CHAMPION COLUMN | Homelessness here is beyond crisis point

In Fowler we're over-represented with disadvantaged people. Mental health, disability, unemployment, relationship breakdowns, substance abuse, gambling addiction and, particularly, domestic violence play a significant role with respect to homelessness. It's disproportionate in our community.

Tracy Phillips, of Bonnie Support Services, a remarkable organisation here, said: "Women escaping domestic and family violence are struggling to find permanent, affordable housing. Our society has a serious division between those with housing and those without."

She says the only real answer to the crisis is more social housing. Our local service-providers are struggling to keep up. Nevertheless, they do a fantastic job.

Pastor David Delany, of Fairfield Salvos, runs great programs, like Soup Kitchen 473. The Salvos run Moneycare to help those struggling with finances. The Good Samaritan Aid Society works with many homeless here. Their Food Angels provide weekly hampers. Feeding Heart is another of their programs, giving nutritious meals to homeless in Liverpool and Fairfield, thanks to Bishop Mari Emmanuel and his team at the St Shimun and St Marys Church. Wattle Grove Lions do inspiring work supporting women and children escaping violence. They've partnered with Masterton Homes to build crisis accommodation. We're a wealthy country and homelessness should be completely unacceptable here.