An Outreach Community

St Vincent de Paul Society

Camberwell, Deepdene Balwyn and Surrey Hills Wattle Park Conferences

Our three parishes are part of (‘Conferences’) of the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria.

Both parish ‘Vinnies’ groups respond to calls from people in need in their parishes by providing food, clothing, utilities and other forms of assistance. The Camberwell and Deepdene/Balwyn Conferences also respond to people in Prahran, St Kilda, South Melbourne, Richmond, Fitzroy and Carlton.

Membership of the St Vincent de Paul Society provides parishioners with opportunities to live the gospel message in variety of ways, the most ongoing of these including:

  • visiting people in their homes in the parish area and in inner suburbs, to help find the most appropriate response to the person’s or family’s needs;
  • working as a volunteer in the Hawthorn and East Kew Vinnies Centres, which provide furniture, clothing and household goods to families and people who are in need;
  • packing and delivering food hampers for needy families at Christmas;
  • providing financial assistance to twin conferences in the Philippines, India and Burma;
  • providing administrative support at the Society’s central office by way of assisting with mail outs and receiving calls for assistance at the State Call Centre.
Becoming Involved

Vinnies groups at both parishes are always looking for volunteers to assist with one or more of the society’s activities. This involvement can be matched with volunteers’ availability (once a year to many times a week) and interests. Interested parishioners are encouraged to contact the Parish Office (9816 9291). Parish staff will provide the contact details of the Vinnies’ President at each parish.

Social Justice

Over many years, the Deepdene & Balwyn Social Justice Group has generated interest and action in a number of ongoing social justice activities in the parish. In its specified Terms Of Reference,  the purpose and objectives of the group include to:

  • support and enhance the Outreach Pillar of the parish
  • foster among parishioners an increased knowledge of Catholic Social Teaching• support parishioners in the application of Catholic Social Teaching to current societal issues, their lives and the life of the parish
  • cooperate with other parish groups and groups or organisations outside the parish on matters on matters of mutual interest
  • promote the bi-annual Social Justice Statements of the Australian Catholic Bishops.

In both 2018 and 2019, the Social Justice Group organised a series of seminars on ‘Catholic Social Teaching and Action’ under the title of the John Hassett Memorial Social Justice Series. John Hassett was a longtime Deepdene parishioner whose legal career, along with his Catholic faith, gave rise to his abiding interest and commitment to social justice, inclusive of his roles as Chair of the Catholic Archdiocesan Commission for Justice, Development and Peace and member of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. John died on 5 September, 2018.

Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Group

In 1978, a parishioner willed her home in Abercrombie Street, Balwyn to the Parish of Deepdene. Over the next four decades, this property hosted some 40 refugee families from 17 overseas countries.

In 2004, the Deepdene Parish Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Group was formed to continue the parish involvement with the settlement of families in the house. By 2014, this house had reached the end of its natural life, but the commitment to people seeking asylum and refuge continued. In 2015, two new townhouses were built in Balwyn and a new partnership began with CatholicCare to provide transitional housing for asylum seekers and refugees. And so the benefit of the original bequest continues to flow.

Across the Archdiocese, CatholicCare, Jesuit Social Services and MacKillop Family Services work in partnership to support asylum seekers who are living in the community. Our Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Group keeps track of the initiatives of these organisations and supports their advocacy and outreach programs. The group is also a strong supporter of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.

Our Partnership with Villa Maria Catholic Homes

Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) is a Catholic not-for-profit organisation that delivers high quality support to older people and people with disability, and to their families and carers. Their services include residential aged care, affordable housing, retirement living, disability services and specialist education provision for children and adults with disability. VMCH manages the Barnsbury Retirement Village in Deepdene.

During 2018, VMCH signed a long-term lease on the parish’s former All Hallows school site in Brenbeal Street, and in 2019 the site became the new home to St Paul’s College. St Paul’s is a Catholic specialist P–12 school for students with a wide range of intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities, complex medical needs, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Also in 2019, VMCH opened a new Opportunity Shop in Whitehorse Road Balwyn, around the corner from St Paul’s College. The shop specialises in selling children’s items – clothes, toys, books and accessories – with all profits directed to supporting St Paul’s.

Becoming Involved
Parishioners seeking further information and/or involvement in outreach activities across our parishes are encouraged to contact the Parish Office on 9816 9291.