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The first conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Western Australia was formed on 24 July 1865, on the inspiration of a military man, John Gorman.  He had been a student for the priesthood in Maynooth, Ireland, but had left due to ill health and eventually joined the British Army and served in India. He wrote a journal of his voyage to Western Australia aboard the Minden arriving in Perth in October 1851.

Not long after his arrival in Perth, an advertisement in the Perth Gazette and WA Times (forerunner of The West Australian) on 5 September 1865, concerning a Society of the St Vincent de Paul meeting to raise funds for the relief of the poor. Many people attended, and raised a total of £13. The first formal meeting of the Society was held on 8 December 1865, under the chairmanship of John Gorman.

John Gorman was obviously a man of great commitment, and it was his drive and energy that got the conference started so that it maintained its adherence to the principles of the international Society.

He died on 13 April 1872, leaving a wife and six children.