Updated: May 29, 2020
By KIM VUGA
FEBRUARY 5, 2020
St Vincent de Paul is yet another supposedly trusted not-for-profit charity organisation that was founded in 1833 run by the Catholic church to service the poor and assist those suffering from poverty. The Society currently operates in 153 countries and has more than 800,000 members.
The St Vincent de Paul Society was established in Australia in 1854 to assist the poor after the Victorian Gold Rush and then also set up the SVP orphanage in South Melbourne.
Today the St Vincent de Paul Society states in their mission statement that the St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ and the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.
Their website states they are supporting drought affected communities and also advertises the ‘Vinnies Bushfire Appeal’.
St Vincent de Paul has recently come under fire along with other charities for its failings to hand over Bushfire donations received by the public, with elected leaders of bushfire affected towns lashing out at the Australian charities for their failure to release funds and give the money to the many victims.
The St Vincent De Paul’s NSW CEO Jack de Groot spoke to 7News at the time when hundreds of Australians had already lost their homes saying, he understood the anger and was willing to meet with the NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who invited charity bosses to visit fire ravaged areas.
So far, as at January 23, 2020 St Vincent de Paul had raised $12.5m. To date, St Vincent's de Paul have distributed $3.8 M to people that have been affected by the bushfires in QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC & SA. This figure doesn't include the huge volumes of food, water, clothing, toiletries, bedding and other essential that Vinnies members have been providing within their community since the fires began in September 2019.
When researching the St Vincent de Paul Society, it was evident that they appear somewhat more organised as an organisation as opposed to the Red Cross. Also, what was encouraging, was finding that St Vincent de Paul does not take administration costs out of any monies donated, effectively guaranteeing that every cent donated, 100% is given back to those in need.
The only real evidence of any concern with the charity which took place a decade ago that is noteworthy, is that the St Vincent De Paul Society had suspended its New South Wales board after years of complaints of bullying from within the charity.
It is apparent that perhaps that ten years ago the sacking of the board was a major wakeup call within St Vincent de Paul, whereby it seems that the chief executive Mr Falzon got it right at the time when he said.
" The culture shift has taken the board's focus off the disadvantaged people it was supposed to be helping."
"In order to be true to why we exist, we need to ensure that any structures that exist are there at the service of the people and not the other way around."
The statements above is what all of us would expect, a focus on the disadvantaged people that need the help and services in place to help those who need assistance the most.
At this point in time there doesn’t appear to be any major mismanagement from the administration since. We exhausted all research available to us to see if there was any evidence of gross mismanagement. However, we have been unable to find any further questionable practices.
Where St Vincent de Paul appears to be honouring their agreement to disperse the money to the bushfire victims, albeit in a rather slow manner, what is a concern is the level of salary that their executives are on is extremely excessive for a 'charity,' if the (3 year old) job description and salary below is anything to go by.
Michael Hicborn, president of The Lepanto Institute has been investigating and reporting on charitable organisations for years, he truly hits the nail on the head when he says,
"The real heart of the problem is that organizations like Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services have transformed charity into a profitable industry. When these groups complain that donations are down, it is because they have salaries with benefits packages they have to pay to employees who ostensibly work in aid for the poor.
Such work used to be done by mendicant orders who put the salvation of souls first, assistance to the poor second and themselves very last. Saints like Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Vincent de Paul, Mother Theresa and many others practiced the most severe forms of penance and mortification, living off mere scraps of food, clothing and shelter. But the CEOs and highest paid employees of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services all make well over $150,000 a year ... in the name of helping the poor."
The St Vincent de Paul notably has many branches within the organisation, St Vinnies the charitable arm of its organisation has no doubt suffered from dwindled donations in recent years because of the large numbers of clergy sex abuse cases reported within the Catholic Church.
Love Australia Or Leave Party will be watching and will be keep an eye on St Vincent's de Paul to make sure that donations made in regards to the Australian Bushfire appeal is distributed timely and all monies donated have been spent by the organisation as St Vinnies has promised to the Australian public.
For now, St Vinnies should be afforded the benefit of the doubt that all monies will be passed on. Should it come to pass that the full amount raised is not passed on to the very people it was raised for, then Love Australia or Leave Party will be asking why?