture discussion, prayer, reflection and how to improve assistance given within the local conference area.

A member takes part in the work of the Society, providing assistance through charitable works including home visitation.

Become a member

The Society recognises that the level of involvement members and volunteers can commit to will vary depending on their personal circumstances, including study, work and family commitments. For this reason, we offer three forms of membership:

  1. Conference members are committed to living the Society mission and serving those in need and attending regular conference meetings.
  2. Associate members are committed to living the Society mission and serving those in need but do not attend conference meetings.
  3. Volunteer members support the mission of the Society through acts of voluntary service in any of the Society’s works (programs).

Mini Vinnies

4 to 12 years
(primary school age)

School/College Conferences

12 to 18 years
(secondary school age)

Vinnies Youth/Young Adult Conferences

17 to 35 years

Society Members

18 years and up

If you are interested in membership or becoming a volunteer, you can contact your local Conference through the nearest Vinnies shop or call the St Vincent de Paul Society in your State.

Get involved


Phone No.


Canberra / Goulburn

02 6282 2722


New South Wales

02 9560 8666


Northern Territory

08 8948 8100



07 3010 1000


South Australia

08 8112 8700



03 6333 0822



03 9895 5800


Western Australia

08 9475 5400


State Members Volunteers Total Conferences
Canberra-Goulburn 546 985 1,531 49
New South Wales 3,138 7,742 10,880 368
Northern Territory 57 295 352 4
Queensland 2,581 4,770 7,351 205
South Australia 796 1,782 2,578 60
Tasmania 263 721 984 28
Victoria 3,574 6,434 10,008 245
Western Australia 1,114 2,235 3,349 76
TOTAL 12,069 24,964 37,033 1,037

A Conference is a group of members who come together to fulfil the mission of the Society in accordance with the Rule.

A Conference may be established within any community, such as a parish, town, suburb, school, university, workplace, ethnic or social group. We are flexible about how Conferences operate as our members come from all walks of life, some are retired, some work full-time or part-time, some are university or high school students. 

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