During the 2019/20 financial year we held several events bringing together experts, the people we assist, and members, volunteers, and staff to discuss key advocacy issues.

The biennial Social Justice Forum highlighted our commitment to action on homelessness and housing, while the annual Rosalie Rendu Forum focused on mental health and wellbeing. In addition to these events, we facilitated the launch of the Poverty and Inequality in Australia report, commissioned by ACOSS and UNSW, at Vincentian House in February 2020.


Holding the biennial Social Justice Forum at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney in September 2019, close to 100 representatives from across the state gathered to discuss the Society’s social justice goals and how to achieve them. In between catching up with friends and meeting fellow Society members from around NSW, participants took part in workshops on topics including raising the rate of Newstart, reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mental health, and wellbeing, and engaging with the media.

We launched our Build Homes, Build Hope advocacy campaign with an expert panel featuring Brian Murnane, Chief Executive Officer of Amelie Housing and Professor Hal Pawson of the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW, who each spoke to the urgent need for more social housing in NSW. Social justice representatives from across the state became the first to lend their signatures to our petition calling on the NSW Government to invest in 5,000 additional social housing units every year for the next 10 years (see Build Homes, Build Hope for more information).

We also launched our new Social Justice Network website which hosts a range of resources on key advocacy issues, including links to the social housing petition and information on engaging with local MPs. These resources equip our members to engage in local advocacy for more equitable communities across NSW.

Professor Hal Pawson from UNSW speaking at the 2019 Social Justice Forum.

Peter McNamara, St Vincent de Paul NSW President, introducing the Build Homes, Build Hope campaign at the 2019 Social Justice Forum.


Taking place at NSW Parliament House to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week in October 2019, the Rosalie Rendu Forum focused on the theme of “Fostering Wellbeing”, exploring the connection between poverty and mental health.

The forum is held annually as an acknowledgment of the contribution made by women in our communities, inspiring leadership among women and promoting awareness of social justice issues. Keynote speakers included Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, and Fay Jackson, General Manager of Inclusion at mental health service Flourish Australia.

Following the keynote addresses from Ms Lourey and Ms Jackson, a panel discussion featuring Society members Zoe Grant and Faith Lam highlighted a range of issues such as the greater awareness and willingness of people to seek treatment for mental illness, the root causes of mental illness and the importance of supportive communities.

The Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women hosted the event and was also among the speakers.

Bronnie Taylor, MLC at the 2019 Rosalie Rendu Forum.

Catherine Lourey, Faith Lam, Zoe Grant and Fay Jackson as part of the panel discussion at the 2019 Rosalie Rendu Forum.