A couple up photograph of a man and two women who are part of a seated audience and listening intently.

The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded by a 20 year old student named Frederic Ozanam in 1833. It was established by like minded individuals who wished to put their faith into action.

This compassionate outlook, enthusiasm and vision continues today in Australia. There are thousands of people who every day share their time, care for humanity and energy to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people all around Australia.

The Society in Australia

The first Australian conference was founded in Victoria by Fr Gerald Ward at St Francis' Church, Melbourne on 5 March 1854, just 21 years after the founding of the first conference in Paris.

Find out more about Vinnies in your state or territory.

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The meaning of social justice for the Society

When we speak about social justice we go to the heart of what the St Vincent de Paul Society stands for.

We are called, as Vincentians, to feed, clothe, house and assist our brothers and sisters who are forced onto the margins of society.

We are also called to ask why they are left out and pushed out.

We follow the teachings of the Scriptures:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
protect the rights of those who are helpless.

Speak out and pronounce a sentence of justice,
defend the cause of the wretched and the poor.”
(Proverbs 31:8-9)


In assisting people who are denied equality and dignity we make a prophetic statement about the dignity and equality of all people in God’s sight.

In asking the simple question about the causes of injustice we issue a prophetic call to all people of good will to work creatively to build equality and justice into our society.

Especially through our national and state councils we give voice to those who are voiceless, standing with them and advocating for them.

As Vincentians we do not close our eyes to the growing division in Australia and the world between the increasingly prosperous and the increasingly poor.

The accumulation of wealth on the one hand is connected with the accumulation of poverty on the other, characterised by oppression on the basis of class, race, gender, age, disability, and mental and physical illness; forced migration, homelessness, unemployment, insecure and poorly paid work; and declining levels of social security and public infrastructure.

We seek to share both bread and hope with our brothers and sisters, recognising Christ in their painful stories and witnessing to the Good News of justice and compassion. 

They entrust a little of their lives to us. We honour this trust by speaking the truth of their stories and calling on the people of our nation to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

For more information, read our National Social Justice and Advocacy Committee Policy Statement