I am delighted to welcome you to the first edition of Societynews in my term as the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria's State President.
This edition focuses on the ever-present issue of homelessness and how our services help prevent vulnerable people in our community from becoming homeless and support others on their journey towards better lives. I am sure you will find it an informative and compelling read and be struck by the valuable work our members, volunteers and employees undertake.
Sadly, homelessness can happen to anyone at any time of their lives. The causes of homelessness are varied, but include unemployment, family violence or a life crisis such as job loss, mental health issues, professional burnout and relationship breakdown that lead to lack of affordable housing and ultimately nowhere to go.
Almost 25,000 Victorians were identified as ‘homeless’ in the 2016 census and what this means predominately is that they do not have a safe place to call home every night.
As an organisation we have various programs that support people who are or are at risk of becoming homeless, these include: emergency financial support, Soup Van service, No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), housing assistance, and crisis and refuge accommodation.
Our members and volunteers help people who are often living below the poverty line by providing financial assistance to pay rental arrears or advocacy to real estate agents and other agencies while VincentCare's crisis teams provide assistance and support to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and housing crisis.
The story of ‘Jazmin’* – one of the many people we have assisted over our 168 years and who you can read about in this issue – highlights how our members and volunteers help people settle into new housing by providing furniture and household necessities, social connections and local support that enables them to engage with their new community or get the additional help they need.
Vinnies CEO Sleepout is our annual flagship fundraising event held to support our homelessness services. Last month, hundreds of CEOs, business and community leaders slept out on a cold Melbourne night to gain a small insight into what people experiencing homelessness deal with every night. An overview of this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout is also here.
The effects of homelessness and poverty include an increased likelihood of poor health and education outcomes, mental and physical health repercussions such as depression, anxiety and malnutrition, family violence and substance abuse.
Earlier this year, the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, in conjunction with VincentCare, presented a response to the Victorian Government's Social and Affordable Housing Discussion Paper highlighting the impact of the pandemic on affordable housing. You can read it HERE.
I am looking forward to working with all of you in the future to ensure that the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria remains at the forefront in supporting and assisting our fellow Victorians in need.