Welcome to the regular update from the National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia. Please distribute widely and encourage other people to subscribe.
From the National President
The National Council met in Canberra over the weekend of 25-27 February 2022, the first such meeting in person since May last year. It was a great pleasure to welcome several new State Council Presidents – Paul Burton (NSW), Patricia McMahon (Queensland) and Michael Quinn (Victoria) – along with Wina Zu from the Spirit of Youth Standing Committee.
National President Claire Victory with Deputy President Warwick Fulton (rear), and incoming State Council Presidents Patricia McMahon (Qld), Michael Quinn (Vic) and Paul Burton (NSW).
It also provided a good opportunity to meet with the State and Territory CEOs who play an important role in ensuring the Society works together to serve those in need across Australia.
An important part of our deliberations was receiving updates from key staff, including Cassandra Bull regarding the Membership Research Project. National Council agreed to actions around data collection, flexible conference models and better inclusion of and communication with Vincentians not currently active in a conference or special work.
We also welcomed International Territorial Vice President for Oceania, Frank Brassil, who provided an interesting and useful insight into the structure and workings of the Society internationally and in the region.
Our Overseas Development Program Facilitator, Tricia Wilden, updated us on overseas support through Twinning and projects. National Council affirmed its commitment to increasing and improving our relationships with and support for our Vincentian colleagues in the Oceania region.
National Council is committed to providing input to government and candidates and making public comment on core issues in this election year.
National Council meeting on 26 March in Canberra.
We were pleased to receive an update on the Society’s Federal Election Strategy and are excited about engaging with members and equipping them with the information, resources and support to understand our advocacy positions and assist with sharing our messages in the coming weeks.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the flood-stricken communities of the east coast - Brisbane and Southeast Queensland, and northern NSW. Thousands of residents, including Society members, have been impacted by this unprecedented weather event, and the recovery process is likely to be long and costly, in both financial and emotional terms.
St Vincent de Paul Society in NSW and Queensland have launched emergency flood appeals to assist residents with their immediate needs as well as longer-term recovery.
Before: Magellan Street in Lismore's CBD, showing Vinnies shop and above it the SVDP Lismore Central Council offices. Photo: Google Maps
After: Flooding submerged the Vinnies shop and rose to the first-floor offices for the first time ever. Photo: Courtesy of Danika Hardiman /AFP/Getty Images
The situation in Ukraine is also uppermost in our minds. The Vincentian Family has called on all parties to pursue peace and stands firm in our commitment to fully support the people in Ukraine.
We ask that members keep the people of Ukraine in their prayers. The members of the St John Mary Vianey adult conference and St Christopher youth conference in Kharkiv and the St Martha Vetskaya youth conference in Kyiv are a special focus.
For more details, including the appeal from Pope Francis and the full statement by the Vincentian Family, please go to the International Confederation website.
SA Election Position Statement
St Vincent de Paul Society SA has released a detailed set of election principles in advance of the state's poll on Sat. 19 March 2022.
The five key topics are:
- Housing insecurity
- Education for children and young people
- Support to asylum seekers
- Concessions equity
- Food insecurity.
Social policy advocacy
Formal employment is vital for social justice
"Secure work is vital for the health and wellbeing of all Australians, enabling them to access proper housing, buy food and clothing, pursue education and training and all the life opportunities that a democratic society should offer."
The National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society has endorsed the theme of the 2022 UN World Day of Social Justice, “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment”, saying it accords with one of the key policies developed by the Society for the forthcoming Federal Election.
Call to lift Afghan refugee intake
In mid-Feb the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) met with the Immigration Minister and reiterated its call for at least 20,000 additional places for Afghans fleeing their country's turmoil.
Delegates at the Parliament House meetings included Dr Tim McKenna (rear, centre), Chair of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Refugee Network.
RATs should be made freely available
The National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society has called on the Federal Government to make rapid antigen tests (RATs) freely available to all people living in Australia, especially to social services and the people they assist.
The National Council is participating in the following campaigns:
- ACOSS Community Sector Climate Declaration
- Refugee Council of Australia - Afghanistan
- Hands Off Our Charities
- Change the Record
- Healthy Home for Renters
- Our Democracy
- Raise the Rate
- Everybody's Home - inclusion of housing on the agenda for the National Women's Safety Summit.
- CPSU campaign to build a better Services Australia
- ACOSS campaign 'A Guarantee to a Nation' to Reset the Budget and strengthen public revenue to pay for this in a fair and sustainable way