August eVision 2017
It has taken significant effort but thanks to Vinnies members and supporters, our Right To Home petition for affordable housing was discussed in the NSW Parliament on Thursday 3 August.
It began last year when Social Justice representatives across NSW drafted a petition calling on the Government to change State planning rules to set aside for affordable housing a minimum 15 per cent of all new residential developments.
Through the hard work of members, volunteers and staff, we exceeded the 10,000 signatures required – in the end, we had over 16,300 signatures. This is a remarkable achievement.
Vinnies members not only flooded our mailbox with completed petitions, they also flooded NSW Parliament House and broke the record for the number of people who have turned out to see a petition tabled – all 180 supporters.
CEO Jack de Groot delivered the huge box of petitions to the office of Damien Tudehope, Liberal Member for Epping, in May so that he could introduce it to the Parliament. Jack also met with Luke Foley to discuss the petition.
“A week later we were delighted to hear the NSW Labor Party’s announcement that at least 25 per cent of new properties constructed on government-owned land will be set aside as affordable housing as well as our proposal of 15 per cent on all new developments,” says Jack.
“On Thursday Luke Foley again confirmed in Parliament that the Labor Government, if elected, would support our inclusionary zoning targets, offering a solution to housing security in our most populous state.
“Jenny Leong from the Greens also stood up to support our proposal and congratulated the St Vincent de Paul Society on changing the dialogue from whether we should have inclusionary zoning targets, to how much they should be.
“While we didn’t get the multi-partisan response we were hoping for, we were able to make support for more affordable housing stronger and closer to becoming a reality. Luke Foley and deputy opposition leader Michael Daley both spoke of the fast-acting work of Vinnies to secure meetings with them and to educate them on the seriousness of this housing crisis and how targets for affordable housing can help.”
This petition has reaffirmed Vinnies as a powerful voice in the community sector, one that politicians not only listen to but also act on our advice. Vinnies will always speak up for people experiencing disadvantage and make their voices heard.
You can listen to Jack de Groot speaking after the event on ABC Mornings with Wendy Harmer (listen from 39:25): http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/mornings/mornings/8755656
The number of CEOs participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepouts in NSW is continuing to grow, ensuring the event remains the biggest annual fundraiser for the Society.
On a Thursday night in late June, where temperatures dropped to 7 degrees, 357 CEOs and community leaders slept out on the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, with a further 36 at Wollongong’s St Mary Star of the Sea College. It was slightly warmer (9 degrees) at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium where 56 people slept under the stadium with only two sheets of cardboard between them and a concrete floor.
A total of $1.95 million has been raised in NSW and $5.5 million across Australia. The Newcastle tally is set to rise by an additional $56,135 through the generosity of the Cootes Family Foundation.
The smooth running of the Vinnies CEO Sleepouts relies on the support of volunteers – employees, members and existing volunteers – as well as corporate partners. They work hard setting up and making sure that everything runs like clockwork. A big thank you goes to the 160 volunteers in Sydney, 15 in Wollongong and 25 in Newcastle.
It was CEO Jack de Groot’s first exposure to a Sleepout.
“The event was organised and run with utter precision so my thanks go to everyone who was involved who worked so hard to ensure they ran without a hitch,” he said.
“At all the events people who had experienced homelessness spoke from the heart about their journeys. Their stories illustrated to the CEOs how personal circumstances can shift like quicksand.
“I saw how much of an impact the night had on the CEOs, turning around their preconceived ideas; it can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, education level.”
Another first timer was Greg Taylor, CEO of Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure. He was Sydney’s top fundraiser with $58,480 raised.
“Abergeldie’s motto is ‘building better communities’ and my fundraising was largely made up of donations by our staff and management who have been helping to build better communities by supporting this event for over 10 years,” said Greg.
“The thing that struck me most was the noise of 356 CEOs snoring in disharmony – which if I was sleeping rough would be the noise of traffic or passers-by. That, combined with the damp, cold night air made it a brutally effective experience. I was glad to be back in my own bed the next night.”
Mamamia founder Mia Freedman also attended for the first time. “Participating in the Sleepout with the Mamamia leadership team helped open my eyes, my heart and my mind to homelessness. It is an incredible initiative organised by an army of tireless volunteers. What they do not just for the Sleepout but every day and night of the year is extraordinary,” she said.
Matt, one of the speakers at the Sydney event, said: “The work that Vinnies does all around the country is truly remarkable.”
He valued the fundraising and knowledge sharing of the event because it facilitated a positive change.
“And what an opportunity for all of us to never walk past another homeless person, drug addict, or any broken human being for that matter, and assume there is no hope. Because thanks to organisations like Vinnies, there is always hope.”
There were regular interviews with CEOs during the lead-up on the Sky News Business, our long term National Partner and they were there on the night hosting a live outdoor broadcast. Again, The Australian, another long standing National Partner, ran advertisements in the months preceding the CEO Sleepout.
Thanks to all of the sponsors that assisted us nationally and locally to keep event costs to a minimum. To see who they are visit www.ceosleepout.org.au.
The Blacktown Community Hub opened its doors in March at a new, purpose-designed space at the Blacktown Vinnies Shop.
It is the first of several Hubs planned for Western Sydney in the near future. The Blacktown Hub is a person-centred support and referral service operated by Parramatta Central Council working with Conferences in the Prospect region.
“People come here for emergency relief, assessment, advocacy and referral support for people experiencing disadvantage, in addition to the home visitations our members provide,” said Anne Stanfield, President.
“We are assisting people to achieve wellbeing in all aspects of their life through an initial in-depth assessment and ongoing evaluation process.
“With a ‘no wrong door approach’ clients now have more options about how to access support from St Vincent de Paul as well as information on other services.
“Volunteers and staff have all undergone training so they are well equipped to meet the complex needs of the people who seek our assistance, with a person-centred approach.”
In the first three weeks the Community Hub had assisted well over 100 individuals and families. One third were referred to other services so they can receive longer term specialised support.
“We also assisted two families facing eviction orders and secured a unit for a family facing homelessness.”
The Hub will be officially opened on Friday 4 August at 1.30.
Visits to the Hub are by appointment, while self-help facilities including phone, computer and resources are also available for people to drop in and use.
Open Monday to Friday 9-4pm, it is located at the rear of the Vinnies Shop, 23 David Lane, Blacktown.
Appointments can be made by dropping in or phoning 8861 9777.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) and the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW (Vinnies) are working in partnership to support people who arrived in New South Wales after fleeing persecution overseas and do not currently have access to the assistance they need to resolve their immigration status.
Under this joint initiative, lawyers from RACS’ Justice for Refugees program will provide judicial review referral assistance to people who have had a negative Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) decision or a Department of Immigration decision refusing to grant them a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) and excluding them from review in the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA).
At the same time, the Vinnies Asylum Seeker Program will provide people going through this judicial review process with financial and asework support to make sure they can meet their daily needs and live in dignity until their immigration status is resolved.
The Justice for Refugees program has built a network of barristers and law firms who provide opinions on prospects of success on an application for judicial review and, if there are prospects, representation in the Federal Circuit Court on a pro bono or no win no fee basis where appropriate.
Vinnies NSW CEO Jack de Groot said: “Successive changes to the Migration Act along with cuts to legal and translation support services have left us with an unjust system for those seeking refuge and safety in Australia. It is impossible for people who are seeking asylum to navigate this legal process on their own.
“RACS and Vinnies realised that the punitive approach taken by the Government was preventing people who are seeking asylum from not only accessing a fair process, but also from being able to meet their most basic human needs. Many of the people seeking our help are left in limbo until their immigration status is sorted and, in the meantime, survive only because of family, friends and community support.
“The Vinnies Asylum Seeker Program provides case management, financial assistance and wrap-around support to people seeking asylum who may be at risk of homelessness as they have no form of income and have minimal support options available to them.”
Tanya Jackson-Vaughan RACS’ Executive Director welcomes the partnership. “The type of support Vinnies is providing people going through the judicial review process is much needed. RACS’ lawyers are relieved to know that people who are facing their last chance at justice will be fed and housed when they are at their most vulnerable.”
Together, RACS and Vinnies will be a stronger voice for refugees.