State President's Message
Helping people without a home or on the verge of homelessness
In the middle of our Melbourne winter, we all become just a little more aware of the extreme hardship suffered by people who are homeless. Our recent Vinnies CEO Sleepout raised awareness of this issue, generated significant funds and gave participants an insight and taste of the everyday experience of far too many in our community.

We all have our pet solutions. Let me share with you the solutions put forward by my socially aware grandchildren.

  • Indie (grade 3 at the time), “Why don’t they just book into a motel?”

  • Archie (grade 5), “Why doesn’t everyone just take in one person?”

  • Fletcher (grade 1), “When I grow up, I am going to be a builder and build them houses for free.”

  • Eleanor (grade 6), “Some kids have no choice – they just have to leave home.”

Before you dismiss their ideas as naïve, just consider for a moment that these are actually some of the things we do.

For example:

  • Many of our member visits end up with a desperate person, usually a mum and her kids, being put up in a motel at our expense. This temporary solution gives time to work on finding something more permanent. During the height of COVID restrictions, many people who were homeless were moved into motels and hotels at government expense, in the interests of everyone’s safety.

  • Many generous people in the community, over the years, have actually taken people into their homes temporarily, and not just mates.

  • The Society and VincentCare Victoria participate in various ways in providing affordable public housing.

  • All of these things are done without judgement of the individual circumstances of those in need.

  • Many organisations raise funds to support social housing in its various forms. 

  • On 17 June hundreds of business and community leaders slept out (at home, due to our restrictions) to raise awareness and funds for supporting projects to address homelessness.

Do the kids’ ideas still sound fanciful? In their simple world, they don’t rush to identify all the reasons these ideas might not work! Next time, if you hear an apparently simplistic solution to what is an enormously complex problem, take on board the spirit of generosity underlying its message.

Ozanam House was established 66 years ago (in September 1955) to support men whose circumstances left them in need of food and a bed for the night. Today Ozanam House is still serving that need in the community and much more. Every night our soup vans go out to provide food and companionship to people on the streets and boarding houses.

Every week our members are out helping people still in a home, but struggling to keep up with their rent. Our view is that it is always more effective and better to keep someone in their home rather than trying to pick up the pieces later on if they are forced out.

This year, as the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria puts together its Strategic Plan for the next three years it recognises the need for the Society to be more actively involved in provision of stable housing, at affordable rents, for many people at risk of becoming homeless. We will hopefully be able to announce the first stage of that commitment in the coming weeks.

The Society is proud to be doing its bit in this area. Thank you to all who financially supported the CEO Sleepout or who led the way by sleeping out on a very cold night. I’d like to particularly thank everyone who supported me personally in the Sleepout.

Read more about the 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout