The first Australian conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society met in Melbourne at St Francis’ Church on 5 March 1854. The first president was Fr Gerald Ward.
The Society was established as a result of the discovery of gold in 1851 which caused a rush to the goldfields of central Victoria; Melbourne's population doubled and left women and children homeless and on the streets.
Today in Victoria the Society has over 300 conferences, made of dedicated men and women who live out their faith in action by providing hope, comfort and dignity to disadvantaged Victorians, trapped by their circumstances due to sickness, job loss, mental illness and family breakdown.
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s members and volunteers provide practical support, advocacy and friendship to the most vulnerable in our community.
The majority of assistance provided by the Society is through local groups, known as conferences, our soup van services and Vinnies Shops. However the Society also provides assistance to asylum seekers and refugees seeking to rebuild their lives in a new country, as well as supporting individuals and communities in developing countries. The St Vincent de Paul Society is one of the most well recognised and highly regarded charitable organisations in Australia.
The Society’s members, volunteers and employees reach out and serve the most vulnerable in our community through:
- Home Visitation
Visiting people in their homes, we extend the hand of friendship and offer practical support to people who seek our assistance. In some rural areas, due to distance, help is provided through the local conference assistance centre.
- Vinnies Youth
Supporting and encouraging young people in schools, universities and youth conferences to be active in assisting people in need in their local communities.
- Soup Vans
Offering meals, friendship and referral services to people living on the streets or in unstable accommodation. The first of the nine soup vans commenced operating in Fitzroy in 1975.
- Asylum Seekers & Refugees
Providing a range of services to support and assist refugees to rebuild their lives and establish a home in their new country.
- Overseas Development
Providing support to people in developing countries, fostering links and cultural exchange.
- Vinnies Shops
Providing quality clothing, furniture and household goods to people in need who are being supported by their local conference. Donated goods not required for supporting people in need is offered for sale to the public and the revenue generated is redistributed to further support the local welfare work of the Society.
- Education & Tutoring
- Assisting students from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnic groups to embrace and develop their educational experience through reading and tutoring programs.
- VincentCare Victoria
Established in 2003 by the Society to provide a range of professional accommodation and support services to people that are facing disadvantage and those that are ageing throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria.
VincentCare has developed service delivery models known as ‘hubs’. Each hub comprises a different mix of accommodation, support and health services driven by the needs of the catchment population.
> Glenroy Community Hub
> Inner Melbourne Community Hub
> Seniors’ Living Community Hub
> Social Enterprises Hub