New ACT Vinnies President says housing unaffordability a ‘national emergency’

Incoming ACT President for St Vincent de Paul Society, Mr Brian Stacey

The incoming ACT St Vincent de Paul president has described Australia’s rise in the cost of living and the current housing unaffordability as both a crisis and a national emergency.

Brian Stacey, an anthropologist who has dedicated much of his professional career to working with Indigenous people, has highlighted one of his main priorities as raising awareness in the ACT of those experiencing financial hardships.

Housing unaffordability is no longer an individual problem for the poor or disadvantaged. The problem is now widespread.

“It’s been described as a crisis, but I think it’s a national emergency,” Mr Stacey said.

“Particularly in Queensland but also in the ACT, many can’t afford the rising cost of living and high rentals are just making it impossible for some to make ends meet. 

“Although we hear news reports from the media about the housing issue, in Canberra, a jurisdiction which is one of the most affluent in Australia, it is often unseen. The issue is hidden for many, but you’ll see it when you visit some of the suburbs.”

Archbishop Christopher Prowse with some of the members of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia

An expert in Indigenous affairs, Mr Stacey, is finishing up his role as a professor in practice with the First Nations portfolio at ANU to dedicate more time and energy to his new role in Vinnies. 

He encouraged parishioners to think about joining their local Vinnies, saying that one of the main reasons he joined was a realisation that salvation is integrally linked with taking practical action to support the poor. 

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“I think Vinnies is an excellent instrument, a perfect vehicle for taking practical action on a day-to-day basis, and also, it’s just been a great opportunity for me. It’s been the best decision I’ve made in my life – the wonderful people I’ve met, and being involved has deepened my faith.”

Besides increasing community awareness, Mr Stacey said pursuing a more diverse membership would be a priority of his leadership.

“It would be great to see more young people involved,” he said. 

“It’s important to understand that the society is not just about giving emergency relief. It’s also about trying to make a more just and compassionate society.

“We have, for example, a social justice committee and forums which make submissions to governments about issues like housing,” Mr Stacey said. 

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