Hundreds sing blues after Country Music festival

The St Vincent de Paul Society has said that hundreds of people are left stranded in Tamworth every year after attending the country music festival at the end of January.

The ABC reports that Vinnies' John Picot said that it is approached regularly by about 100 festival-goers every year who find themselves without accommodation, money or food and who are unable to get home.

Picot added that the figures do not include those from other charity organisations in Tamworth such as the Salvation Army or Lifeline.

"People have come to the festival without adequate supplies or money. They run out of money, they have no place to stay, they run out of food. They need help getting home. We have at least 100 people after Tamworth festivals seeking assistance from the society," he said.

Meanwhile, the Society is now better positioned to influence government policy on behalf of the poor with the official opening last Thursday of its national offices near Parliament House in Canberra.

The Society's national president, John Meahan, said the move from Sydney to Canberra brings Australia's largest charity 'close to the ears' of politicians and public servants who can help to eradicate poverty, give fairer treatment to migrants and refugees and improve the health of Australians in urban and rural areas.

"Our 44,000 members work at the coalface of society and we hope that by moving to the Australian political hub we can influence social policy in a professional and balanced way by presenting governments with the cold hard facts," said Mr Meahan.

The Archbishop of Canberra/Goulburn James Carroll blessed the new premises in Thesiger Court, Deakin, saying the Society lives out the love expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.

Archbishop Carroll said the Papal letter mentioned the Society because its work extends love beyond the normal limitation of our families and compatriots to everyone in need.

"The commandment of love - to reach out to the poor, disadvantaged and those in need - operates on a personal and a community level. This is what the St Vincent de Paul Society does, and this is why the Society is mentioned in Deus Caritas Est."

Hundreds sing blues after country festival (ABC New England North West 14/2/06)
Generational change for Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society 10/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society
Country Music Association of Australia

15 Feb 2006