Vinnies receives $2 million from Microsoft

The St Vincent de Paul Society yesterday received a $2 million software donation from Microsoft Australia in a handover event at Vinnies' Sydney headquarters at Lewisham.

A statement released earlier this week said that the donation will assist the Society to better share information across its 40,000 members and volunteers and to enhance its information technology infrastructure.

"Part of a wider program of organisational improvement, the software will be used to address the needs of the Society in vital areas like finance, fundraising and people management," it said. "In particular, it will be a major cog in the development of the Society's information system, known as the Good Works Information System, GWIS."

Microsoft Australia Citizenship Director Sarah Hatcher presented the donation to the John Meahan, the Society's National President. Ms Hatcher complimented the Society for its focus on using technology to support its work for people in need.

She said: "The volunteer contribution of St Vincent de Paul Society in the community over the past 150 years is very significant and our people at Microsoft are excited to be a part of this into the future."

"At Microsoft we take great pride in being able to help Australian businesses, charities, communities and governments capitalise on the opportunities presented through technology," said Ms Hatcher.

Me Meehan said: "We are in the process of very significant change to ensure it can continue its mission of providing hope, dignity and relief to people in crisis into the future.

"The Society recognises the importance of sharing and using information strategically to more effectively support its core work and at the same time meet government and community expectations of transparency and accountability.

The Good Works Information System is a development of the Society in NSW / ACT to support all its activities and financial reporting. The system is being provided and implemented by Atigon Pty Ltd, and Aztech Pty Ltd, who supported the donation submission to Microsoft Australia.

Microsoft Australia's donation has been given under the auspices of the Unlimited Potential Program, a Microsoft initiative designed to help people and organisations access technology and develop technology skills through community based initiatives.

Meanwhile Vinnies Queensland reports that families living in rural areas are doing it extremely tough with more than 60% of Queensland currently drought declared despite recent rain.

The Society is finding demand for services in rural centres and coastal areas has increased because people are deserting the bush. The Society provides comfort and friendship as well as financial and material assistance.

Rockhampton Diocesan President, Mick Reidy, said people in the country are very proud and often don't ask for help. "Vinnies conferences are a place where people living with the drought can come and have a cup of tea and talk and get support. Most of the welfare distributed in the country is given to itinerants," he said.

But welfare costs have markedly increased in built-up areas because of the drought. "The migration of people into coastal towns is causing big problems there. There's no jobs left in the west because it's like a desert so workers move to the coast where demand for our services is huge," Mr Reidy said.

Microsoft's $2 million software donation to the Society (St Vincent de Paul Society, NSW/ACT 5/7/05)
Some rain brings little drought relief - Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society, Queensland 5/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society
Microsoft | Unlimited Potential Program
Atigon | Aztech

Church joins rally to end poverty (CathNews 5/7/05)
Vinnies continues to argue case for bottom 10% (CathNews 9/6/05)

'Serious social crisis' in West (Catholic Weekly 10/7/05)

7 Jul 2005