They may have come from a long history of secrecy and mystery, but the Ballarat Freemasons want you to know they are out there helping in practical ways on the street.
Buninyong Freemasons Lodge has presented UnitingCare Ballarat with a donation worth $2000, including $300 worth of bedding.
"It's better than a cheque handover," freemason Ron Fleming said, referring to the doonas and covers given to UnitingCare housing co-ordinator Warwick Davison on Monday afternoon.
The donation has continued 50 years of support of UnitingCare from the freemasons. The recent provision of the invaluable items is timely given the region's current homelessness crisis.
"A lot of the time, when people come into (transitional housing), they might only have the clothes they walk in with," Mr Davison said.
"What we're going to do with these ones is they will go out through our transitional housing program, short to medium-term housing to get (people) grounded, get supports in, get you back on your feet, and then move out into private rental or community housing."
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Mr Davison is keen to get the message out anyone can experience homelessness.
"It could be you, me, anyone really," Mr Davison said.
"We see people who have just had relationship breakdowns, or lost work. Due to a series of unfortunate incidents, they have ended up coming to us.
"There is no particular stereotype; there is no one particular cohort. Everyone thinks of the homeless person being the person sleeping rough. That's only seven per cent of the population. The balance is mainly made up of families. There are huge portions of the community that don't even walk in our doors. They're staying on their sister's floor with their three kids."
Mr Davison supports the view many factors are contribuing to the current homelessness epidemic.
"The affordability of housing and the private rental market (are key causes)," he said. "The rents have gone through the roof. If someone's on a Centrelink payment, that hasn't kept pace with (the cost of rent).
"The demand as well (is greater). If you get one house that's affordable on the market and all of a sudden you have 30, 40, 50 people applying for it and you're competing with them. That's why people fall into the homelessness system. It's not by choice."
The community work of the freemasons is important, Mr Fleming said; "The work of freemasonry is charity, to actually help a friend or brother in time of need. That might be giving of time, that might be giving of money to assist somebody in the general community."
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