OUR IMPACT 2020/21


Housing is more than just four walls and a roof. A secure place to live is paramount to improving the conditions and outcomes for people experiencing hardship. With stability in housing people can plan beyond one day at a time and look after their health, education, employment and relationships. Our service delivery is grounded in the belief that everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

On any given night in NSW, more than 37,000 people go to bed without a secure place to sleep. Homelessness encompasses much more than people sleeping rough on the street; thousands of vulnerable children and adults live in overcrowded dwellings, sleep in cars and on couches, or remain in unsafe environments due to a lack of viable alternatives. 

Our Homelessness and Housing team works to deliver long-term outcomes for the people we assist. Across the Vinnies Services directorate, we assisted 5,100 people through our Specialised Homelessness Services and a further 8,750 people at our drop-in day centres over the course of the 2020/21 financial year.  

With housing playing an important role in combatting the spread of the coronavirus, our staff supported more than 1,200 people to secure permanent accommodation. Additionally, 2,700 people were assisted to maintain their tenancy, ensuring that they did not become homeless during a global pandemic. 

We also completed the construction of 502 units as part of the NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF). Developed over a number of years to provide housing for vulnerable people – waiting up to ten years in some instances – the housing-first approach taken by the SAHF program housed 753 tenants during the year at sites in Albury, Burraneer, Campbelltown, Cardiff, Dubbo, Jordan Springs, Katoomba, Lilyfield, Maitland, Merrylands, Penrith and South Albury. 


In April, Pete’s Place in Coffs Harbour celebrated the opening of its expanded facilities, making the drop-in centre for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness a more holistic service.



Barry called Temora home for much of his life. 

Born and bred in the Riverina town located five hours from Sydney, the Vietnam veteran moved around Australia after fulfilling his national service before returning to settle down on the eve of retirement. 

Spending the past 13 years re-establishing roots in the community while living in the private rental market, Barry was handed a rude shock in the wake of his landlord selling the house he had come to know as his home. 

“I went through all the real estate agents in Temora and there was only one place with two bedrooms for $270 per week,” said Barry. 

“I’m on an age pension of $540 a fortnight which makes that sort of cost out of my league –that was the only place available in the whole town.” 

Seeking alternative accommodation down the South Coast only to come up against steeper prices – “$320 for a one-bedroom unit” – a call to Veteran Affairs in his time of need led to a lifeline from Vinnies. 

Offered a place to stay at Edel Quinn, a crisis accommodation and case management service predominantly supporting men at risk or experiencing homelessness in the Wagga Wagga region, the shock of being priced out of his own hometown made real the housing crisis faced by thousands of people living on low incomes. 

Accommodation is so scarce; I couldn’t believe it.

“If it wasn’t for St Vincent de Paul I wouldn’t have a roof over my head or anywhere to sleep. 

“The greatest worry when you’re renting is ‘will I still be here in ten years time’ because as you get older, slower and weaker you’ve got to turn around and pack all the furniture up again.  

“There’s nothing worse than packing up and moving from one place to the next – it’s very depressing and expensive.” 

Currently working with the case management team at Edel Quinn to find a new place to live, Barry is looking forward to a future where he can plan beyond one day at a time. 

“Vinnies have been wonderful – I get three meals a day, my own room, the TV room where I can have a cup of tea – I’m fortunate that such a place like this exists. 

“I’ve got all my own furniture in storage here in Wagga, hopefully when I get out of here I can get it out and put it in permanent accommodation.” 


During the pandemic, rates of domestic and family violence have increased, leaving many women and children in vulnerable positions due to widespread messaging for people to stay at home. In response to these challenges, we have worked tirelessly to ensure support can be accessed at any time. 

The Society supported 2,415 women and children experiencing domestic and family violence over the past year. Across the state, our network of physical refuges and outreach support services helped women and children to rebuild their lives in caring and supportive environments. 

Along with providing immediate assistance with crisis accommodation, food, clothing and trauma-informed counselling specifically tailored to adults and children of varying ages, our case workers remain in contact over the long-term to help the people we assist secure and maintain housing so that they can live independently. 


At at a more detailed report on our domestic violence services and their effects on women and children’s lives throughout the year.



The Society operates more than 25 crisis and transitional accommodation services as part of its Vinnies Services directorate to address the varying needs of single men and women, families, older women, and young people. In addition to delivering a range of on-site services, outreach support is offered throughout the wider community to those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

With the on-going impacts of COVID-19 affecting many of our accommodation centres throughout the year, we were forced to adapt the way we support the people we assist. In many cases we were unable to meet with people face-to-face, resulting in service being delivered through video-conferencing systems, while essential supplies were distributed by contactless drop-offs. 

Among the many challenges to arise over the past year, the influx of people from metropolitan areas moving to regional parts of the state has resulted in increased demand for assistance from our support services. With the cost of renting rising at a dramatic rate and low-income earners being priced out of local communities due to a shortage of affordable properties, our accommodation services in regional areas such as Newcastle, Wollongong and Wagga Wagga have been tested in their capacity to meet the demand for assistance. 

One of the great achievements during this difficult period was the Society’s involvement in the NSW Government’s “Together Home” program which saw rough sleepers housed in stable accommodation and assisted with wrap-around support. With rates of rough sleeping and homelessness on the rise prior to the onset of the pandemic, this investment will allow vulnerable people to get back on their feet and improve health and social outcomes for the collective benefit of the greater community. 


The Society’s residential services provide hundreds of people with fresh and nutritious meals every day.


Phil Dawber is a resident at John Purcell House, the Society’s residential accommodation for men in Nowra.  

“Life was very hard… It was cold, no warmth in life. On my own, just me and my dog. Living like that I just seemed to withdraw more and more from social gatherings, meetings, talking with people.

“I started getting a lot of health issues living that way and not eating – when you do eat it’s rubbish. I turned to alcohol; alcohol became the third person in my life – it was myself, my dog and my alcohol. I was very, very sickly all the time.

“Lonely, very lonely. I used to do what’s called ‘people shoppin’ – I’d sit in a car in a carpark or on a chair somewhere and watch people. Watch them with their families and think ‘how good would that be to have a family like that? I wonder what they’re doing while they’re out today – looking for something new to buy from that electrical shop they just went into.

“I used to dream about having a life like that. Today I know I can have that – a lot of work – but I can have that, I‘ve just got some health issues to get over.

“JPH [John Purcell House] has got me here which was like turning around and seeing a castle, being asked to live in a castle. And the warmth was here – I wasn’t cold anymore – I had a room with a bed and people making meals for me – do you know what that’s like? Wow.

“I can’t describe that in words, the feeling, it’s all about feelings. The feeling I had inside when I was offered a bed, support by other human beings who wanted to stand next to me and wanted to help me without getting anything back… When I was offered this it just turned everything around.

“They take me to all my appointments and make sure I get to doctors and things. When I’m nervous they take the phone off me and finish the call if I can’t talk. All this has only come through JPH. I would never have found these people, these sources, I’d still be up in the caves if it hadn’t have been for JPH.

“They put their hand out and I took it.”