13 December 2021

'Passionate' Vinnies CEO to leave after five years

| Sally Hopman
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Man with cardboard

Have bed (cardboard), will sleep out – outgoing Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn CEO Barnie van Wyk makes his way into one of the many CEO Sleepouts which he helped organise to raise funds for Vinnies programs. Photo: Supplied.

In his last week as CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society of Canberra/Goulburn, Barnie van Wyk has praised the work of more than 2300 volunteers, members and employees who have helped the charity provide care for the needs of the community.

Mr van Wyk, who has been at Vinnies’ local helm for the past five years, will leave the society today (8 October).

Announcing the news, Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn president John Feint said Barnie is an outstanding and passionate leader and has served the St Vincent de Paul Society of Canberra/Goulburn with great commitment.

“Under Barnie’s leadership, the society has become a stronger, more capable, community-based and governance-focused organisation,” Mr Feint said.

He explained that Mr van Wyk’s achievements over the five years included growing the society’s revenue base to $30 million a year to ensure its ongoing viability and establishing a number of new services to help the growing needs of Canberra’s most vulnerable.

They included the Community Inclusion Program at Oaks Estate, designed to help people make the best lifestyle choices, gain access to support services and help shape and influence their community.

He also praised the partnership in 2019 between Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn, Catholic Care and the ACT Government to establish Axial homes and support services to 20 people in need in the Canberra community.

But it was the annual Vinnies Sleepout that was to become the CEO’s favourite event, Mr Feint said.

“Always one to lead by example, he saw it as his duty and an opportunity to raise awareness of the harsh realities of homelessness with the broader Canberra community.

“A serial CEO Sleepout participant, Barnie raised $107,000 over the last five Sleepout events.

“Tirelessly promoting the event with local media as well as business, community and government leaders, Barnie helped increase CEO Sleepout fundraising income by 60 per cent over the past five years, making the ACT the highest fundraising income per capita state in the nation at seven times the national average.”

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The 2021 Sleepout broke the fundraising record with $1 million – the highest amount raised in the event’s 12-year history.

Mr van Wyk was also credited with creating a greener Vinnies, with the implementation of solar power initiatives to cut emissions.

This venture will deliver annual electricity cost savings of about $60,000 for at least 10 years – reducing Vinnies’ carbon footprint to about 300 tonnes per annum. Also, based on suitability, about two-thirds of Vinnies’ 27 shops in the region have been selected for solar installation.

“Barnie’s dynamic leadership also enabled the society to cultivate new relationships with a wide range of local businesses, government stakeholders and community organisations leading to a significant expansion in Vinnies’ corporate and donor support base and ensuring the viability of its 18 homelessness and social impact programs,” Mr Feint said.

When asked for a highlight of his five-year term as CEO, Mr van Wyk said it was the passion and commitment shown by everyone involved in the organisation.

“The Vinnies team spares no effort in ensuring that anyone who looks to us for help receives the very best care and support, whether they are assisted at Vinnies outreach services like Street to Home or Night Patrol, local Vinnies drop-in centres or any of our Vinnies shops,” he said.

The current Deputy CEO of Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn, Michelle Colefax, has been appointed Acting CEO.

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