Page 1

Newsletter of the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland | Spring 2009

The unseen disaster 1 A second chance


Fire and floods


FBOT update


Giving children a chance


homeless connect


in pictures


Thank you


services overview


The unseen disaster of financial despair It could happen to anyone


ill’s wife Amanda* had to quit her job due to illness. Bill had been working for years in a small, family business, however with the downturn in the economy, is now out of a job. Bill and Amanda have six children aged between two and fourteen. They pay $800 rent per fortnight. They now have no income.

You won’t hear Bill’s story on the six o’clock news bulletin with the other stories of disaster and crisis. However, 400,000 Queenslanders like Bill, or one in ten, live in poverty, and are fighting this unseen disaster of financial despair every day. Pushing people over the edge – the facts In recent years, a single adult earning less than $249 a week lives below the ‘poverty line’. In the rental market, the typical rent on a onebedroom flat in Brisbane has doubled in the past seven years – from $135 to $270, while the average price of food has risen by 15%. Electricity prices in Queensland had already risen over by over 17% since July 2000, and rose 15.7% again in July. Queensland has just lost our fuel excise subsidy – while a blip on the radar for some, for those struggling, it will all add up. Where we are heading Total unemployment in Queensland is forecast to reach 170,000 by June 2010 – with 25,000 young people to add onto that number.

“One in ten Queenslanders live in poverty, and are fighting the unseen disaster of financial despair every day”

Sadly, community service providers across Australia assisted 537,641 in the last financial year, which was an increase of 19%. (continues page 2...) ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY QUEENSLAND


The unseen disaster of financial despair (continued from page 1) And that was when times were better. “Queenslanders face a time when the cost of living is the highest it has ever been,” State President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland John Campbell said. “It is only charities like Vinnies that are seeing the true, hidden faces of this next disaster.”

Dear friends Welcome to the second edition of the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland’s Making a difference. In this edition, we provide a snapshot of the Society’s good works, sharing a story from our home visitations, our disaster recovery actions, and let some of those we have helped tell their stories. Peace,

Last year, the Society touched the lives of over 380,000, and indicators are that this year will see that number jump up again. “In a state as wealthy and prosperous as Queensland, no one should be homeless,” Campbell said. “Yet, figures show that Queensland has nearly 6,000 homeless children under the age of five.” “In the coming days and months, as more and more people lose their jobs, find themselves with no way to feed their hungry children, or pay for their rent, even more people will be turning to the St Vincent de Paul Society to help with the necessities in life,” Campbell said. After the disasters are no longer on the television, Vinnies will be there, responding to the unseen disaster of families in financial crisis. Statistics from the Queensland and Australian Council of Social Services.

John Campbell State President St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland

Please forward correspondence to: Editor Making a difference St Vincent de Paul Society Qld PO Box 3351 South Brisbane QLD 4101 T: 07 3010 1000 F: 07 3010 1099 E:

Did you know?

For more information, please visit

Poverty means having an acceptable standard of living – access to food, shelter and the basic necessities of life. 9.9% of Australians, including 365,000 children, live in poverty.

To donate call 13 18 12 or visit

The majority of people who are homeless say loneliness is the hardest thing to deal with.

* Names changed throughout to protect identities

1.1 million Australians in housing stress are at risk of becoming homeless. The number of older Australians in housing stress has doubled over the past four years.


We give a second chance


n the third knock of the door, it opened before us slowly. Ray*, 48, looked out at the unknown faces, unsure.

“Hi Ray, we’re from Vinnies.” At the familiarity and the safety of the word Vinnies, Ray permitted himself a small smile, and hastily encouraged us to come inside. In the small bedsit of Ray’s 79-year-old mother’s house, we made ourselves comfortable on the large brown couch after handing him a standard Vinnies food parcel laden with frozen bread, sausages, tinned goods, long-life milk. It was all he had asked for: all the bare basics of life taken for granted by many.

Simon* began the conversation, “So Ray, you called Vinnies for help. You said you needed food. What else can we do?” Folding his hands in his lap, Ray eagerly told us his story. Released from jail less than a week ago, Ray had returned to his childhood home on the “good grace” of his mentally deteriorated mother.

Signing off the clothing request form, Simon re‑emphasised with Ray that if he ever wanted anything else, all he had to do was call. “Right, well that’s sorted. What are your plans?” “I need to get a job. My mum’s sick, I can’t be a burden on her. “But you know, even if I had a job interview, how would I get there? I can’t pay for a bus trip to the shops.”

Genuinely concerned with changing his life for the better, but with no way to do so, he called Vinnies for help.

Simon solved that problem by organising for the next team to visit to bring along a new ‘Go Card’, an electronic ticket for public transport.

“I’ve done my time, and I’ve learnt my lessons,” he said solemnly. “But I have nothing. Not a cent to my name.”

With no way to pay to renew the licence necessary for Ray to get back into his previous employment, Simon said he would see what his conference could do.

His eyes dropped to the floor. “I don’t want to go back there.” Here was a man sitting before us who had made the wrong choices in life. He sat there, as one of us, as someone’s son, someone’s brother, asking us to help him with the second chance in life he truly wanted. “Well,” Simon said, showing Ray a list of clothes his local Vinnies shop could provide, “we can start with clothes. What do you need?” Ray looked at the list and timidly said a couple of shirts would be great. After a bit of coaxing from Simon, he agreed that some socks and jocks would probably be useful. “It’s cold at night,” Simon said, “What about pyjamas?” “No. No, that’s heaps.”

Making a dif

“You need this to be able to work. I’m going to do all I can to get this paid for you.” “Is there anything else you need Ray?” Simon asked. Shaking our hands warmly, Ray thanked us. “No, that’s more than enough. Thank you. Thank you so much.” This is just one story of the thousands of lives across Queensland that members of the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland touch through their core work of home visitations. The small help Vinnies was able to provide made all the difference in Ray’s life. Ray was able to find a job and move into a small unit of his own. He wanted to repay the local conference for their payment of his registration. And he did.

u – 13 18 12 ference –



Together we can make a difference In 2009, Australia was ravaged by nature’s fury – from the destructive fires of Victoria’s Black Saturday to the devastation of the floods in North Queensland. While time has slowly passed since the initial shock of the Victorian bush fires and North Queensland floods, the St Vincent de Paul Society continues to provide practical assistance, material and financial aid, counselling, emotional support and referral services to those affected by these tragedies. North Queensland floods Two-thirds of Queensland was declared a disaster zone in the aftermath of February’s torrential rain in north Queensland. Hundreds of townships were cut off from the outside world, with no electricity, no phone lines. In Ingham alone, 12,000 people were left devastated. Ingham Conference provided grocery cards to the Recovery Centre for distribution to people in need. Ongoing support has been provided to flood affected victims with the provision of furniture items, white goods, clothing and other accessories.

Below: Hastings Deering’s Managing Director Scott Cameron and Group HR manager Andrew Brocker presents a cheque for the North Queensland Flood Appeal


Floodwaters rise in Ingham

Valued volunteers lending a hand at the Victorian Disaster Appeal warehouse

Victorian bushfires A warehouse in Rowville, Victoria, became the focus of the response, as 2,700 volunteers stepped up to collect, sort and dispatch truckloads of material donations from around Australia. Bushfire survivors also visited Vinnies Centres for items they required, which were – and still are – being freely provided to them. The Society liaised with Victorian Vinnies Centres, including 45 located in fire-affected regions, as well as over 300 conferences, to determine current requirements and to manage material aid.

Did you know? The Society in Queensland raised more than $300,000 for both the North Queensland flood appeal and the Victorian bushfires. The Vinnies Victoria warehouse is as big as the MCG – and it was overflowing with generous gifts-in-kind!

St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland President John Campbell said that while so much assistance has already been given, the Society is, as always, there for the long haul. “We are extremely grateful to all those who have made donations, or donations of time,” Mr Campbell said. “The effects of these disasters will be evident for years to come, and we are committed to helping the affected communities rebuild their lives for as long as it takes.” Making a dif

u – 13 18 12 ference –

Photos courtesy of Casamento Photography and The Sunday Mail.



Innovative solutions to crisis


he St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland’s landmark housing project Families Back on Track (FBOT) is steadily nearing completion, with the opening of the facility expected in the first half of 2010. Project champion and founding president of the Mudgeeraba conference, John Millsom, said the 26 unit facility to house single parents with children was “coming along as planned.” “It’s uplifting seeing how far we’ve come,” Millsom said.

Early March 2009

Why FBOT is so important  lmost 200 families applied for A emergency accommodation at just one facility in the past three months  ueensland has recorded a 46% Q spike in accompanied children accessing support services  6.8% increase in families with 1 children experiencing homelessness


The ‘outside shells’ are nearing completion – 6th July 2009

Giving children a chance


he St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland’s Children’s Education Fund provides children from disadvantaged Queensland families with the financial support to ensure they reach their full potential through education. Chairperson of the committee, Kathleen Ferrero, said almost 1300 children received a quarter of a million dollars in assistance in the past financial year. “With the rising cost of living, many struggling families are facing heartbreaking decisions,” Kathleen said. “The number of applications this year has been the biggest number ever.”

Jonkers Motors donates a new car to the Northern Central Council’s Give a Child a Chance project. Pictured: Ray Jonkers, of Martin Jonkers Motors, and fund champions Theresa Blatchly and Patricia Marks

“We hope this education fund means that no in Queensland child will miss out on a full education, which means they can break the cycle of disadvantage and poverty.” For more information about the fund, please contact State Administration on 07 3010 1000.

FAQs If I donate money, does it actually go to people in need? When you donate to a specific special work, we ensure that it goes directly to where you want it to go. We have some of the lowest administration costs of any other Australian charity because of our volunteer base.

Become a Member of a Conference (local branch) Volunteer Make a financial donation Make a gift-in-kind Make a bequest

Can anyone be a volunteer or Member?

For more information please contact the state office on

The Society welcomes volunteers and Members from all walks of life.

07 3010 1000

Making a dif

or email:

u – 13 18 12 ference –



Glenda Winter, Julie Schmidt, Louise Parker and Casey Parker helping out at Homeless Connect

Vinnies connects with homeless More than one thousand of Brisbane’s homeless were supported with necessities worth $110,000 from St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland at Homeless Connect at Brisbane City Hall in May. How you can make a difference Equating to two shipping containers and 20 wheelie for future generations… bins worth, Vinnies’ Homeless Connect coordinator and Western Central Council area manager Cassandra Ashton said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who gratefully accepted the free clothes, blankets and pillows from the Vinnies donation room. “The estimates of the number of people expected to attend this Homeless Connect turned out to be quite conservative,” Ashton said. “People were queuing for hours, and we actually ran out of men’s clothing very early on in the piece.” “This is the first year the Society has been involved, and it was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of those we assisted throughout the day, whether it was through providing clothing, or any of the plethora of services on offer. “The next step is to ensure we continue to work tirelessly towards breaking the cycle of homelessness. “Above all, people need a place to call home.”


Did you know that well over half of Australia’s adult population, either do not have a Will, or have a Will that is seriously out of date? Did you know that you can help make the world a better place for future generations, simply by including a bequest (whether large or small) to the Society in a Will? Did you know that recent research throughout Australia by Queensland University of Technology has revealed that people who have already made a bequest to charity in their Will, say how easy it is to help shape the future in this way? Have you made a Will yet? Does it need updating? For more information about making your Will, or how simple it is to include a bequest to the Society, just call the Donor Relations Co-ordinator on (07) 3010 1072.

In pictures…


nnouncement of almost half a million dollars in funding for the ClareHaven project, a joint initiative of the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland, St Anthony’s Catholic Parish Alexandra Hills, and the Department of Communities, which will provide supported accommodation of young people living with a disability.

Below: Local Minister Michael Choi, Patricia, Stephen and Colin Rooney, State President of St Vincent de Paul John Campbell, Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs Annastacia Palasczuk, and Parish Priest Father Peter McCarthy

Open for business Two new Vinnies shops opened at Cannon Hill (top) and Stafford (bottom)

Act of Kindness week, a partnership between the Catholic Education Commission and the Society to encourage schools to get involved with the Winter Appeal, was launched during May at Mary Immaculate Primary School, Annerley. Pictured: Students from Mary Immaculate and Our Lady’s, Catholic Education Commission CEO Mike Byrne, and State President John Campbell Making a dif

u – 13 18 12 ference –



Thank you The St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland’s Child and Family Program has touched the lives of over 500 children in the past twelve months through providing support to their parents with the Family Intervention Service. Here are some of their reflections of how the Society assisted them…

St Vincent de Paul was able to support me and the children in obtaining school uniforms, wardrobes, linen and child safety…

They also helped me develop skills in maintaining a clean and tidy home, providing healthy food, behaviour management, use of praise and consistent routines for the children.

To find out more about the Child and Family Program, contact Ray Snell, program manager 3807 6623 or email

… The whole experience also left me feeling more empowered and more in control of my situation… We looked forward to our visits and always made a list of questions we had. Sharon* was our rock and we always felt that anytime we needed help we knew there was someone to pick us up…”

I have been able to make several changes since being involved with St Vincent de Paul. This included, most importantly, getting my baby back… St Vincent de Paul also helped me improve my skills on budgeting and implement and maintain routines… They also supported me in finding suitable accommodation…” “(She)…is the most wonderful woman and St Vincent de Paul is absolutely blessed to have her. She always arrived with a smile and a cheer… she was good to me but also to my baby. I had some important things to talk to (her) about and I found her to be pleasant but factual. I thank you sincerely for giving me (her) if but just for three months because in that time she changed my life!”


Everything has changed since being involved with St Vincent de Paul. The biggest change is that the children are living permanently back at home.” “Working with St Vincent de Paul was brilliant. Throughout the process, (she) became part of the family and the kids absolutely loved her. Overall we found the experience to be very positive.” “… I found working with St Vincent de Paul both awesome and excellent. They were nothing but helpful, and if it wasn’t for them and the positive feedback they passed on to the Department of Child Safety it would have taken longer to get Rebecca back in my care.”

Services overview The St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland provides community services for those who need care and assistance, and lives out its mission of providing a hand up, not just a hand out, to those in our communities who are less fortunate. Community services

Find out more: visit or call 3010 1000

 Visitation work is conducted by our Society members through over 200 local conferences throughout the state.  Our Child and Family Program is committed to promoting safety and quality of life to children, and provides a therapeutic and educational environment for children and their families.  Our food distribution and low cost food outlets for people in need provide access to affordable food.

Aged or disabled persons support  The Home Modification Program provides an array of in-house modifications to the homes of frail, aged or disabled individuals to allow them to continue living independently.

Recovery services

 Our disability services program provides supported accommodation for people with a disability to live in assisted independent living.

 Our drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre provides medium term accommodation for men recovering from addictions, while the Society helps them find long term accommodation, training and counselling.

Emergency and transitional accommodation

Overseas partnership and development

 Short and medium term accommodation is provided in partnership with community, government and other agencies to respond to the needs of people who are homeless or in housing crisis.

 ‘Twinning’ connects local conferences with a conference in another country from the Asia Pacific region.

Migrant and refugee support

 Papua New Guinea and Kiribati projects.

 Assistance with family reunification through an airfare no interest loan program.

Youth and education support

 Case management for families and individuals encouraging empowerment and facilitating self-reliance with our settlement services program.  Providing financial assistance to refugees for use in short term, educational courses.  Our volunteer tutoring program, VoRTCS, provides in home English language support to refugee families throughout south-east Queensland. Making a dif

 The ‘Assist a Student’ and Pakistan Literacy project supports education.

 Mini Vinnies, Teen Vinnies and Young Adult conferences raise social justice awareness.  Buddies Days provides positive role models for disadvantaged youths.  Our Children’s Education fund provides financial support to give young people access to education.  The Tiwi Islands project provides scholarships for indigenous youth to study at Downlands Toowoomba.

u – 13 18 12 ference –


| 11

Yes! I would like to make a special donation to the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland Mr




First Name

(please print)

Surname Address

Phone Email I will make a single gift of:

$50 $500






Donations over $2 are tax deductible. I will make a gift every month of $ (minimum of $10). Please debit my credit card every month until I advise otherwise. Please debit my credit card: Visa




Name on Card Signature



My cheque is enclosed, crossed ‘Not Negotiable’ and made payable to St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland. To make an on-line donation visit

Something practical you can do today to help change their story Please send to: St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland PO Box 3351 South Brisbane Qld 4101

Please send me: information about the St Vincent de Paul Society information to help me consider including the Society in my Will I have already included the Society in my Will Thank you for your donation. 12 | ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY QUEENSLAND

You can make a difference today.