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 migrate out of 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.
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 and committees in some states, which coordinate these activities and also offer information services.
Our advocacy is led by the National Office, and the Vincentian Refugee Network. Advocacy includes spreading the true stories of migrants and refugees, writing submissions to various bodies, media work, and some events. Our main areas of concern are the negative outcomes of detention centres, which we absolutely oppose, and inadequate financial support for refugees and asylum seekers living in the community. For more information read our Refugee Policy and our latest media releases. You may also wish to read the life stories of asylum seekers and refugees who have been assisted by Vinnies.
In this video the Society’s National Council CEO Dr John Falzon addresses a large contingent of asylum seeker and refugee rights supporters at a Palm Sunday rally in Canberra on 9 April, 2017. He told the group it was time to resist the politics of cruelty that kept people locked up at detention centres, and replace it with the politics of love.
Other rallies like it took place across major capital cities and in some regional towns on the same day.
Media releases, statements and other news
Throughout 2016, the Society's National Council office regularly called on the federal government to end the detention of asylum seekers and refugees at Nauru and on Manus Island, and bring them to Australia.
The following media releases and statements were issued.
- 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 welcomed the Australia Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) report, The Forgotten Children, which was made public in February 2015 following the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. We support the Commission's recommendations that all children and families in detention in Australia and Nauru be released into the community immediately; for all Christmas Island detention facilities to be closed; and for a Royal Commission to examine the long term impacts on the physical and mental health of children immigration detention.
What can you do?
- 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.
- Submission to Refugee Council on annual intake November 2015
- Submission to Refugee Council on annual intake 2014 November 21 2014
- Submission to the Inquiry into Children in Detention June 10 2014
- Submission to the Inquiry into the Migration Amendment January 24 2014
- Submission to the Refugee Council on annual intake November 20 2013
- Submission on Australia's Humanitarian Program: 2013-14 January 25 2013
- Submission on Migration (Regional Processing) legislation December 17 2012
- Submission on Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals Bill December 7 2012
- Discussion paper on Community Refugee Sponsorship Program July 31 2012
- Submission to the Australian Refugee Rights Alliance April 1 2012
- Submission to DIAC: Australia’s Humanitarian Program 2012-13 January 10 2012