“I hate to think where we’d be if Vinnies didn’t come to our rescue. Honestly, we had nothing.” 

When Greg’s ex-partner lost her long-term job due to COVID-19, they decided that he would take on full-time custody of their three children. Greg first needed to find appropriate housing to live in, as the family had been issued with a warrant which would have ended up forcibly removing them from their home.

Greg's search was starting to look hopeless. After exhausting all options and applying for housing and temporary accommodation through various services, there were simply no available resources for Greg and his children. “We were in dire straits,” Greg recalls.

The situation reached a low point when the only option available was to sleep in a tent. Fortunately, after a failed attempt at camping in the cold and long sleepless nights in his car, Greg was referred to a Vinnies conference, a group of St Vincent the Paul Society’s members who volunteer their time to assist people in need.

A conference member visited Greg, listened to his story, and helped him with the financial, emotional, and material assistance he needed. This way, Vinnies provided temporary relief and allowed Greg to secure an adequate and safe place for the family.

“Unfortunately, cases like Greg’s are all too familiar to Vinnies’ conference members who respond daily to calls for help. The shortfall of almost 3,000 public housing dwellings and the reduction of the COVID supplement are leaving many individuals and families struggling to cover their basic needs. Some even find themselves on the brink of homelessness,” said Barnie van Wyk, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

“Providing emergency relief and homelessness services to temporary as well as long term rough sleepers is at the core of what St Vincent de Paul Society provides to vulnerable members of the community.”

“In the last financial year, Vinnies Street to Home program assisted over 200 outreach clients and provided case management to 41 clients. On any given night, the Vinnies Night Patrol vans serve anywhere between to 30 to 40 people.

“We’re concerned to see so many families waiting several months, even years, to access public housing. A place to call home is increasingly out of reach for many Canberrans, and charities like Vinnies are on the frontlines of assisting these individuals and families”

“There is a critical need for permanent, longer term housing solutions; this is why we continue to advocate for systemic change that combats poverty and homelessness in our region,” said Mr van Wyk.

This year’s Homelessness Week takes place from 1 to 7 August with the theme: “Everybody needs a home,” Vinnies would like to reiterate its support of the Housing First approach that could provide permanent solutions to the long-standing issue of homelessness and housing stress in the ACT.

In keeping with the Vinnies ACT Election Statement (September 2020) “We need to ask the government to commit to the principle of housing as a human right and to agree that it is their role ensure that all individuals and families, in the ACT have access to safe, secure and affordable housing.”

To mark Homelessness week this year, Vinnies will be organizing a number of activities over the course of the week. This includes an internal Winter clothing drive to support the Vinnies shops and a Community BBQ at Oaks Estate, home of Vinnies Community Inclusion Program.


Vinnies adult education program Clemente will also be partnering with the National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA) to present a screening of “A Reckoning in Boston” at the on 6th August. Tickets are available through the NFSA website nfsa.gov.au/events/national-homeless-week-reckoning-boston-qa

*We use a different name to protect our companion’s privacy. 

29 July 2021