St Vincent de Paul Members at Work



From humble beginnings in St Patrick's Church in Sydney's Rocks District, the Society has grown to serve communities right across NSW.

So wherever you are in the state, you’ll find Society members supporting people who are disadvantaged, marginalised or living in poverty. Our members also strive to change community attitudes and work hard to advocate for social justice.

What is a Member?

Members are the backbone of the Society and bring understanding, expertise and compassion to their service and involvement in the Society.

“Spiritual bonds and friendship between members are essential, as is the common mission to help the poor and maginalised. The entire Society is a true and unique worldwide community of Vincentian friends.” The Rule, Part 1, 3.3. 


What do members do?

“You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis. You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of a long term improvement.” Frederic Ozanam.

Members connect with people in their communities to provide:

  • Social connection and companionship
  • Assistance with expenses like transport, food, bills and clothing
  • Referrals to other agencies

Members also get involved in disaster relief, fundraising, and advocating for people experiencing disadvantage.

Members meet regularly in local groups, called Conferences, for spiritual reflection, and to share their experiences. They provide each other with support and friendship.

A core concept members should adhere to is the concept of the 'Hand-Up', as opposed to a 'Hand-Out'. This means members look for ways to help people help themselves, by looking for solutions that encourage them to take control of their lives.


Benefits of Membership

For some Society members, this is a chance to use their skills and experience to give back to the community. For others, membership provides a chance to develop new skills and gain experience in a supportive environment. 

As a member, you'll benefit from: 

  • The satisfaction of helping others
  • Sharing your skills and teaching others
  • Learning new skills, and
  • The sense of community and friend



Visitation is at the heart of the work of our members. Meeting the people we serve face to face offers the opportunity to build relationships with people based on the understanding and respect of social and cultural differences. Members listen with respect  and compassion and discuss how the Society may be able to provide a hand up.


The Conference

Conferences are small groups of members, all of them offering the hand of friendship. A Conference may be established within any community such a parish, a town or a workplace, and it may be centred on any ethnic or social group. Most Conferences respond to calls for assistance from people in the local community.

Conference members meet weekly or fortnightly for spiritual reflection and to share their visitation experiences. Other ways of supporting people or following up are discussed, and news from regional meetings and other information is shared.



The spirituality of the St Vincent de Paul Society is essentially about faith in action. Society members come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, but the Vincentian spirituality shapes their attitudes and actions. Inspired by Frederic Ozanam, who founded the Society with a group of his University friends, Vincentian spirituality is radically inclusive, compassionate, service-oriented and centred on human relationships as an expression of Christian love.


Frequently Asked Questions

Latest members updates

20 June 2024

Celebrating Our Members honoured with the Order Of Australia

The Order of Australia honours Australian citizens and others for outstanding achievement and service. We would like to congratulate our members who have been recognised in the 2024 King's Birthday Honours list and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (OAM), recognising their significant service to the community and social welfare organisations. This is a well-deserved acknowledgment of the significant time and commitment they have dedicated to the work of the Society in NSW and, ultimately, the people we assist.

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19 June 2024

Domestic & Family Violence Financial Assistance

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19 June 2024

Anne Stanfield - Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

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19 June 2024

Life Membership awarded to Ivor Davies

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