Vinnies soup van volunteer earns prestigious honour

Vinnies soup van volunteer earns prestigious honour
Brendan Rees

For the past 50 years, Greg Munt has been a dedicated volunteer, spending countless hours each week preparing and serving meals for the St Vincent de Paul soup van.

The East Melbourne resident said he gets more out of volunteering than he puts into it.

“For me it’s a reality check – you can lose sight of what’s important, and what’s important is family and friends,” he said.

“It makes you constantly aware of how good people are.”

For his unwavering commitment to helping others, Mr Munt was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours for his “service to the community through social welfare organisations”.

But a humbled Mr Munt conceded he was “embarrassed” with the award, noting “there’s so many other people who are so equal if not more deserving”.

“You don’t do it for the awards and if you look at this community, the Australian community, there is a massive percentage of people who do volunteer work,” he said.


Australia is built on volunteers.


Mr Munt was a founding member of the St Vincent de Paul Society Fitzroy soup van in 1975 after he and a group of friends banded together.

“We approached St Vincent de Paul and got money. They allowed us to operate out of Ozanam House in North Melbourne,” he said.

“We just used our network of friends to get enough people to run the van. We had soup in canisters, we had sandwiches, fruit. Just whoever fronted up we would feed.”

Today, the number of soup vans has grown to 10 with Mr Munt being a volunteer with the Margaret Oats Collingwood soup van since the 2000s.

He said his “life-changing” moment to help others started when he was at university studying engineering in the early ‘70s and had joined a friend in volunteering for the Missionaries of Charity, Fitzroy, which was a drop-in centre for men.

“You can imagine growing up in Beaumaris/Mentone, going to Fitzroy and looking after a home for homeless, mostly alcoholics. It was confronting and different to the way that I was brought up and the things that I saw,” he said.

But reflecting on his journey, Mr Munt said he had met some fabulous people, and that he gets “more out of this than I’ve ever put in”.

“The people that I’ve met over the over the years, both the people that we see and the volunteers I work with, they’ve always provided a reality check for my life.” •

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