4 August 2023

'We're here to help': The Triple H – Homelessness Week Expo brings service providers together in Wagga

| Chris Roe
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Raymond Smith supports veterans through ‘Veterans’ Wheel To A Better Life’. Photo: Chris Roe.

With rental stress and homelessness on the rise, support agencies from across the Riverina have converged on Wagga’s Victory Memorial Gardens for the Triple H – Homelessness Week Expo.

40-year Army veteran Ray Smith works with former servicemen and women doing it tough and helps to coordinate the event in Wagga each year.

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“We’re all different agencies that take part in this and it’s about reaching out to people that are actually homeless or destitute or even people who are struggling to pay the rent or are dealing with mental health issues, because that’s a big one with people becoming homeless,” he said.

“We’ve got to remember that this is something that can happen to anyone from any walk of life all of a sudden they are down on their luck, they go through a divorce and they just can’t pick themselves up.

“But the message is: we’re here to help.”

Homelessness Week 2023 runs from Monday 7 August to Sunday 13 August with the theme “It’s time to end homelessness”. Photo: Supplied.

Homelessness Week is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the impact of homelessness and to put forward solutions needed to end homelessness.

Homelessness Week 2023 begins on Monday 7 August to Sunday 13 August and the theme is simple: “It’s time to end homelessness”.

Support services and housing agencies in Wagga and across the Riverina have seen a spike in the number of people reaching out for help over the last five years as cost-of-living pressures have made things increasingly tough.

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Ray says the event offers a focal point for the community to see all the services that are available, but he says it’s not a one-off collaboration.

“All the businesses involved with this, come to meetings every third month and we sit down and share what we’re doing, what’s going on with the community and so on and we also travel around the homeless camps on Fridays and check on people,” he said.

The Triple H – Homelessness Week Expo will today (4 August) include the regular Friday Wellways Homelessness BBQ and Ray hopes that the community takes the opportunity to come down for a yarn and to see the help that exists.

“At the expo this year we have a bus that will travel around and pick people up and bring them down for a meal and a cup of coffee and just the chance to have conversations with everyone,” he said.

“Homelessness can impact everyone and there are so many people here who can provide the support to get people back on their feet.”

Wilks Park on the Murrumbidgee River has historically served as a refuge of last resort for Wagga citizens finding themselves homeless - it is hoped housing support funding will contribute to assisting those who find themselves here. Photo: WikiCamps.

Wilks Park campground in North Wagga has served as a refuge of last resort for Wagga citizens finding themselves homeless. Photo: WikiCamps.

Among the providers at the Triple H – Homelessness Week Expo are the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, Argyle Housing, Health NSW, Department of Family and Community Services, Human Services, Wellways, Legal Aid NSW, Relationships Australia, Sisters Housing, Finance NSW, GEO Group Australia, Directions Health, Tumut Regional Family Services, Intereach, Wagga Family Support, Justice NSW, Work It Out, Pathways Murrumbidgee, St Vincent De Paul and Uniting Care.

Today’s event runs from 10 am to 12 pm at the Victory Memorial Gardens, Baylis and Morrow Streets, Wagga Wagga.

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