The St Vincent de Paul Society, well known as Vinnies, is not for profit organisation dedicated to assisting those affected by poverty and inequality. In striving to achieve our purpose, we employ the ambitions and actions of our patron Saint Frederic Ozanam a humble student in France with a mind set for social justice. Frederic Ozanam established the St Vincent de Paul Society in 1833 as a vehicle to alleviate the suffering of the poor in the community.
The Society was established by like-minded individuals who wished to put their faith into action and this has come to expand across the globe. The compassionate outlook, enthusiasm and vision of those embracing the Vincentian spirit continues today across Australia, and throughout Tasmania. There are hundreds of people who every day share their time, care for humanity and energy to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people all around the State.
The St Vincent de Paul Society commenced in Tasmania in 1899 when a Conference was established in Launceston. Six years later, the next Conference was founded in Hobart. The Society has grown to the extent that there are now 28 Conferences within three Regional Councils in Tasmania. The Conferences undertake a variety of good works, although the most common activity continues to be the traditional Vincentian one of visiting people in need in their homes and providing emergency relief assistance.
For many years, Tasmania has encouraged and supported the youth membership of the Society. Currently, the Society employs three Youth Co-ordinators to organise and facilitate services, which include recreational and social activities for disadvantaged children and teenagers, visitation of the elderly in their homes and in nursing homes, visiting patients in hospitals, and raising funds for local and overseas projects. The dining with friends program is another initiative designed to bring members of the community together who might be missing the joys of a regular social connection. Volunteers and members come together to cook a free meal for the community which all are then welcome to enjoy in a comfortable social environment.
Vinnies in Tasmania also supports several Special Works across the state, including Marillac House in Launceston, which provides accommodation for people travelling to Launceston for medical reasons, Loui’s Vans and Vinnies Vans, a mobile service that provides soup, sandwiches and companionship, five days a week to homeless and disadvantaged people living on the streets in major metropolitan centres and regional townships across Tasmania.
The St Vincent de Paul Society Tasmania is part of the wider St Vincent de Paul Society organisation across Australia. With Conferences in every State and Territory, the first Australian conference was founded in Victoria by Fr Gerald Ward at St Francis’ Church, Melbourne on March 5, 1854; just 21 years after the founding of the very first Conference in Paris, France.
In assisting people who are denied equality and dignity we make a prophetic statement about the dignity and equality of all people in the sight of God. In asking the simple question about the causes of injustice, Vincentians issue a prophetic call to all people of good will to work collectively and creatively to build equality and justice into our society. Working through our national and state councils, the Society gives a voice to those who are voiceless; standing with them and advocating on their behalf.
As Vincentians we do not close our eyes to the growing division in Australia and the world between the increasingly prosperous and the increasingly poor. The accumulation of wealth on the one hand is connected with the accumulation of poverty on the other, characterised by oppression on the basis of class, race, gender, age, disability, and mental and physical illness; forced migration, homelessness, unemployment, insecure and poorly paid work; and declining levels of social security and public infrastructure.
We seek to share both bread and hope with our brothers and sisters, recognising Christ in their painful stories and bearing witness to the Good News of justice and compassion. The disenfranchised and those in need entrust a little of their lives to us in the hope that we will assist them. We honour this trust by speaking the truth about their stories and by calling on the people of our nation to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality. For more information, please read our National Social Justice and Advocacy Committee Policy Statement.