Making Christmas Wishes Come True

The number of parents who may be facing the onset of Christmas with trepidation is of concern to the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, as households battle to pay off mounting energy bills and face increasing housing stress.


NSW Society CEO, Jack de Groot launched the 2017 Vinnies Christmas Appeal with the sobering prediction that this year Christmas will be tough for many families, with less cash available for the basics, let alone presents and family gatherings.

“Homelessness is also on the rise. While data from the 2016 Census has not been released yet, we know that in 2011, 105,000 people experienced homelessness, and of these, 17,000 were children younger than 12 years old. We anticipate the figures will have increased at last year’s Census and will be even worse this year,” said Mr de Groot.

According to NSW President, Denis Walsh, “between July 2016 to March 2017, almost 60 per cent of people assisted by the Society were in housing stress, where their rent takes up more than 30 per cent of their income.

“This was before the July energy price hikes, so the picture looks very grim. The nativity story of no room at the inn may be the reality facing Australian families, just like Sharon*,” said Mr Walsh.

Sharon’s childhood had been traumatic. When she found out she was pregnant she hoped it would be a new beginning, to start a family in a loving relationship. Until then, the impact of her trauma had been so debilitating she had been unable to hold down a job, develop trusting relationships or find a stable home. When the relationship failed, her inability to pay her rent meant she had to move regularly, leaving everything behind and starting from scratch. Having a young child meant she couldn’t find suitable work. This further exacerbated her extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

“You are just so unsettled. You worry because inside you know that even though you have a bed and a home and food, it won’t be forever and could get taken any minute,” says Sharon. 

As a last resort Sharon sought help from the Society. Mr de Groot explained how case management was able to assist her rebuild her life.

“Our case workers assist women like Sharon to find suitable housing. Then, with secure tenancy for Sharon and her child, her case worker can focus on providing longer term support to deal with mental health concerns, budget management and giving Sharon advice about employment options.

“We rely on the generosity of the public to fund services like these. Our annual Christmas Appeal helps people at a time they feel most vulnerable and isolated. We want to make sure that thousands of Australian families who are struggling to make ends meet can enjoy a home cooked Christmas meal and can give their children a gift. Last year over the festive season we gave out nearly $4.5 million in assistance. We could not have done this without the support of our donors across the state.

“Too many families are struggling as a result of circumstances beyond their control. This Christmas we want to restore some dignity to their shattered lives and make the simple wishes of their children come true,” said Mr de Groot.

To show your support and make a donation visit www.vinnies.org.au or call 13 18 12.