Learn more about the people and facts behind one of Australia's largest and most iconic charities. 

General - Who does the Society help?

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s members and volunteers reach out to the most vulnerable in our community through our Conferences, Special Works and Vinnies shops. 
Members and volunteers assist people in need and do not discriminate against cultural, religious or political beliefs.

Does the Society only help Catholics?

Although the Society has a primarily Catholic membership and is based on Catholic spiritual principles, we provide assistance to whoever seeks it, without judgement or prejudice.

How big is the St Vincent de Paul Society?

The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international organisation operating in 149 countries and has over 950,000 members worldwide. The Society has a presence on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica perhaps.

How is the St Vincent de Paul Society staffed?

The Society’s work is carried out by members and volunteers and is supported by a small number of professional staff.

How many people does Vinnies assist annually in Australia?

State

People Assisted

Canberra / Goulburn

TBA

New South Wales

474,015

Northern Territory

63,000

Queensland

260,000

South Australia

155,000

Tasmania

40,000

Victoria

660,000

Western Australia

150,000

TOTAL

2,243,261

 

Is the St Vincent de Paul Society a part of the Catholic Church?

The Society is a lay Catholic organisation and does not receive any direct funding from the Catholic Church. The Society enjoys a close relationship with the Catholic Church and is assisted through parishes and schools.

What does the Society's logo mean?

The St Vincent de Paul Society logo is used in many countries and is recognised everywhere 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 - Where does the money come from?

The Society raises money from its members, through Parish poor boxes, proceeds from items sold at Vinnies shops, donations from the public and some government funding.

How do I donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society?

You can donate to the Society by using the online donation facility provided on this website or by calling the 13 18 12. Donations of $2 and more to the Society are tax deductible.
 
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.

If I donate money does it actually go to those who need it?

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 for what they are intended. 

Is the Society government funded?

The core work of the Society is carried out by members and volunteers and does not receive government funding ie home visitation and Vinnies shops. These services are funded through donations, fundraising activities and enterprises run by the Society.
 
However some of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Special Works do receive government funding ie aged care facilities, housing and homeless services, supported employment for people with disabilities.
 
The Society does not receive any direct funding from the Catholic Church.

History - When was the St Vincent de Paul Society established?

The St Vincent de Paul Society was established in Paris 1833

When was the Society established in each State of Australia?

State

Date

Victoria
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

Queensland
St Brigids' Red Hill Conference

18 February 1894

Tasmania
Church of the Apostles Launceston Conference

12 July 1899

Northern Territory 
St Marys' Darwin Conference

27 September 1949

Canberra/Goulburn
Conference to be advised

29 December 1895

 

Who founded the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia?

The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Australia on 5 March 1854 at St Francis’ Church, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne by Fr Gerald Ward.
 
Fr Gerald Archbold Ward was born in London 1806 and migrated to Australia on the 787-ton Digby on 7 September 1850 with Fr Patrick Dunne and 42 other passengers. Fr Ward died the 14 January 1858 at the age of 52.

Who founded the St Vincent de Paul Society?

The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris 1833 by 20 year old university student, Frédéric Ozanam. 

Born in French occupied Milan on 23 April 1813, Frédéric Ozanam was inspired by Saint Vincent de Paul’s legacy and decided to name the Society after the famous French saint of the poor. Frédéric Ozanam died on 8 September 1853 at the age of 40. He was beatified in Paris by Pope John Paul II on 22 August 1997.
 

Who is the Society's patron and why?

Saint Vincent de Paul is the international patron of the Society.
 
Frédéric Ozanam was inspired by Saint Vincent de Paul’s legacy and decided to name the Society after the famous French saint of the poor. The Society follows his teachings and compassion for people in need

Why was the St Vincent de Paul Society established in Australia?

In 1854, Fr Gerald Ward established the Society 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.
 
Fr 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, Fr Ward stated that the new Conference aimed at “the relief of the destitute, in a manner as much as possible permanently beneficial and the visitation of the poor families.”

Why was the St Vincent de Paul Society established in Paris?

In Paris 1833, the 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 St Vincent de Paul Society.

Services - What services does the Society provide?

The Society provides the following services:

•    Advocacy
•    Aged Care facilities
•    Budget counselling
•    Care and support centres
•    Childcare services
•    Children's activities and holiday programs
•    Disability services
•    Disaster recovery
•    Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services 
•    Emergency accommodation 
•    Employment support services 
•    Friendship programs for people with a mental illness 
•    Home and hospital visitation 
•    Homeless accommodation and support services 
•    Low-cost food outlets 
•    Migrant and refugee support services 
•    Mobile food services 
•    Overseas support programs 
•    Prison visitation 
•    Refuge accommodation for women and children 
•    School-base mentoring programs 
•    Self-care aged units 
•    Subsidised accommodation for tertiary students 
•    Support programs for people with a mental illness
•    Supported employment for people with a physical or mental disability
•    Tutoring program for refugees 
•    Vinnies Centres 
•    Volunteer programs 
•    Youth drop-in centres 
•    Youth programs

*Not all services are available in each state

 

How do I get help?

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s members and volunteers reach out to the most vulnerable in our community through our Conferences, Special Works and Vinnies shops. 
Members and volunteers assist people in need and do not discriminate against cultural, religious or political beliefs.
 
Anyone requiring assistance can contact the Society on:

State

Phone No.

Email

Canberra/Goulburn

(02) 6282 2722

info@svdp-cg.org.au

New South Wales

(02) 9560 8666

vinnies@vinnies.org.au

Northern Territory

(08) 8948 8100

admin@svdpnt.org.au.

Queensland

(07) 3217 3700

state.admin@svdpqld.org.au

South Australia

(08) 8112 8700

svdp@svdpsa.org.au

Tasmania

(03) 6333 0822

svdptas@bigpond.net.au

Victoria

1800 305 330

info@svdp-vic.org.au

Western Australia

(08) 9475 5400

info@svdpwa.org.au

 

How many Vinnies shops are there?

State

Centres

Canberra / Goulburn

25

New South Wales

267

Northern Territory

5

Queensland

129

South Australia

33

Tasmania

35

Victoria

102

Western Australia

45

TOTAL

627

 

What happens to goods donated to Vinnies Shops?

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 thus generating revenue which helps fund the Society’s work within the community.

Membership - How many Conference members and volunteers does the Society have?

State

Members           Volunteers      Total
 

Conferences

Canberra / Goulburn

640                   3016               3656

55

New South Wales

9884               14416             24,300

424

Northern Territory

72                        160                232

7

Queensland

2,888                 6887            9775

211

South Australia

729                   1615             2344

63

Tasmania

245                   1020             1265

30

Victoria

3949                8750             12699

303

Western Australia

1543               2161               3704

73

TOTAL

19950            38025             57,975

1,163

 

At what age can I become involved with the Society?

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

 

Can I join the Society or become a volunteer?

Yes. Our members and volunteers enjoy a wide range of activities. If you are interested in 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.

State

Phone No.

Email

Canberra / Goulburn

02 6282 2722

volunteer@svdp-cg.org.au

New South Wales

02 9560 8666

volunteer@vinnies.org.au

Northern Territory

08 8948 8100

admin@svdpnt.org.au

Queensland

07 3010 1000

volunteer@svdpqld.org.au

South Australia

08 8112 8700

volunteering@svdpsa.org.au

Tasmania

03 6333 0822

svdptas@bigpond.net.au

Victoria

03 9895 5800

volunteer@svdp-vic.org.au

Western Australia

08 9475 5400

volunteer@svdpwa.org.au

 

Is a volunteer a member?

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

  1. Conference members committed to living the Society mission and serving those in need and attending regular conference meetings.
  2. Associate members 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).
What does the word Conference mean?

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.

Who/what are members of the Society?

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.