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Vision A publication of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW SUMMER/AUTUMN 2009

Issue no. 64 Circulation 18,000


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Editor,

Vision n A pu blic atio

W ul So cie ty NS 8 ce nt de Pa 200 of the St Vin SUMMER/AUTUMN

Late last year, my husband Peter and I went into the city on a family outing, and took Christopher, aged 6 and his sister Jacqueline on the Monorail. The kids were looking at all the streets, buildings and people. Christopher went very quiet. He then told us that he had seen a homeless man down on the street below. He said that “he had no shoes and only four coins on his piece of cardboard”. He was very concerned. That night, Christopher found it hard to sleep. We talked about the homeless man and discussed ways in which he could help him, and others. The next day, Christopher went to his school, Our Lady Of The Rosary, Kellyville, and organised a lolly guessing competition to raise money for the St Vincent de Paul Society. With the help of his class teachers, the school captains and the Vega 95.3 Breakfast Show, he raised $173.20.

Vision is produced by the Community and Corporate Relations department, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, and is distributed free of charge througout the Society to Catholic parishes, and schools and relevant entities in New South Wales.

Christopher still worries when he sees homeless people and is now planning his next fundraiser. Kind regards, Lesley Watters

Editor: Rachel Anne Irvine Supervising Editor: Julie McDonald Writers: Andy Marks, Cassie Douglas, Dane Hiser, Kate Scholl, Marion Frith, Jessica Moss-Wellington, Bill Johnston, George Owen, Rachel Anne Irvine, Tricia Meers. Layout and Design: Rachel Anne Irvine Distribution: Ozanam Industries, a Special Work of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW All correspondence and contributions can be sent to: Publications Officer Community and Corporate Relations St Vincent de Paul Society PO Box 5, Petersham NSW 2049 Email: rachel.irvine@vinnies.org.au Phone: (02) 9568 0287 The current St Vincent de Paul Society (NSW) State Council Members are: President: Barbara Ryan, Vice Presidents: Peter Sharp, Michael Callaghan, Beverley Kerr, Lisa Bright, Alicia Webster, Diocesan Presidents: Don Hewitt, Gillian Ferguson, John Donnelly, Kevin Walsh, Gwen Sampson, Terry Walsh, Pauline Black, Leo Sheehan, Cynthia Fenemore. Disclaimer: The views expressed in Vision are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Responsibility for the content of this publication is taken by Julie McDonald, CCR Manager. © St Vincent de Paul Society NSW 2008 ABN: 46 472 591 335 We’d love to hear what the Society is doing in your area. Send us a letter or email, or call with an idea for a story or newsclip: rachel.irvine@vinnies.org.au or (02) 9568 0287.

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St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Dear Editor, Each year St Anthony’s Conference, Kingscliff along with other Conferences in the Tweed-Byron Region of St Vincent de Paul Society distribute Christmas hampers to families in need. In order to supply these hampers St Anthony’s runs an adopt-a-family program within the parish. With the support of the Parish Priest, Father Jim Griffin, donations of money, food and toys are collected from parishioners, St Anthony’s School, St James’ School, St Joseph’s College and Duranbah Public School. Centrelink at Tweeds Heads also became involved this year. The total amount of money raised was $6,000 and the value of the food and toys was approximately $3,000. This very generous contribution enabled St Anthony’s Conference to distribute seventyfive substantial hampers to families in need within the parish. To thank the parish for their generous support throughout the year, the Winter Appeal realised $3,100, St Anthony’s Conference organises a morning tea. This year it will be held after the 9 am Mass on Sunday 22 February. Brian M. Goodall President St Anthony’s Conference


CONTENTS

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear friends,

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22 4 12 13 16 20 22 26 28 30

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News Youth

A happy New Year to each of you and welcome to the first edition of ‘Vision’ for 2009. It was just a month ago that we all looked to the new year with hope. The inauguration of President Obama seemed to mark a world-wide renewed sense of excitement and optimism for the future. But in midFebruary, it was with great sadness Mrs. Barbara Ryan that Australia woke to learn of the tragic bushfires that ravaged the Victorian bushland taking with them an unprecedented loss of life and property. With almost 200 people dead and over 1,800 homes lost, our colleagues in the Society in Victoria will be lending the hand of support for some time to come. Over the past few weeks, I have received many calls from Society members and indeed supporters offering to help in any way they can. The many millions of dollars already raised to support the bushfire victims in Victoria and flood victims in Queensland is testament to the great sense of community and togetherness that abounds in Australia. The Society will remember in our prayers those that have lost family members; friends; neighbours and their homes. The victims of these tragedies will feel the effects for some time to come but the St Vincent de Paul Society in Victoria, Queensland and beyond will be there for the long haul, helping people rebuild their homes and lives. Last year saw the development of arguably the most devastating financial crisis the world has seen. This crisis has had a significant impact on individuals, families, small businesses, local community and indeed charities. Over the Christmas period, our members across the State reported an incomparable rise in calls for assistance. In these uncertain times this is only set to increase. The Society is committed to facing whatever challenges lie ahead, working alongside our brothers and sisters, to lend the hand of support and friendship wherever it is needed.

A Culture of Violence?

I ask you to join me in praying for those affected by the bushfires, floods and the economic crisis, as we work to bring much needed hope into their lives.

SPARK: A place to call home

Yours sincerely,

Community

The Real Meaning of Community Avoiding the Pitfalls of Predatory Lending Volunteers: Growing Works

Barbara Ryan State President

Spiritual Reflection: Inspired to Do SUMMER/AUTUMN

VISION

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NEWS

SOCIAL JUSTICE • ENCOUNTER AFRICA • COMPEER

This is the year that was

TICE SOCIAL JUS EVIEW

YEAR IN R

2008

A lot can happen in a year. In the past twelve months we’ve seen the collapse of the world’s financial markets, the Australian housing affordability crisis reach critical mass, petrol prices soar and the worst drought on record continue unabated across more than half of the state.

It hasn’t all been bad news. Indigenous issues and homelessness have become priority issues for governments and the community. So too, within the Catholic community, the celebration of World Youth Day has prompted a renewed commitment among the Church’s youth to take a stand on social justice. To mark the extraordinary events of the past year, the NSW Social Justice Committee is releasing the inaugural Social Justice Year in Review. A collection of key social justice statements produced by the State Council research team of Dr Andy Marks and Cassie Douglas, this publication is a vital overview of the year’s major issues as viewed through the lens of Vincentian social justice. The Social Justice Year in Review is one of many efforts on the part of the NSW Social Justice Committee to connect with Vincentians and the broader community on social justice issues. The key is to not only reflect on social justice matters, but to make an active contribution to the ongoing quest for a compassionate and more equitable society. For more information or copies of the booklet contact: katherine.wild@vinnies.org.au

Society DVD available The Society has compiled a DVD of three and six minute segments showcasing some of the Society’s good works including: About Vinnies; Homelessness; Migrants & Refugees; Mental Health & Compeer; Financial Hardship and World Poverty. For a copy of the DVD please contact Katherine Wild on (02) 9568 0298. 4

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Encounter Africa

In February 2008, Bec Bromhead, former St Vincent de Paul Society National World Youth Day Coordinator and member, now working for the Society in South Africa and is leading a group of young people on Encounter Africa an opportunity to experience the Vincentian family and is open to young people from around the world. Liam Duncan, the Society’s Parramatta Diocesan Youth Coordinator was selected to travel with six other Australians as well as two individuals from the United Kingdom on the trip.

The group will travel through South Africa while experiencing the works and challenges of the Society in South Africa. See the next edition of Vision for stories from the participants.

Compeer Christmas Party

Rob Craparotta, a Compeer volunteer, performs Christmas carols at the group’s Annual Christmas lunch. In early December, Compeer put on a simple “bring and share” Christmas lunch for Compeer friends and volunteers to celebrate Christmas and friendship in true Vincentian spirit. The sense of community and acceptance was strong as guests arrived bearing food and gifts to share. After lunch, Rob, a Compeer volunteer, led the group in Christmas carols. To the delight of all, gifts were exchanged which prompted one friend to jump up and say: “I would just like to thank Compeer for putting on this party and for all the work they do.” The resulting applause was the greatest Christmas gift Compeer could have received. Similar Christmas parties were held at other Compeer programs in NSW. Compeer matches volunteers with socially isolated people living with mental illness.


NEWS

AMP FOUNDATION • CITIZEN OF THE YEAR

AMP Foundation donates $20,000 to Society

Gary Grienke, Coordinator of the Men’s Shed at the Mary MacKillop Outreach has been named the Ashfield Citizen of the Year.

Employee named Ashfield Citizen of the Year Gary Greinke, the Coordinator of the Mary MacKillop Outreach Men’s Shed in Lewisham was awarded Citizen of the Year 2009 in the Ashfield Council Australia Day Awards.

Bernard Fehon, AMP financial planner, presents Barbara Ryan, President St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, with a cheque from the AMP Foundation to support Society works in western Sydney. The AMP Foundation made a generous donation of $20,000 to the Society in November, presenting a cheque to State President Barbara Ryan at Luna Park, the site of the Society’s Annual CEO Sleepout event. The donation is a result of the great support of Bernard Fehon, an AMP financial planner whose business Tactical Solutions is based in western Sydney. Mr Fehon has been an enthusiastic worker on several Vinnies projects and is the founder of the ‘Escape from Poverty’ program, run through Vinnies in Greater Western Sydney.

Gary was cited for his work in establishing and running the Men’s Shed in which almost 70 retired volunteers mentor people with a mental illness or disability in producing furniture and toys for community organisations in the Ashfield area. Gary has helped one blind client produce 1,000 wheelchairs for children in developing countries, and organised more than 150 volunteers to produce 600,000 tiny wooden crosses distributed to World Youth Day pilgrims during the celebration. Gary’s contribution to World Youth Day was acknowledged by a Papal World Youth Day medal. Gary was one of only five volunteer recipients to receive the medal in honor of their extraordinary contribution to World Youth Day from the Pope.

The money will go towards several Vinnies projects in Sydney’s West. SUMMER/AUTUMN

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NEWS

VOLUNTEERING • CEO SLEEPOUT

Barnes opens new mural

Society won silver in the Not-for-Profit Effectiveness award and a bronze in the Integrated Campaigns award. As a winner in two categories, the Society then went on to take home the most prestigious award of the evening, the Lester Wunderman Effectiveness Award. Julie McDonald, Community & Corporate Relations Manager accepted the award on behalf of the Society, dedicating it to the many hundreds of thousands of homeless people that would sleep out that night. The Marketing team would like to acknowledge the creativity and support of all the team at Clemenger BBDO and Clemenger Proximity.

Vinnies recruits CEOs to sleepout for homelessness Singer Jimmy Barnes signs the newest addition to the Matthew Talbot Hostel, a mural designed and painted by residents of the Hostel as one of the artists, Stephen Cory looks on. The men at Matthew Talbot Hostel have been working for several months on a new mural outside the Hostel in Woolloomooloo, Sydney. Sponsored by the City of Sydney, it was part of the Ozanam Learning Centre’s art and recreation program, designed to help the men develop skills, confidence and self-esteem. Artist Stephen Cory (left) was one of the key contributors to the mural, which was “opened” by singer Jimmy Barnes who is seen here autographing the wall. The men at the Talbot developed a relationship with Jimmy Barnes, who has become an unofficial ambassador for homeless people, when they sent him an artwork during his time in hospital following a heart attack. He told the crowd at the opening that he, too, had, in is life, “stood at the brink and looked over.” Barnes, who has spoken of his problems with alcohol and drugs, urged the men to never keep up, to trust there are better times ahead. He said they should work together, stick together, “attend your meetings and never give up.” He said, “There but for the grace of God go I”. Not surprisingly, the round of applause he received was deafening

Vinnies wins big at ADMA

The St Vincent de Paul Society was recently recognised in the Australian Direct Marketing Association awards for the Winter Appeal 2008, ‘This Time Its Personal’ campaign. Nominated by Clemenger Proximity, Vinnies Advertising and Direct Marketing partnered agency, the 6

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

RISE TO THE CHALLENGE The 4th Annual CEO Sleepout aims to generate further funds and awareness to tackle the serious issue of homelessness. Initiated in 2005 to support local fundraising in western Sydney, the event has grown so rapidly as to warrant expansion to State level. In 2009, the Society State Office will develop the event as a major fundraising and promotional component of the Vinnies Winter Appeal. The Sleepout will be held on 18 June 2009 at Luna Park Sydney, challenging CEOs to experience homelessness for a night. Through this experience the Society hopes to recruit champions of social justice to lead the way in building awareness of homelessness within the wider NSW community. The Society is pleased to announce the Real Estate Institute of NSW [REINSW] as our CEO Sleepout event partner. The REINSW President, Steve Martin will participate on behalf of the industry, showing a commitment to tackle the issue head-on. Funds raised through sponsorship of participating CEOs will go directly towards supporting the Society’s homeless services which equip people with the necessary education and skills to help them break the cycle of poverty. If you know of a CEO, business or community leader who might be interested in participating, please contact Jessica Moss-Wellington on (02) 9560 8666 or jessica. moss.wellington@vinnies.org.au.


NEWS

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENTS • RURAL RELIEF • VINNIES VAN

Society negotiates further Abergeldie new sponsor Enterprise Agreements for Vinnies Van, Parramatta with employees

St Vincent de

SW )

(N Paul Society

ent ctive Agreem Retail Colle 2008-2011

In line with its commitment to being an employer of choice, the Society has negotiated a series of enterprise agreements for employees with various unions in the past 18 months. So far the Society has finalised agreements for supported employees and retail employees, and hopes to conclude further agreements for Special Works employees this year.

Agreements have been negotiated to ensure fair and just conditions of employment while ensuring the Society’s capacity to serve our mission is not diminished or impeded. After reviewing employment issues with the assistance of the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations in December 2006, the Society adopted enterprise agreements for staff because of the non-viability of continuing with awards under WorkChoices.

State Youth Team accepts Rural Relief applications

Forbes, NSW site of Rural Relief in May 2008. Rural Relief is an initiative of State Youth Team, which involves a team of young people visiting a Rural Community for a week. The week is all about Vincentians supporting communities that have been affected by the drought. During the week training is conducted, as well as visits to primary schools, a Buddies Day and a community event. Applications are currently being received from regional areas that would like a Rural Relief week in their area. To receive an application pack, contact Jessica Pollard on 9560 8666 or jessica.pollard@vinnies.org.au

Mick Boyle, Managing Director of Abergeldie, and Abergeldie employees present John Picot, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, with a cheque to support Vinnies Van, Parramatta. The familiar Vinnies Van, which hits the streets of Parramatta and Penrith each night will continue giving food, drink and companionship to the lonely, homeless and socially isolated thanks to the generosity of a new sponsor. The Abergeldie Infrastructure Group has committed to cover the costs of the Van for the next three years. “Vinnies is proud to have Abergeldie come on board as a sponsor,” John Picot, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society says. “The company is responsible for complex infrastructure projects, including building some very impressive bridges. The Vinnies van builds a different kind of bridge … a bridge between people.” The Vinnies Van has serviced the area every night for the past 10 years. The Managing Director of the Abergeldie, Mick Boyle, who started the company in 1994, presented a cheque to the CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, John Picot at a ceremony at Darling Harbour. “We couldn’t do the good work we do without the support of businesses like Abergeldie,” John Picot said. SUMMER/AUTUMN

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NEWS

FUNDRAISING

2008 Christmas Appeal

Even in the wake of a global financial crises, the St Vincent de Paul Society’s generous supporters dug deep to help change the stories of the many people that turn to Vinnies in their time of need over the Christmas months. Both state and local Conference fundraising exceeded expectations in such uncertain times. At a Conference level, members ran a number of innovative drives for funds raising almost $1.1 million dollars. This was supported by the state appeal to some 25,000 donors who by early February had donated in excess of $1.3 million for the Society and Matthew Talbot Homeless Services.

Society supports Victorian bushfire efforts

The Society’s response the Victorian bushfire tragedy was overwhelming. 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. The donated warehouse, the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, was literally filled with goods which included food, clothing, furniture, whitegoods, tools and machinery. With the immediate crisis over, the warehouse is now winding down, and the goods being dispatched to the 99 Centres around Victoria where fire survivors will be able to access what they need, when they need it. In Sydney, State Council fielded countless calls from people wanting to help. The Lewisham staff and a band of tireless volunteers produced more than 20,000 disaster collection envelopes for distribution to parishes. The Sydney Vietnamese Catholic community alone raised $70,000. 8

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Above & left: Volunteers sort donations at the Victorian Society’s Rowville Warehouse, Casamento Photography. Below: Vietnamese Catholic community representative present Julie McDonald, CCR Manager with a cheque for $70,000 to support the Bushfire Appeal.


NEWS

COMMUNITY • UPHOLSTERY PROGRAM

Student shocked by homelessness acts

work with the homeless. Barbara, very impressed by the efforts of Christopher and the school, presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation and talked to him about his compassion and concern for the homeless, and of course, about how he was spending his Christmas holidays.

Mary MacKillop Men’s Shed Clients Restore Ashfield Council History

Christopher Watters, a Year 1 student at Our Lady of the Rosary receives a certificate of appreciation from Barbara Ryan, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW President, after fundraising for homelessness to support the Society’s works

6-year-old Christopher Watters, concerned for homeless people he saw on the streets, raised $73.20 for the St Vincent de Paul Society through a lolly guessing competition at his school, Our Lady of the Rosary, Kellyville. So inspired by his initiative, the Vega 95.3 Breakfast Show donated $100 to Chrstopher’s fundraising campaign, bringing the total to $173.20. In January, Christopher visited Society President Barbara Ryan with his parents and his sister Jacqueline, and personally presented a cheque to support the Society’s

The Men’s Shed Upholstery Program at Mary MacKillop Outreach has been making its mark on the Ashfield community by restoring the vintage chairs of the local council. The group started with Ashfield Mayor CR Ted Cassidy’s chair in 2008, and their services are now in high demand, with 16 restorations of council chairs in the works. This highly complex and intricate work involves the careful restoration of carved edging that has been damaged on several chairs, re-springing, binding and the replacement of original leather coverings. Volunteers with carpentry and French polishing backgrounds have passed these skills onto the clients that they mentor and work together on the final restoration of the many upholstery projects. Through the Upholstery Program, trained volunteers mentor persons living with a mental illness or disability to complete projects benefiting community organisations, including nursing homes or hostels. The Outreach teamed up with Lidcombe TAFE in late 2008 to implement accredited training programs in Upholstery, building on the success of the Sydney Community College Evening courses in Upholstery conducted throughout 2006 and 2007. SUMMER/AUTUMN

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NEWS

LEARNING SERVICES

Budget Counselling finds new approach to training

Regional Presidents meeting in Cobar, Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese.

Stages 1,2 and 3 of Budget Counselling in the Maitland/ Newcastle Diocese in early December 2008. In late 2008, Maitland/Newcastle Diocesan President Gwen Sampson requested that Learning Services provide all three stages of Budget Counselling training on three successive days. The course has traditionally delivered in three separate parts so that participants may sit-in with experienced budget counsellors working with clients and complete homework assignments relevant to the course. The new approach to the course features a number of case studies, a DVD presentation, guest speakers from Centrelink and the Ombudsman’s Office (EWON) and small group workshops. The feedback from the new delivery was very positive and those who completed the training are to be teamed up with existing budget counsellors in order to ensure that they receive the necessary experience in real life situations prior to becoming a fully fledged counsellor. As in all of the Society’s ‘good works’, interviews with those seeking budget counselling services are undertaken in teams of two. Budget counsellors are paired with another practicing budget counsellor or another Vincentian who is bound by the confidentiality of the process. Michael Callaghan, Vice President, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, attended the training with other participants from the Caroline Chisholm Centre for Social Justice in the Parramatta Diocese. All enjoyed the training as well as meeting other Vincentians in a training setting. For information on budget counselling training contact Honey Davies on (02) 9568 0243. 10

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Wilcannia/Forbes Regional Presidents meet, discuss challenges On November 27 - 29, 2008 there was a gathering of Regional Presidents in Cobar in the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese. After a very friendly gathering on Friday evening at the home of Wilcannia/Forbes Diocesan President Leo Sheehan and his wife Geraldine, the Regional Presidents and aspiring Regional Presidents gathered to work in a highly interactive seminar, which addressed a number of issues of relevance to the Diocese. A focal point of the training was the newly approved position description for the Regional President, which provided appreciated clarity to the role and its responsibilities. Sessions involved discussion and workshop syndicates with participants reporting on each groups ideas and outcomes. Participants took two self-tests to develop problem-solving and leadership techniques. In trying to illicite new ways of approaching the difficulties associated with the role of Regional President, groups brainstormed together and identified active strategies to address these challenges. The opportunities for interacting and networking were truly appreciated and participation was enthusiastic throughout the seminar. Kelly Keane, the recently appointed Executive Officer of the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese based in Parkes participated in the weekend. “The workshop involved the provision of very useful information to assist participants in their roles,” Kelly said.


NEWS

OZANAM LEARNING CENTRE

Ozanam Learning Centre opens its doors to clients

part of its new initiative to target people at risk in the community. It’s not just men from the hostel who are able to use the centre. It’s a stimulating hive of activity. On any one day there could be computer lessons, cognitive behaviour therapy, trivia competitions, computer lessons, guitar lessons, a job club, gym classes, cooking activities and art going on. In early February, TAFE-accredited education courses began. And each week, as part of a community access program, a group of clients is taken on an outing relevant to their needs or interests. “And it’s still early days,” the Centre’s Education and Activities Program Administrator, Julian Laurens says. “I don’t think it is overstating it to say that these wonderful new surroundings have generated a new sense of hope among the people we work with who are experiencing homelessness or disadvantage. Hope is a word that’s easy to bandy about, but, here, it is real.”

When the doors of the Matthew Talbot Homeless Services’ new Ozanam Learning Centre in Wolloomooloo opened to clients on December 18, there was a line of men already waiting – eager to immerse themselves in the opportunities that lay inside. “They couldn’t wait,” Matthew Talbot Homeless Services CEO Helen Stirling says. “There was a real buzz. It was very exciting”. The state-of-the-art centre, which was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in November, was now open for business, offering a range of educational programs and recreational activities to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and despair. The legal firm Gilbert + Tobin, which provides weekly pro bono work to men at the Matthew Talbot Hostel put on a celebratory morning tea. There was no mistaking by everyone present that this was a very special day. “Response from clients has been incredibly positive,” Helen says. “There is this feeling of being almost overwhelmed. They’re saying ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this for me’. And already we are starting to have women access the centre, along with some locals.” The fact the centre is open to both genders is a new direction for Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, and

Julian says the mix of programs and activities offer both the tangible and the intangible. As well as gaining real skills, clients also gain dignity, self-respect and a sense of worth. What had seemed impossible slowly became possible. “I think it says a lot about this place that we actually had some backpackers wander in the other day,” Julian says. “They could see it seemed to be the centre of something great. We had to take them aside and explain what we were all about.” Programs and courses on offer at the Ozanam Learning Centre include: • Nationally Recognised Training Courses from Statement of Attainment to Certificate II Level in areas such as computer skills, office skills, hospitality, literacy and numeracy skills and graphic design. • Vocational and job skills including resume writing, interview and presentation skills • Living skills such as cooking and nutrition, personal care, communication and budgeting. • Health Promotion including regular information sessions on alcohol and other drugs, mental health issues and parenting support groups; as well as physical education/ gym classes. • Music for all levels including guitar lessons, band jams, performances, full recording studio and music therapy • Art and recreation including sculpture, pottery, painting, drama workshops and art therapy.

SUMMER/AUTUMN

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NEWS

INCORPORATION

Society becomes Incorporated The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State Council agreed on December 8, 2008, to become a Company Limited by Guarantee under the Corporations Act 2001. This decision was made after an analysis and expert advice by Society and other parties of our Society structure, reporting requirements and administrative proficiency. The review was initiated by questioning the ability of the Society in NSW to remain relevant to its members, volunteers, supporters and the general public in continuing to honour the Society Mission: “The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organization that aspires to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society” in our contemporary world. The Society is currently incorporated under an act of parliament that was created to provide Catholic religious orders with a legal persona for the purpose of owning property. Prior to its creation property had to be held in the name of an individual in the religious order or by the bishop. This act is known as the Roman Catholic Church Community Lands Act 1942. An analysis of this act sixty seven years on deemed it no longer a suitable model of incorporation for the Society. For quite a number of years the preferred incorporation for Catholic religious and charitable organisations has been a Company Limited by Guarantee. This model of incorporation was created specially for not-for-profit organisations like the Society, being less onerous than other forms of incorporation but meeting community and government expectations. By the Society moving to this form of incorporation, it can position itself to meet legal and community requirements well into the foreseeable future.

Advantages of this form of incorporation: • • • • • • • • • •

Most appropriate legal entity for the Society. Clearly defined requirements for members in law. Limited liability (protection) for members. National registration under ASIC and future charitable regulation. Objectives not restrictive, in line with the Society’s Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) status. Indemnity (protection) for directors. Good governance required in law. Transparency of financial matters required in law. Reporting obligations less onerous than other forms of incorporation. Release from the Roman Catholic Churches Community Lands Act 1942.

Disadvantages of this form of incorporation: • Establishment costs. • More challenging disclosure and reporting requirements. 12

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Responsibilities of the State Council (the board): • Providing leadership and good governance of the Society in fulfilling its Mission. • Applying discipline and transparency to board operations. • Fulfilling obligations under the Corporations Act 2001.

Responsibilities of State Council members (the directors): • Act honestly and diligently. • Be properly informed in making decisions. • Act with reasonable care in the best interests of the organization. • Never take advantage of the position for personal advantage. • Never use information gained to benefit self, family, an associate or other organisation. • Always disclose any conflict of interest. • Comply with the terms of the Society’s Rule and Constitution (constituent documents).

Constitution and constituent documents: • The Society in NSW will operate with its own constitution. • The Rule (2005) will be incorporated in the constitution. • In matters of conflict The Rule (2005) will prevail. • There will be a memorandum of understanding between State Council and Diocesan Councils (Central Councils) detailing operational responsibilities.

Core documents that the Society will govern with: • • • • • •

Constitution Strategic plan. Risk management plan. Society Policy & Procedure manual. Quality standards. Financial reports (general ledger, cash records, debtor/sale, creditor/purchases, wage & superannuation, plant register, inventory, investments, tax, deeds, contracts, agreements. • Minutes of State Council meetings.


NEWS

Q&A ABOUT INCORPORATION

Frequently Asked Questions about the incorporation of the St Vincent de Paul Society Q How will this decision change my Society work? A Member and Associate member roles will not

Q. Why are we not already complying with these requirements? A The Society in NSW is operating under the Roman

Q What changes can I as a volunteer expect? A The most significant changes are likely to have little impact on volunteers other than those directly involved with State Council.

Catholic Churches Community Lands Act 1942. This Act does not call the Society in NSW to account to its members or the community in any way. Government and community accountability standards in 2008 are very different to those of 1942. At the end of the day the Society in NSW relies on both government and the community for funding and support to survive. All other Society operations in Australia are already incorporated under various Acts of Parliament.

Q How will it affect my region or diocese? A There will be clearer delegations of authority, and

Q. Who will be the NSW State Council board? A The Board will consist of a State President, 4

change.

more demands for administrative proficiency across the Society.

Q. Will the existing levels of services be maintained? A Yes-in fact the object is to improve significantly both support of members and volunteers and service to the poor.

Q. When will all this happen? A It is planned to commence staged introduction in July 2010 and complete by June 2011. The first full year after implementation will commence in July 2011.

Q. Why do all this? A The Federal Government is currently reviewing Not-

For-Profit (NFP) operations across Australia to introduce legislation to address uniformity, transparency, and accountability. The Society either begins this change now and controls the change gradually or, alternatively, is forced to take necessary urgent action to conform when the new legislation is enacted.

Vice Presidents, A Youth Vice President,10 Diocesan Council Presidents. The CEO and Secretary will be in attendance. This is the same as the current State Council membership under The Rule 2005.

Q How will they be appointed? A Appointments/elections will be as they are currently

and as provided for in both the constitution and The Rule (2005). All appointments will be voluntary.

Q Who are the members of the company? A The 16 members of State Council are the company

members. This is the same as the current membership of State Council.

Q Who are members of the Society? A Members of the Society are as defined in The Rule (2005).

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YOUTH

STATE YOUTH TEAM NEWS

Make Some Space On the first weekend in November twenty young adults gathered at the Hermitage in Mittagong for a retreat to be revived with the spirit of World Youth Day. The theme of the retreat was ‘Make Some Space’ which was taken from one of the Pope’s Homilies at WYD. The Pope encouraged all present to make space for the Spirit in our world that want to forget God. It was very encouraging to gather with other young Vincentians who are on a faith journey and are focused on living their faith vibrantly in all they do. Over the weekend we spent time in reflection alone and with groups. We explored the beautiful property and managed to reconnect with God. We truly did Make Some Space.

Advanced Training Weekend

1

The Advanced Training Weekend was held from the 12th - 14th December at Lewisham and at the Collaroy Centre. Many Dioceses in NSW were represented as well as representatives from Queensland and WA. The professionalism of the presenters was a highpoint of the weekend. Even the most experienced volunteers present learnt a lot and left the weekend with new ideas and tips about how to improve youth activity in their Diocese. Who would have thought that you could learn so much about Managing Challenging Behaviours through making a behaviour management magic wand from pipe cleaners and other craft supplies? The results were certainly entertaining, but a lot was learnt as well. Thanks to all that attended and especially to the presenters who gave up some of their precious weekend to share their wisdom with us.

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1 Make Some Space 2 Gabby Franco, Sydney Youth Representative 3 Matthew Kirkham, Parramatta Youth Representative

Youth representatives with the heart of Ozanam Each Diocese in NSW has the position of youth representative on their Diocesan Council. Contact your Diocesan President to find out who the youth representative is in your Diocese. If you would like to be a youth representative in your Diocese, talk to the Diocesan President. Meet two of our current youth representatives, young people that bring the spirit of Ozanam to all they do for Vinnies. The Society is greatly enriched by their commitment.

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Matthew Kirkham: Lismore Diocese

Good Works: Buddies Days, Kids Camps, State Youth Team activities What is your favourite Vinnies memory? Going to India and seeing the Vincentians and the good works they do there and how similar it is in Australia.

Gabby Franco: Sydney Archdiocese

Good Works: Redfern Taskforce, Buddies Days, Kids Camps, State Youth Team activities, SPARK What is your favourite Vinnies memory? Learning a traditional Solomon Islander dance at FAMVIN!


COMMUNITY

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SCHOOLS IN DROUGHT-AFFECTED DIOCESE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO PARTY

1 Thank you drawing 2 Thank you from students at White Cliffs Public School 3 Thank you from Clare Public School

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Schools in drought-affected Diocese given the chance to party The St Vincent de Paul Society has been working for some years in the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese to try to relieve the difficulties facing families affected by the ongoing drought. The Society has witnessed first hand the effects on farmers and businesses in rural towns. Children are required to forgo many typical childhood pleasures because of the drought and its effects across the whole region.

With the generous support of the Society’s Broken Bay Diocese, 2,516 school students from 45 schools across the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese were given the opportunity to have a happy and meaningful end of year party. These schools have a student population ranging from 4 to just over 100.

Children are required to forgo many typical childhood pleasures because of the drought and its effects across the whole region. As part of the Society’s commitment to the people of the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese, in December 2008, the St Vincent de Paul Society provided schools in small drought-affected towns the opportunity to participate in a project across the Diocese. The purpose of which was to enable the children to celebrate Christmas with their school friends while supporting the local community by sourcing party items from local businesses. The Society supported the school in purchasing food and drink items. This was coordinated by Vince Toohey, Wilcannia/ Forbes Diocesan Vice President and Rural Task Force Coordinator for the Wilcannia/Forbes Diocese.

The parties held included pool parties; sausage sizzles; sit down lunches; morning and afternoon teas; Santa visits while children enjoyed lollies, chips, ice cream and Christmas gifts. In one school in the widespread rural Diocese, the funds contributed to the travel costs required to bring students and parents together to celebrate Christmas. The St Vincent de Paul Society has received many lovely letters, cards and pictures of appreciation from the schools that participated in this project, many of which would have not been able to hold a Christmas celebration without these donated funds. SUMMER/AUTUMN

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY • 8 MARCH 2009

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O

ver the years, Barbara Caris worked with countless women who had fled domestic violence. She’d seen it all: the bruises, the broken bones, and the shattered spirits.

Nothing really surprised Barbara anymore. She knew the violence honoured no stereotypes and that neither perpetrator nor victim could be conveniently pigeon-holed. Rich, poor, young, old, loud, quiet. There were no clues there. The only way you could ever tell the homes where domestic violence was occurring was when a victim managed to get away and reveal her story. Like most domestic violence workers, Barbara quickly came to only expect the unexpected. Still, years later there are a couple of faces that stick in Barbara’s mind. One of them is of a woman she was called on by police to collect from hospital. “Oh, her face … her arms… her chest,” she says in disbelief. “The stitches. The broken bones”. Another is of a woman in her 80s with literally no where to go. Barbara Caris and her good friend Phyl McKinnirey, a former committee president, were the founding

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“They were escaping violence, and suddenly to be in a refuge with young mothers and their kids was very, very stressful for them,” Barbara says. “The only reason many of these women had been able to escape was because they had finally raised their families. They’d lived lives of hell for years, waiting until their children had grown up before they felt they could go. They’d left with only the clothes they stood up in. And then to be around young women with acute needs and little kids as they tried to sort out their lives was just too hard.” Our Lady of the Way was born of one little house, no funding, a great need and dogged perseverance. That was in 1996. Thirteen years later 738 women have called the place home, their precious first step on new lives. That’s just one quarter of the 2,916 who had been officially referred, so great was the need. Barbara was its first manager, a position she held until ill health forced her to retire last year. “I think older women face particular psychological challenges,” Barbara says. “They’ve been bullied or beaten by their husbands for years and years. He walked all over them and controlled everything she did. Then one day she walks out. It’s impossible to

They’d lived lives of hell for years, waiting until their children had grown up before they felt they could go. They’d left with only the clothes they stood up in.

force behind the Society’s Our Lady of the Way refuge in Western Sydney. It’s the only refuge in NSW to accommodate just older, single women. Barbara, a long time Vinnies volunteer and member, had been working in another women’s refuge, St Joseph’s, when she saw the need for a separate place for older women.

imagine how hard that is. They often have a lot of psychological trouble.

their Way “Some just didn’t know how to begin to pick up the pieces. Others got back on their feet… it was emotionally very draining.”

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY • 8 MARCH 2009

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics violence against older women is serious and increasing, yet under-reported. The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse predicts the rates of violence against older women are likely to increase in Australia in the context of a rapidly ageing population, increase in life expectancy and a high cost of housing, combined with the economic crisis.

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“When I was young no one talked about domestic violence,” Barbara says. “It was swept under the carpet. I didn’t even know there was such a

see things clearly. I couldn’t believe what some women went through… “I just felt we could make a difference; that it shouldn’t be like this. [Establishing the refuge] was just an extension of my Vinnies work really,” she says. She praises the Parramatta Regional and Diocesan Councils, and the Conferences, for their ongoing support. There’s still no government funding. “We couldn’t keep going without them.” Barbara and Phyl are now out of refuge work enjoying well-earned quieter times. Barbara still

Sadly, however, it is unlikely Our Lady of the Way will go out of it daily. There is rarely a vacancy. Turnover is slow. Women stay thing until I started doing conference work. The community is getting much more understanding and much more willing to face up to what is going on. People talk about it. They name it. I think older women sometimes still don’t want to accept that what is going on is violence. “They know what their husband or their family is doing to them isn’t right, but because that’s how they’ve been treated all their lives, they often can’t

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keeps in touch with some of the women she worked with. That homeless 80-year old is now 84, and is back on her feet. Barbara helped her plant out her little front garden and often sees her as she is driving by. International Women’s Day on March 8th is the day for applauding women’s achievements, and Barbara and Phyl’s achievement is mighty. So, too, is that of the women who have been able to take


the hand extended to them to make it up and over. Sadly, however, it is unlikely Our Lady of the Way will go out of business anytime soon. Referring agencies continue to contact it daily. There is rarely a vacancy. Turnover is slow. Women stay until they are strong enough to move on, and there is housing in place. Smashed lives cannot be healed overnight.

“But the most wonderful thing is when that starts to change, and she slowly begins to get strong and confident again. They’re with other women who have been through the same thing. For years they might have thought they were the only one, that they must have done something wrong to deserve it. To sit around and talk to other women and hear their stories is really good. They’re not alone”.

The present residents of Our Lady of the Way are all in their 50s and 60s. A few bear the visible scars of tough and cruel lives. Put bluntly, they look knocked

business anytime soon. Referring agencies continue to contact until they are strong enough to move on, and there is housing in place. around. The suffering of other women, though, is less overt, revealed only by a quiet wringing of their hands, or arms folded tight, or a gaze averted. “I think that’s what always made me sadder,” Barbara says. “It’s when a woman’s confidence has been destroyed. Some, when they come, are too scared to even ask for a cup a tea. They’re not sure if they can even take a shower without permission. It’s very sad. SUMMER/AUTUMN

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SPARK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FINDING A PLACE TO CALL HOME

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY

A Place to Call Home

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he St Vincent de Paul Society’s SPARK program helps refugee kids and their families work through the often difficult transition stage that follows resettlement in Australia.

Currently operating in six schools in Western Sydney, SPARK has produced some very encouraging outcomes, with many children from traumatised backgrounds achieving great results at school and feeling more settled in the local community and at home. The topic of home is understandably central to the many stories that have been unearthed by the SPARK Special Work. Despite the many inroads being made by programs like SPARK, it is clear that the challenges faced by refugees, particularly in relation to housing, are great. The issue of ‘home’ and the ongoing housing affordability crisis led SPARK Coordinator Clare Thompson and the Catholic Education Office, Sydney to convene a forum late last year. The forum focussed on the experience of Sudanese refugees in the Auburn region of Western Sydney. Families talked about the difficulties associated with issues such as multiple rent increases and short

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notification periods. The continuing obligation to move is proving to be very unsettling for many children who in most cases have already experienced a lifetime of unimaginable upheaval. Faced with exorbitant rent hikes, one mother of nine children made fourteen applications for public housing. Having eventually secured a place, she now worries about the effect the extremely poor condition of the premises and the high level of crime in the local community will have on her children. Another parent said she was also very concerned about the lack of suitable housing in the area, yet she was reluctant to move elsewhere given the fact her children were settled at school. The vital role that schools play in supporting settlement was a point touched upon by virtually all forum participants. This fact again emphasises the importance of providing children with a stable yet highly interactive social setting, a setting which schools in the area and the SPARK program have been very successful in fostering. Despite the grievances raised, the majority of forum participants were positive about the new lives they were building. “We are happy in Australia”, said one woman. However, she said that the problems they encountered, “made life hard and we don’t know what to do.”

Children too have been encouraged to share their thoughts on their new lives in Australia. When asked what “a place to call home” means to her, eight year-old Winnie from Sudan said, “A place to call home is Australia and Africa. I came from Africa to Australia. A place to call home is home. I feel safe at home with my family.” Fellow SPARK participant Rebekah commented, home is a place where “we live together”. Hala, aged nine, said, “My home is special to me because my family live there. There are also lots of kind neighbours”. Eight year-old Theresa added, “My mum lives at home. My mum is beautiful. I cook with my family. I help my family. I love my family”. Conscious of the importance of finding stability in the early years of settlement, the St Vincent de Paul Society continues to work with the local refugee communities, assisting them wherever possible to address their concerns. Clare Thompson is currently preparing a report of the forum to be released later in the year. Similarly, the NSW Social Justice Committee is examining the possibility of conducting a collaborative research study charting the impact of the SPARK program on the lives of refugees, schools, Vincentians and community participants.

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SOCIAL ACTION

THE REAL MEANING OF COMMUNITY

Community The Real Meaning of

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hen a whole community is stigmatised in this way, it’s only natural that they come together and fight back.” Teresa Harm, manager of the Vincentian Social Action Centre in Campbelltown has joined a growing chorus of community members from south western Sydney seeking to redress the negative publicity following in the wake of a disturbance in the Rosemeadow public housing estate earlier this year. On Monday, 5 January, several arrests occurred in response to an alleged brawl among residents at the so-called ‘3M’ region of the Rosemeadow estate. The term ‘3M’ refers to three cul-de-sacs, Macbeth, Macduff and Malcolm Way, adjacent to Copperfield Drive, roughly 2 kilometres south of Campbelltown city centre. Many of the headlines that followed the incident were perhaps predictable: “Youth remained indignant, targeting police and media and taunting officers”, said one Sydney tabloid, adding, “pizza deliverers refuse to visit the troubled suburb”; “Rosemeadow is a cauldron”; and, “anyone who does not live [in Rosemeadow] is not welcome.” Considering the actual circumstances of the region in question, these kind of comments are unhelpful and grossly ill-informed. Residents of 3M are some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged in the state. Unemployment levels in the Campbelltown area are nearly twice the national average, a figure expected to worsen as the full impact of the global financial crisis spreads.

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Much of the community’s efforts to restore selfrespect and compassion are based on a range of considerably successful grass roots initiatives. Although rarely reported in the tabloid press, Teresa tells how residents at Rosemeadow run a thriving communal garden and a neighbourhood eatery called the Yummy Café. These types of enterprises are not limited to the Rosemeadow estate. Throughout Campbelltown’s many community housing estates, residents are breaking down the myths and stereotypes unfairly attached to people in the region. In Claymore, the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Animation Project has enabled residents to establish a community laundromat, the Kalon House of Welcome, and a range of other programs producing very encouraging outcomes for residents. Laundromat committee members say, “The laundromat and coffee shop is one of the biggest success stories in Claymore. We residents have demonstrated that if you have a vision, committed people and support where necessary, you can do anything. We’ve broken the mould.” Unfortunately, major news outlets do not typically deem these stories newsworthy. In response to the 3M disturbance, police called on residents to “take ownership” of their problems. It is unfair to blame police, as they are not social workers, nor do they have the resources to conduct intensive community building exercises; yet it is vital that the broader community, government departments, authorities and the media acknowledge the extraordinary efforts the majority of housing estate

Many youths actively try to get work, but as she explains, “they say where they live and they don’t get a look in”.

Young men in particular, says Teresa, find it difficult to cope. It’s not always a question of motivation. Many youths actively try to get work, but as she explains, “they say where they live and they don’t get a look in”. Teresa stresses that for the overwhelming majority of residents, fighting back doesn’t mean resorting to violence. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite, a point emphasised by community elders. Respected Indigenous figure Uncle Ivan Wellington is one of many local leaders who have strenuously called for calm.

residents have undertaken to do just that, “take ownership”. In addition to community gardens, cafes and laundromats, Teresa comments on the remarkable initiative shown by residents involved in developing a barren patch of land now dubbed the “Dream Park”. The Dream Park grew in response to the local community’s wish to provide a restorative space for themselves and most importantly their children. It is a program totally driven by local residents, who worked together with few resources to design, landscape and maintain a beautiful park SUMMER/AUTUMN

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SOCIAL ACTION

THE REAL MEANING OF COMMUNITY

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in the middle of one of the most disadvantaged areas of Campbelltown’s estates. Community ventures like the Dream Park are testament to residents’ desire to take control of their lives in a positive and constructive way. It is, however, critical that these efforts are reciprocated. To date, says Teresa, residents who wish to “get more involved in the park or get events happening in the space” have not always been taken seriously by authorities. For real progress to occur, this attitude on the part of those controlling the resources has to change. Positive and open communication must be a priority for both groups.

other areas. However, recent developments, both positive and negative across Campbelltown’s housing estates teach us that one vital factor cannot be ignored. Quite simply, we must listen to and respect the voices of residents if we are to bring true meaning back to the word “community.”

What does it mean to be part of a community? Dr Andy Marks, Senior Researcher with the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, looks beyond the headlines to get the real news on the remarkable developments occurring in the one of the most disadvantaged communities in south western Sydney.

In seeking longer term solutions to entrenched problems in the region, many researchers and policy makers have called for a large scale reform of social housing. Current thinking promotes the breaking-up of high-density residential allotments. This has led to several large swathes of public housing being demolished. While the need to create adequate space and access in public housing design is no doubt legitimate, many commentators have criticised this response, arguing it addresses only a minor part of the problem. Commenting in The Australian, Dr Kurt Iverson from the University of Sydney said design considerations alone do not reflect the complexities faced by residents of public housing estates. “The problem lays more with the fact that only the poorest of the poor and the terminally unemployed qualified for public housing”. Dr Iverson is calling for more diversity in public housing. This approach reflects an emerging trend in housing that adheres to the notion that stronger communities are forged through diversity and not by lumping exceptionally disadvantaged groups together in restrictive and stigmatised environments.

Making homes out of houses

One thing that seems common to the residents of Claymore is the way housing affects all our lives. The structure of buildings, the way public space has been badly used, so that no one ever has any privacy. Many residents complain that the cramped and badly designed houses affect their quality of living. Our houses are the symbol of how we live. The Department of Housing only blames the community. It’s hard to call our houses home, when we have to struggle every day with living in them. We need to reconstruct Claymore, and let the residents identify what sort of houses they want to live in, the sort of space they want to be able to move freely in.

Professor Vivienne Milligan of the University of New South Wales joined Dr Iverson in seeking to promote a policy re-think. “While demolishing the estate and relocating residents is one option, another is to allocate a mix of incomes to an estate, so you don’t have one kind of community in income and social terms.”

We would like to have a front door renewed with a dead lock and screen door. Bathroom floor tiles renewed with tiles in the recess area. Worn-out screens replaced on all windows. Flaky kitchen cupboards replaced and dysfunctional plates on stoves repaired. Broken fencing and gates that surround the house to be renewed with a pleasant style and colour. Blocked up drainage cleared and replaced with a better lid on the drain. Of all of the above, a liveable environment.

Certainly the views of researchers are to be acknowledged. Indeed, many of the theories they put forward have proved successful in practice in

Joanna, a resident of Claymore Housing Estate An extract from ‘Claymore Stories’, published by the St Vincent de Paul Society, 2006

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ECONOMIC CRISIS

AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF PREDATORY LENDING

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he global financial crisis is presenting many challenges to the St Vincent de Paul Society, some of them new, others more familiar. Research and the experience of members tells us that heightened levels of financial strain among low income groups will see a rise in predatory lending practices. What is predatory lending? Predatory lending is when loans are deliberately provided to people who do not have the capacity to meet the repayments. It is a term that encompasses the methods employed by disreputable financial institutions, credit agencies and other loan providers to target vulnerable members of the community. Much of the problem stems from the commission that brokers get in return for arranging loans. Some unscrupulous brokers misrepresent a client’s ability to make repayments in order to secure their commission. The ability of the client to pay the loan back is not their concern. Alexandra Kelly from the Consumer Credit Legal Centre (CCLC) says many brokers “grossly inflate the applicants’ income and assets”. Despite the unethical nature of these practices, poor regulation has made it difficult to achieve prosecutions. The CLCC notes one notable exception where in 2007 an ACT broker was convicted of “deceptive and misleading conduct” for approving a $365,000 lowdoc loan for a 19 year-old homeless man”. Low-Doc Loans So-called ‘low-doc’ loans are particularly problematic. Researcher Tim Elliot explains that 26

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“a low-doc (low-documentation) loan is designed to assist people who don’t qualify for a standard, or prime, loan. They don’t require the borrower to provide evidence of income, such as tax returns or payslips”. Most low-doc loans are based on a cursory estimate of income and assets. The simplified structure of low-doc loans makes them particularly attractive to low-income groups, many of whom have bad credit histories and limited assets. Payday Loans Payday loans are another area of concern to the St Vincent de Paul Society. Payday loans refer to cash advances offered to applicants, again without requiring confirmation of the recipient’s ability to pay. The average loan size is around $300. Cash is made readily available, and in most cases deposited straight into the applicant’s account.

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Interest rates vary but are payment essential, which

Interest rates vary but are typically upwards of 10 per cent per week. This makes quick payment essential, which of course is not an easy prospect for a disadvantaged individual. Karen Cox of the CCLC told ABC journalist Brendan Trembath, “These loan providers actually have a large penetration into the lower socio-economic groups. So a lot of financial counselling clients will turn up with loans to some of these non-bank establishments. The problem for a lot of these


people is they do actually have difficulty obtaining traditional finance so the only option available for them is the alternative suburban lenders who often lend at very high rates that those people simply can’t afford.” Consolidation Loans Consolidation loans are also an issue of concern. While these types of loan allow the grouping together of smaller, typically difficult to manage loans, there are disadvantages. As the Office of Fair Trading points out, the fees and charges attached to these loans can be considerably higher than other types of finance. Charges and fees common to predatory lending are particularly onerous. In some instances, a client can be charged hundreds of dollars just to receive a written notice of arrears or to be contacted by phone. These costs can rapidly accumulate, in

advisors and credit providers will be covered by a national licensing scheme. Lenders will be licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which will be given extra powers to police the scheme, with provisions forcing fringe operators to lend responsibly”. What is the St Vincent de Paul Society doing? Both at the state and national level, the issue of predatory lending has been designated a St Vincent de Paul Society social justice priority. This means intensive research and advocacy programs are currently being undertaken to address the issue in an informed and proactive manner. In the meantime, the Society will of course continue to work with people exploited by predatory practices, aiming wherever possible to avert crises before they begin, but always committed to helping those in trouble.

typically upwards of 10 percent per week. This makes quick of course is not an easy prospect for a disadvantaged individual. many cases exceeding the original loan amount. Once loans have reached this stage they can prove very difficult to reconcile and there is often little legal recourse, as the costs of launching court action are prohibitive. What is the Government doing? Recognising the severity and scope of the problem, the federal government is reviewing the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. As Tim Elliot explains, “For the first time, all mortgage and finance brokers,

The preventative budgeting and financial literacy strategies employed by the Society have grown in range and diversity in recent years. In many ways this reflects the increasing complexity of the financial market. For the sake of the people we serve, it is vital that we endeavour to stay one step ahead of the predators.

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VOLUNTEERS VOLUNTEERS

GROWING GROWING WORKS WORKS

Welcome

Welcome to our fifth edition! These pages are dedicated to our members and volunteers and their Growing Works. Please share with us your stories and ideas of how volunteers are being recruited, appreciated, and supported in the many good works they are involved with. We would love to hear from you. Contact Kate Scholl, Volunteer Development Coordinator, kate.scholl@vinnies.org.au, Tel: 9560 8666; Fax: 9564 3622.

International Volunteer Day, 5 November 2008

It’s Time to Grow Update: Successful Recruitment

Broken Bay Diocese Recruitment update: Frank Ledwidge, Hornsby Regional President writes: “Recruitment activity in the Hornsby Region of Broken Bay Diocese had become a low priority. While Conferences welcomed enquiries about membership, little pro-active recruitment work was being done. The It’s Time to Grow Recruitment Workshop held at Waitara in May 2008 helped to change all of that. The workshop was facilitated by the Volunteer Development Advisory Committee, with 37 members participating, 22 of which were from Hornsby Region. At the workshop, each Conference drew up a recruitment plan and over the following months the plans were implemented. Promotional methods included appeals from the pulpit, notices in church bulletins and information evenings. Interested persons were invited to learn about the Society by attending Conference meetings and going on home visits with experienced members. We are happy to report that most of the nine conferences in the Hornsby Region now have more members and there is an openness to see recruitment as an ongoing process of expansion and renewal rather than just an occasional event.”

Shirley Caves, Marianne Jackson-Smale and Lynne Field enjoy the festivities of the 2008 Volunteer and Member Christmas Party. International Volunteer Day 2008 on Friday 5 December was an appropriate date to hold the Annual Volunteers and Members Christmas party hosted by the State Council. Over 100 people gathered for the Eucharist celebrated by Vincentian Father, Fr Peter Reedy, preceded by carols and followed by lunch and ample time for socialising.

Recruitment Resource for all Conferences A Recruitment Resource Kit is now available for Conferences ready to undertake recruitment. This does not replace the workshop, but is made available for Conferences that may not have a workshop scheduled for the near future and are ready to begin a recruitment program. Please contact Kate Scholl to receive a copy. 28

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Jon Kass is one of many parish volunteers who participated in packing hampers on behalf of the Society this Christmas. Sydney Archdiocese Recruitment update: Alan Maroney, from Revesby Parish in Sydney Archdiocese, is very enthusiastic about the It’s time to Grow program. Three members of the Revesby Conference attended the Recruitment Workshop hosted by the Sydney Archdiocese in June. They had a recruitment program in September and utilised many of the resources and ideas discussed at the workshop and available in the recruitment kit they received. They were hoping for six or so recruits and ended up with thirteen new members, who four months later are still with them. They have even had to get a bigger meeting room!


REGIONAL SHARING NEWS PRESIDENTS FROM THE VOLUNTEER DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE (VDAC)

International Volunteer Day News

National Volunteer Week 11 - 17 May 2009

National Volunteer Week (NVW) is the largest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism in Australia. It provides an opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our communities and to say thank you to the more than 5 million Australians who volunteer each year.

Lylea McMahon, Member for Shellharbour and Graham West, Minister for Juvenile Justice, Volunteering and Youth present Krystle Marsh, Vinnies Youth Member, with the 2008 NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. Congratulations to Krystle Marsh who was named the 2008 NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year and 2008 Illawarra Region Volunteer of the Year, prior to International Volunteer Day on the 5th December 2008. Bob Pastor of Warilla High School nominated her for the award because of her “empathy, enthusiasm, energy and willingness to take on the ‘big challenges’ and see them through to their end”. Krystle, a Year 12 student at Warilla High School, has worked for the St Vincent de Paul Society as well as the Australian Red Cross. Her work with the Society has included home visitation, social justice advocacy, fundraising for mental health and the 2007 and 2008 Winter and Christmas Appeals.

Australian volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of community service to many areas of society, including community health care, heritage and arts, environment conservation, emergency services, education, social justice and sports. NVW provides a platform to pay tribute to volunteers who donate their time and energy to help others. www.volunteeringaustralia.org website provides information to assist in your celebrations. Please visit the site for free downloads and information.

List your Volunteer Needs www.vinnies.org.au

Let us put your volunteer needs on the Society’s website. Each month more than 50 new people register online with the hope of volunteering for the St Vincent de Paul Society. Countless others access our website seeking volunteering opportunities. We can help put them in touch with the Society’s services where help is needed by having your specific needs on our website. Please contact Kate Scholl in order to utilise this service.

Online Resource

Presentations and papers from the Volunteering Australia 2008 Conference can be found at www. volunteeringaustralia. org. Click on News and Events, then National Conference.

Krystle also expanded her volunteering activities by assisting in the running of the Warilla High School Breakfast Club and the planning and coordinating of the Warilla High/Vinnies ‘Grandparents Day’ celebrations for Seniors’ Week.

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SPIRITUAL REFLECTION

INSPIRED TO DO...

Inspired to Do not Just to Pray

Hopefulness about life and people is an essential badge for a Christian and a Vincentian to wear. It is the deep-down conviction that love is more powerful than hatred; that life is more precious than death; that evil does not triumph over goodness; and above all, that the loving presence of God in us can enable us to do things beyond our ordinary imagining. Early in 2009 is a good time to renew that view of life and of ourselves, conscious that we are living in a world that needs people of the Beatitudes.

Against All Odds

Who among us is not from time to time in need of inspiration and encouragement. And we seem to respond most warmly to instances of people whose positive view of the world and themselves led them to achieve what seemed to be either impossible or highly unlikely. Here are two such people. Rosa Parks (1913-2005), the African-American seamstress whose resoluteness in refusing to give up a bus seat to a white man in 1955 provoked the Montgomery bus boycott, a watershed in the US civil rights movement. She is a much revered figure in the long struggle that has placed a black American in the United States White House this year. She said: “I didn’t not give up my seat because I was tired … I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day ... No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop (1907-1993), was an extraordinary Australian; surgeon, war hero, sportsman; he was described by a biographer as a man of “compassion, courage, steadfastness and hope.” During his time of captivity and forced labour on the Thai-Burma railway, he was a leader who helped many fellow Australians to survive. Among his many qualities, Sir Edward Dunlop possessed a special gift of forgiveness. After the war he said he had lost all hatred when he saw a Japanese POW trampled by a crowd of his colleagues. The man died in his arms as Sir Edward tried to comfort him. Sir Edward said “the memory dwelt with me as a lingering nightmare… I was deeply conscious of the Buddhist belief that all men are equal in the face of suffering and death.”

Have you met in your lifetime such against-the-odds, inspirational figures? What was it in them that inspired you? God of All, We cannot merely pray to you, O God. Therefore we pray to you instead For strength, determination and willpower, To do instead of just to pray, To become instead of merely to wish. (Adapted from Jack Riemer) Happy the gentle…those who hunger and thirst for what is right…the merciful…the peacemakers. (Matthew 5) 30

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NEWS

NEW MISSION & VISION STATEMENTS • UPCOMING EVENTS

OUR MISSION MISSION AND VISION The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.

OUR VISION The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognized as a caring Catholic charity offering “a hand up” to people in need. We do this by respecting their dignity, sharing our hope, and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny.

New Mission and Vision Statement materials

Upcoming Society Events Wollongong Diocese goes 70’s to raise funds Dust of those flares for a fun night of fundraising at the White Waratah Retreat in Picton on Saturday 28th March 2009. Hosted by the Wollongong Diocese, this exciting 70’s themed dinner is a bargain at just $100, which will include canapés, champagne on arrival, buffet style hot and cold dinner, dessert, tea, coffee and soft drinks. Take Two will rock the dance floor with favourite 70’s tunes while a number of raffles and auctions will raise much needed funds to support the Wollongong Diocese many good works. For information contact Lee Hughes on lee.h@svdpwgong.org.au

French’s Forest Host Chinese Banquet Luncheon The 2nd Annual St Vincent de Paul Society French’s Forest Chinese Banquet Luncheon took place on February 22nd 2009 at 12 noon. A popular event in 2008, the luncheon at the Tingha Palace Chinese Restaurant in the North Sydney’s Leagues Club in Cammeray provided good food, entertainment and lucky prizes. Guests enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year and raise important funds to support the French’s Forest Conference.

Matthew Talbot Raceday moves to June

In November 2008, the Society adopted new Mission and Vision statements on a National level. The Mission and Vision statements focus on lay Catholics serving Christ in the poor. They are a simple and confident expression of what the Society stands for. Mission: The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more compassionate and just society. Vision: The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognised as a caring Catholic charity, offering a “hand up” to people in need. We do this by respecting their dignity, sharing our hope, and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny. To this end, posters, prayer cards and magnets featuring the Mission and Vision were created by State Council. If you would like any of these materials please contact Paul Hennessy in the Resource Centre at paul.hennessy@ vinnies.org.au.

Barbara Ryan, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW President, and Brother Dan Stafford, Matthew Talbot Homeless Services.

The popular Matthew Talbot Race Day, which takes place at Rosehill Gardens each May has been moved to June 13th 2009. A fun and value for money day out, this exciting day will raise important funds to support the opening of the Society’s newest Special Work, Vincentian House in late 2009. For information on this not to be missed event contact melissa.martin@vinnies.org.au or call (02) 9568 0220 SUMMER/AUTUMN

VISION

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International Women’s Day • 8 March 2009

VISIT: WWW.VINNIES.ORG.AU OR CALL THE DONATION HOTLINE: 13 18 12.

http://vinnies.org.au/files/NSW/Publications/VisionMagazine/VISION_FEB09_forweb  

http://vinnies.org.au/files/NSW/Publications/VisionMagazine/VISION_FEB09_forweb.pdf

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