Vinnies denies "sacking" claims

The St Vincent de Paul Society has hit back at claims that seven former volunteers of a Newcastle Vinnies team were "sacked", saying that the volunteers voluntarily quit after refusing to sign new child protection agreements.

In a statement issued yesterday in response to a Sunday Telegraph article, the St Vincent de Paul Society says that the Sydney paper "wrongly presented the facts concerning the 'sacking' of a number of Charlestown volunteer members of the Society".

According to the Vinnies statement, the charity workers were former volunteer members of the Society "who had indeed given many years of service to people in need".

However, as volunteers they were not able to be sacked "as there is no employment relationship".

With respect to their membership of the organisation, "they were required to adhere to the rules and policies of the Society", the statement continues.

According to the Vinnies statement, the seven former members refused to sign "membership renewal" forms including a declaration that the person signing was not prohibited from dealing with children as prescribed under child protection law.

"After many months of negotiation, encouragement, and discussions the seven former members decided not to sign the membership renewal," the Vinnies statement says.

"Their unwillingness to undertake to act in accordance with the Society's rule, policies and procedures was their choice, and their choice alone to no longer be members of the Society."

According to the statement, the policies relate to a range of areas, including volunteer safety, occupational health and safety and training.

Don Richards, one of the men ousted after 40 years of volunteer service, told the Telegraph on Sunday that the Society was asking them to sign an agreement that was "effectively an AWA for volunteers."

Mr Richards claim that of particular issue under the agreement is that the Society's state council will have the power to suspend or deregister a volunteer, and on appeal they would not allow the person to be legally represented.

Vinnies Strongly Rejects Sacking Charity Workers (Vinnies Media Release, 5/2/07 - PDF)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society

Vinnies volunteer crisis over "sackings" (CathNews 5/2/07)
Catholic social justice advocates prominent in honours list (CathNews, 29/1/07)
Vinnies says "no" to Govt money (CathNews, 6/4/06)


6 Feb 2007