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Join business, government and community leaders and sleep rough this winter to help Australia’s homeless CANBERRA, JUNE 17, 2010

National Museum of Australia Canberra

Register online at or call 02 6121 2943

President’s message Welcome to the Winter 2010 edition of the Canberra/ Goulburn Central Council News. Firstly, on behalf of the Society, I would like to thank everyone in the community for supporting us during our Doorknock Appeal in February and March. We have received over $270,000 in cash donations. We would also like to thank the CA Brumbies, Mix106.3, WIN Television, Canberra Weekly, and The Canberra Times for helping with the launch and continuous support during the Appeal. In March, the Society’s members, volunteers and staff celebrated the 350th anniversary of the deaths of St Louise de Marillac and St Vincent de Paul. It was a great weekend and opportunity for all to explore and reflect on our Vincentian heritage and mission; to celebrate Eucharist with Archbishop Mark Coleridge and we also discovered some learning and directions for the future. We have another busy period coming up ahead, especially with the roll-out of our national event, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. You can read more about this challenging event on page 4. In May, we will be launching our Winter Appeal; No one should have to know this on 9th May. Whilst many Australians believe the worst of the economic crisis is over, the truth is that for those worst affected, recovery is a long way away. People who were already experiencing hardship have been joined by thousands of individuals and families feeling the brunt of severe financial distress for the first time. This means more people than ever are in need of our assistance. At the same time, we continue to focus on providing services that are desperately important for people affected by a wider range of problems, including domestic violence, drug and alcohol issues, and mental illness. We hope you enjoy this newsletter, thank you for all your support and generous donations. We will continue to work hard to meet and exceed your expectations as a charitable organisation. Evan Brett President, Canberra/Goulburn Central Council

We would love to hear from you, please send all correspondence to: Stephanie Hawkins Communications Officer, Community & Corporate Relations PO Box 642, Mawson ACT 2607

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Marina’s story St Anthony’s celebrated its first anniversary on the 26th March, and a celebration was held at the refuge in Goulburn, with local Liberal member Pru Goward officially cutting the birthday cake. St Anthony’s assists single women with no children who are homeless or at the risk of homelessness, to learn the skills to become independent and overcome their crises. Marina was one of the first women who stayed at the refuge when it opened in March 2009, and she was kind enough to tell us her story. Marina had just left an abusive relationship and was quite emotional at the time. She was placed in hospital due to her depression and was eventually referred to St Anthony’s. Julie came to the hospital at around 11pm that day to pick Marina up and take her to the refuge. Marina found during her three-week stay that St Anthony’s had a personal touch unlike other refuges she has stayed at. When Marina arrived at St Anthony’s, she was presented with her own bedroom, clean sheets, food, clothing and kind support from the staff. Marina now lives in her own house and volunteers at St Anthony’s and other charitable organisations. Marina still comes by the refuge for a cup of coffee and a chat with the staff and women.

Ordinary people helping anyone in need

A day in the life of the Emergency Support Centre (ESC) Our ESC receive on average 80 calls a day, and these are real life situations in Canberra: A young mother was left with a baby just 3 weeks old, facing eviction and owing one month private rent, as well as a disconnection of her electricity service, and in urgent need of food, formula and nappies. A 15 year old boy was unable to live at home due to a parent’s abuse of alcohol, and was homeless, living on the streets, sleeping in friends’ cars or just couch surfing. He has no income, no warm clothing, no prospects of any sort of job, and is losing hope.

Over the past three months 3,700 calls for assistance have been channelled through the ESC to our local Canberra Conferences; 2,500 of those requested assistance for food. We assisted over 110 people with crisis payments and a great number of those were single and were of no fixed address, while others were families with limited financial means to buy food or clothing for their children. Others were seeking assistance with medication and prescriptions they were unable to afford, or even petrol to visit loved ones in hospital, accommodation and bus tickets.

An aged pensioner has their extended family move back in with them after they were evicted from their own home with no income at present. The extended family is not able to contribute towards the extra food and there is an increase in the utility bills and other financial commitments to support the entire family. “It is a great privilege for us to work here in the ESC, where we strive with every call to provide an excellence in the quality of our service to show respect and provide compassion to those seeking assistance with their situation and their lives.” States Lyndsay James, ESC Manager. Picture: Lyndsay James, Call Centre Manager, and Maureen Galvin, Call Centre Assistant working hard.

The centres of the Society In the Canberra/Goulburn Central Council, there are 25 Vinnies Retail Centres in total. Vinnies Retail Centres are an important component for the St Vincent de Paul Society, as they are not only a valuable resource for people to buy quality clothing and other household items at an affordable price, but the surplus from the Vinnies Centres goes directly into funding the work of the Society. Crookwell is a small country town in the Southern Tablelands with a population of 2,100, and the Vinnies Centre in Crookwell is a very successful venture and has a loyal group of 60 volunteers who are enthusiastic and take great pride in their centre. In the past, the volunteers have organised successful fashion parades among other fundraising activities which they are to be congratulated for. Each time the town has an event the ladies have dressed their window accordingly and for the past three years they have taken out the Crookwell Country Festival window competition.

St Vincent de Paul Society – Canberra/Goulburn Central Council Newsletter Winter 2010 Page 3

Rise to the challenge 2010 Vinnies CEO Sleepout

The St Vincent de Paul Society is calling on Canberra’s business, government, and community leaders to register for the 2010 Vinnies CEO Sleepout to raise vital funds and build awareness on the serious issue of homelessness in the Canberra/Goulburn region, and across the nation. The event will be held on 17th June at the National Museum of Australia, in the Garden of Australian Dreams. The Vinnies CEO Sleepout allows participants to experience firsthand for just one night what it is like to be homeless. It will also allow these leaders to be an integral part of a national action to tackle the issues surrounding homelessness.

Everyone knows that winter nights in Canberra are bitterly cold. Not everyone knows that on any one of these cold Canberra nights more than 100 people are sleeping without a roof over their head. Not everyone knows that many of these homeless are families with children.

How will YOU help Vinnies break the cycle of homelessness?

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Ordinary people helping anyone in need

Feedback from last year’s CEOs “It is the best thing I have ever done. A privilege to have participated.” “It was uncomfortable, no personal space, but it was still probably only 1000th of a percent of the anxiety someone doing this for real must feel.” “It gave me a ‘real’ understanding and made me realise how wrong it is that anyone should sleep rough in this country.”

REGISTER NOW If you have what it takes to make a stand on homelessness this Thursday June 17, then register today. Log on to, you can also: > Nominate a business, government, or community leader > Sponsor a registered CEO > Make a direct donation

Last year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout success In 2009, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW held the Vinnies CEO Sleepout at Luna Park in Sydney. The event was a huge success and attracted a number of high profile CEOS including Dick Smith and John Latham from Pfizer, as well as the Real Estate Institute, Fairfax Media, AMP, and QANTAS. 220 CEOs participated in the event, raising $620,000 from over 5,000 individual and corporate donations and received extensive coverage nationally and internationally.

“The one thing I did notice is that it challenges our notions of privacy, which must be confronting on a daily basis for people who don’t have personal spaces to retreat to at night.” “Imagining what it would be like to really be in a situation where I had no choice except to sleep in the street: the physical discomfort, the hopelessness, the downward spiral, the acute vulnerability to both the weather and others, the humiliation of living one’s life in full public view, the stares and comments or perhaps becoming ‘invisible’ to those who would rather ignore the problem.” “To hear first hand experiences from these people was very powerful in hitting home the reality of the severity of being homeless. It has certainly opened my eyes to this problem and I will be getting more involved in helping to find a solution to reduce the number of homeless in our community.”

St Vincent de Paul Society – Canberra/Goulburn Central Council Newsletter Winter 2010 Page 5

Vinnies thanks Brumbies for their support

Housing shortage hits Canberra When Canberra comes to mind, people often think politicians, parliament and power. What does not come to mind is homelessness, housing shortages and poverty. Canberra has the second most expensive housing rental market in Australia and the lowest rental vacancy rate. Low cost accommodation is in short supply with rents for a 2 bedroom unit/townhouse starting from over $300pw. A recent vacancy at the lower end of the market had over 50 written applications. There has been a dramatic increase in applications for public housing during the last financial year. Many of the families who are homeless are affected by poverty which comes from fleeing domestic violence, being a single parent or a refugee, having a disability or chronic health problems. Belinda and her son Jack (15yrs old) were referred to Vinnies by the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service. Belinda had suffered domestic violence from her partner over several years and had already had one period of accommodation in a women’s refuge before returning to her partner. When St Vincent de Paul first became involved, Belinda had been assaulted again by her partner. The police attended and an AVO was issued to the partner. Belinda was supported by Vinnies as she sought alternative accommodation. During this time of looking for accommodation, she was given emotional support and encouragement to deal with the stress and anxiety which was related to the pressure from her partner to drop the charges. This support was provided through weekly meetings which were increased to twice weekly when needed. Referral and advocacy from the Family Support worker resulted in her securing accommodation for herself and her son.

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Vinnies would like to thank the CA Brumbies for their generous support during the 2010 Doorknock Appeal. In February and March this year, we raised over $270,000, which is a fantastic effort from all our volunteers that helped walk through the suburbs of Canberra, knocking on residential doors. The CA Brumbies were also kind enough to allow us to be the game day charity on Friday 26th March, in which our volunteers collected $1,900 at the game, that will go towards the Doorknock Appeal. For the Society in Canberra, Doorknock is the main appeal to raise awareness and funds for its core work, Home Visitation, and has been part of the Society for the last 26 years.

Ordinary people helping anyone in need

Vinnies helps another community organisation The Canberra Police Citizens Youth Club (CPCYC) addresses issues that affect young people in society to reduce the occurrence of youth crime, by providing the police with a positive link to the community. The “Corroboree Kids” is a crime prevention strategy that will enable CPCYC to provide help and activities to children who would not normally have the means to access help or support in their lives. The CPCYC organised an activities afternoon at the Northside Community Centre in Dickson on the 16th April. The children played many games, and there was a BBQ which Vinnies helped cater for. These children do not choose this life but are born into these situations.

Homelessness is a big issue for women and children The St Vincent de Paul Society Family Services team have housed and supported many families in the last month alone. Louise* was sleeping in her car in her friend’s driveway, while her two teenage children were staying with a friend she knew. Louise had just moved to Canberra to escape domestic violence and sexual assault. Margaret* had been living with her two children in a caravan park for several months. Her oldest child was separated from her and living in a youth refuge. She was not coping financially and owed a large amount of money to the caravan park. The average length of stay in our supported accommodation is around 6 months. During their stay, families receive intensive support from a family support worker who visits the family weekly. A support plan is developed with the family which looks at their needs and how they can be addressed. This often includes budgeting, health, life skills and parenting as well as long term housing. The needs of the children are also addressed with a support worker often being provided specifically for the children. Support is given until such time as the family is able to live independently. * Names have been changed

These young indigenous children are the most poor and disadvantaged in our community. Some of the children do not have a birth record, which means they are not enrolled in school, they have no medical/dental attention, and no government assistance because they are not recorded in the system. Some of these children do not have parental care due to various reasons, in which they are left to fend for themselves at a very young age. At Vinnies we are pleased to support the CPCYC.

St Vincent de Paul Society – Canberra/Goulburn Central Council Newsletter Winter 2010 Page 7

No one should have to know this No one should have to know how to keep their whole family warm in winter when there’s not enough money to pay the energy bills. Yet thousands do. This year, we approached some of the clients we know who are experiencing hardship and asked them to share with us what they do to survive on a daily basis.

You can get a storage place for about $300 a month. I was able to live there for awhile – Jen, 33. Unemployed. You drive to the beach about 5am, there’s no one around. You can have a shower in the shower block and get out before anyone comes. Then I go to work from there – Jaime, 31. Living in a car.

$50 can provide warm blankets for homeless people sleeping rough across the Canberra/ Goulburn region. $80 can buy essential groceries for a parent and child for a week. $100 can provide a woman and a child escaping domestic violence with somewhere safe to sleep. $200 can equip an elderly couple living on their own with basic supplies and medication.

We were sleeping in one room to save on heating. Thankfully, Vinnies stepped in. Kar en, 32. Single mo ther of four.

People mistake your stuff for rubbish and throw it out if you aren’t careful. You gotta pack your stuff up about seven, get it out of the way so the garbos don’t pick it up, chuck it in the truck. If you don’t do that – it’s all gone – Pete, 42. Homeless. With your help, we can provide assistance to those struggling to cope on their own, people who had to resort to desperate measures to survive. No one should know a life without hope, but together we can help the thousands that do.

Help us change som eone’s life as they know it. Donate now to the Vinnies Winter Appe al. Call 13 18 12 or visit

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