Many countries in the world do not enjoy the peace and democracy of Australia. This can often lead to terrible conflict and warfare and persecution of minority groups in much of the world.
People may be forced from their homes and jobs, kidnapped and subjected to torture, or ostracised because of their race or religion. They may fear for their own and their children's lives. This forces many millions of people around the world to flee from their home countries. A small number of these people use their human right under the Refugee Convention to come to Australia and seek asylum here.
We are fortunate enough to be a wealthy country, with the ability to welcome many of the people who seek safety here, and in turn we benefit enormously from their skills, perspectives and experiences.
For more information read our Refugee Policy and the life stories of asylum seekers and refugees who have been assisted by Vinnies.
What Vinnies does
The St Vincent de Paul Society has a long history of helping migrants and refugees. We do this both by providing services to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and by advocating to government on their behalf. Our services include providing financial and information support to migrants and refugees, for example through home visitation, food and financial help, visits to detention centres and homework centres. There are also dedicated Vinnies migrant and refugee centres, committees and resettlement services in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, which coordinate activities, offer information services, and, in the case of SA, offer emergency relief, individual advocacy and limited legal advice.
Our advocacy is led by the National Office and the Vincentian Refugee Network.
Vincentian Refugee Network
For many years the Vincentian Refugee Network (VRN) has advocated on behalf of newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. In 2019-20, newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers were identified as a key social justice Priority Area by the National Council’s Social Justice Advisory Committee. This led to the VRN being re-established in February 2020.
The VRN is chaired by Tim McKenna who is President of the Caritas Christi Refugee Support Conference for Canberra Goulburn and involved in assisting refugees previously on Manus, who are now in Port Moresby and Australia.
The VRN comprises 13 members drawn from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT. Members bring extensive experience of asylum seeker and refugee issues to the VRN, with many working in policy, service delivery or both. The VRN has an ambitious work plan and its priorities for 2020 include raising the Society’s public profile in this important area of advocacy.
For more information, read the VRN’s terms of reference and you can contact the VRN here.
- Contact the VRN if you wish to raise issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees in your state.
- Sign on to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Time for a Home campaign
- Support our migrant and refugee services by donating funds, or supporting our shops.
- Volunteer your time by becoming an English tutor for students in special after school programs.
- Contact the main Vinnies office in your state or territory to find out more about how you can help out.
- Tell your story. Are you a refugee who has been helped by Vinnies? Are you a Vinnies volunteer on the ground helping those who need it the most? We would love to hear from you. Contact the National Council office.
Read our latest media releases
Releasing Refugees from Detention is a Start but More Needs to be Done
February 1, 2021
The Society’s National Council welcomes the Federal Government’s recent decision to release 58 refugees (previously medically transferred to Australia) held indefinitely in detention centres and hotels in Melbourne. However, more needs to be done for those who continue to be detained; and for these men who are now on bridging visas and require support.
Vinnies welcomes Senator Lambie’s proposed rejection of Asylum Seeker phone ban
October 6, 2020
The Society’s National Council has welcomed Senator Jacqui Lambie’s decision to block the Federal Government’s legislation which, if passed, has the power to ban mobile phones from immigration...
Stop the blanket ban on mobile phones
September 29, 2020
The Society’s National Council calls on the Senate not to pass the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 next week.
Seven years on - hundreds of asylum seekers caught in Australian purgatory - what is the plan?
July 17, 2020
Seven years ago Kevin Rudd ensured no people who arrived in Australia by boat would ever gain permanent settlement in Australia. Vinnies National President, Claire Victory today reiterated the Society’s call for the...
Vinnies joins calls for bipartisan anti-racism strategy
June 17, 2020
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s National Council President, Claire Victory, has supported calls for a bipartisan National Anti-Racism Strategy to address increasing incidents of racism in Australia.
Support Asylum Seekers and Refugees in face of COVID-19
April 3, 2020
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council President Claire Victory has called on the Federal Government to extend available payments and support to people seeking asylum, especially now in the face of the COVID-19.
Expand the sections below for more media releases and submissions in previous years.
For more information on the issues read the Factsheets and policy briefings page and the Refugee and Migrant Submissions pages.
Vinnies National President seeks meeting with Home Affairs Minister
December 18, 2019
The National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society has written to the Home Affairs Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton, calling for a more civil approach to asylum seekers and refugees.
December 4, 2019
The National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society said the Federal Parliament’s decision today to repeal the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 is very disappointing.
November 8, 2019
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council is disappointed by the Senate Committee’s recommendation to pass the Migration Amendment
Medevac legislation repeal would be a new low
October 22, 2019
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council President, Claire Victory has urged Senators to vote against the repeal of the Medevac legislation.
- St Vincent de Paul Society calls for urgent action to avert further injury and loss of life on Manus Island, November 2017
- Rohingya crisis: St Vincent de Paul Society urges Australia to increase intake of refugees, September 2017
- Updated briefing note: Deadline for asylum seeker applications, September 2017
- Briefing note: #LetThemStay campaign calls for compassion, September 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society calls for compassion for asylum seekers, August 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society applauds parliamentary motion to resettle refugees from Manus and Nauru, August 2017
- “Four years too many”: the cruelty and suffering of offshore detention must end, July 2017
- $70 million no compensation for death and despair at Manus, the St Vincent de Paul Society says, June 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society calls for 1 October deadline for asylum seeker applications to be revoked, May 2017
- Briefing note: New deadline for asylum seekers, May 2017
- Manus Island: St Vincent de Paul Society says asylum seekers must be brought to Australia now, May 2017
- Violence and forced deportations threaten the safety of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island, April 2017
- Briefing note: Government targets asylum seekers with threatening letters and sanctions, April 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society slams threatening letters that are pushing vulnerable asylum seekers over the edge, April 2017
- Open statement calling for immediate action on offshore detention, February 2017
- St Vincent de Paul Society condemns proposed new immigration laws, November 2016
- Vinnies calls for an end to the cruelty towards asylum seekers, October 2016
- Detention no place for children, September 2016
- St Vincent de Paul Society calls for a humane response to asylum seekers ahead of New York talks, September 2016
- Detainees at Manus Island and Nauru should be brought to Australia now, August 2016
- World Refugee Day. We can do better for people seeking our protection, June 2016
- Bring Manus Island detainees to Australia, April 2016
- Overwhelming whole-of-community support to let asylum seekers stay, February 2016
- Australia's international aid and community sector backs church sanctuary offer for asylum seekers, February 2016 (joint statement)
- Vinnies NSW's work with asylum seekers and refugees
The St Vincent de Paul Society has a long history of helping refugees and people seeking asylum. Catholic social teaching places a special onus on our organisation to help those who seek protection from persecution, having fled war, injustice or intolerance.
The Society offers a ‘hand up’ to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community. This includes supporting people who may have experienced an array of difficult challenges when seeking protection in Australia, including torture or trauma, being separated from family members and living through the detention system.
Today more than ever, it is vital that we stand with our vulnerable brothers and sisters who need protection.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO:
1. DONATE TO VINNIES NSW's PROTECTION APPEAL so that we can provide vital financial support and accommodation to people seeking protection who are at risk of becoming homeless. Donate here .
2. SHOW THAT YOU STAND WITH PEOPLE SEEKING PROTECTION by displaying our stickers and posters and speaking to people in your local community. Download our A3 posters here or contact email@example.com to order your stickers and posters.’
3. WRITE TO YOUR FEDERAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (MP) to ask the Federal Government to show compassion and uphold the human rights of those who seek protection. The St Vincent de Paul Society has recently spoken out about the cruel cuts to income support leaving people seeking asylum in our community destitute (read more here). For more information and/or a template letter please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS VINNIES NSW DOING FOR THOSE SEEKING PROTECTION?
The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has committed to providing financial assistance, accommodation support and case management to those seeking protection who are at risk of homelessness due to recent cuts to their income and accommodation through the new ‘final departure Bridging E Visa’.
Donate to our People Seeking Asylum NSW Appeal now . Your generous donation will support people with no place left to turn.Find out more about our support for asylum seekers and the Let Them Stay campaign:
The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has a number of support services for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants including:
Asylum Seeker Program
The ASP works with people seeking asylum that are living in the community in New South Wales (NSW) and experiencing financial hardship. The program supports vulnerable individuals and families, who may be at risk of homelessness as they have no income and have minimal support options available to them.
The ASP provides financial assistance, case management and wrap around support. The program focuses on supporting those who are at the end of the Refugee Status Determination process. It provides the assistance that is necessary for people seeking asylum to maintain their dignity and autonomy while they wait for their refugee status to be resolved.
Whilst Vinnies runs the ASP program specifically in NSW there are similar refugee support programs running in other states. See our Find Help section or contact Vinnies in your state or territory to find out how they can help you.
It starts with a SPARK
SPARK is an holistic family based program of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW’s Support Services. SPARK supports newly arrived families of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker background in their settlement in South West Sydney. SPARK work in partnership with schools, other community services, and with local community members as volunteers to deliver programs.
SPARK inspires inclusive communities by creating opportunities for newly arrived and settled families to meet and build meaningful connections. The key aim is that families and children from a refugee, asylum seeker and migrant background settle well. They are able to fully participate in the community’s social, educational and economic life, and so are less vulnerable to exclusion and discrimination, social and health issues, and poverty and disadvantage.
SPARK’s work includes:
- Providing children with educational, aspiration building and recreational programs
- Providing parent programs, workshops and events that offer opportunities to build educational and language skills, increase social connection and provide support and referrals
- Building the capacity of the community to support the settlement of newly arrived families. We do this by partnering with and offering training to local schools, community organisations and bilingual workers.
To watch a video about SPARK, click on the photograph
Anushri volunteers to help other newly arrived refugees
In the Community SPARKs program, new families and volunteers come together to establish networks and friendships within the school community. Bilingual workers assist parents to improve their English; understand the Australian school system; address settlement issues; and learn skills to negotiate living in a new country.
Anushri first came to a Community SPARKs session wanting to meet other parents at her child’s school and to practice her English. Meeting every week, the group discussed life in their new home; their hopes and aspirations for a better future for their children.
During this time, Anushri continued to search for work, with little success. Since arriving in Australia, she had completed a Diploma of Community Services and was keen to find a job in which she could give back to the community. SPARK worked with Anushri on resume-writing and job-seeking skills, and then suggested she join SPARK as a volunteer.
After completing her SPARK training, Anushri headed up a Parents Group herself. After some months in the volunteer role she secured employment in a community services organisation. Anushri credits her time with SPARK as the main reason behind her new found confidence that set her on the road to a brighter future.
Tell your story
Are you a refugee who has been helped by Vinnies? Are you a Vinnies volunteer on the ground helping those who need it the most? We would love to hear from you. Contact us at the National Council office .
Read more about Vinnies work with asylum seekers and refugees
We help by providing services to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, and by advocating to government on their behalf. Our services include providing financial and information support to migrants and refugees, for example through home visitation, food and financial help, visits to detention centres, and homework centres.
Vinnies also has dedicated migrant and refugee centres and committees in some states in Australia, which coordinate activities but regardless of where you are in Australia, Vinnies offers assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. Contact your state or territory office .
To find out more about our advocacy work read the Vinnies Refugee Policy To see how you can help click on the Get Involved or Do Something About It sections of this website.
- Vinnies NSW takes action
We have a long and proud history of giving a hand-up and speaking up for refugees and people seeking protection.Today more than ever, it is vital that we stand with our vulnerable brothers and sisters who need protection.
Four things you can do:1. Donate to Vinnies NSW's Protection Appeal so that we can provide vital financial support and accommodation to people in NSW who are seeking protection and at risk of becoming homeless. Donate here.2. Show that you stand with people seeking protection by displaying our stickers and posters. Contact email@example.com to order your stickers and posters.3. Write to your Federal Member of Parliament to ask the Government to immediately bring people held on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia and grant permanent protection to those found to be refugees. Download our template letter or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.4. Attend our Rosalie Rendu Forum on Thursday 19 October 6pm – People seeking asylum in our community: A human rights perspective with keynote speaker Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs, Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Register your attendance here.Find out more: