Helping Homeless in Ballina

Monday 21 December 2020

‘Tis the holiday season and the temperature – and the surf – is up on the NSW far north coast. But the great outdoors isn’t so wonderful if you’re homeless and sleeping rough through no fault of your own.

With beautiful beaches and the picturesque Richmond River, Ballina is a hugely popular playground. Yet on any night more than 500 people are either homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness (Census 2016 figures).

People on society’s margins can be young or not-so, male or female, some with young children. They might sleep outdoors in the dunes, the parks, even in doorways – or in their cars or couch-surf in already crowded households.

Vinnies has just opened Mary’s Place, a weekday drop-in service in central Ballina offering light meals, bathrooms, computers, phone charging, medical and nursing care, legal and housing support, and psychological and counselling services – all for free.

Next door is Harmony House, a three-bedroom house for people adjusting to life in the community after doing it tough.


Vinnies helps people recover their dignity. To start rebuilding their lives through gaining self-esteem and the respect of the broader community. What we’re doing in Ballina we’re also doing in Tweed Heads (Fred’s Place) and Coffs Harbour (Pete’s Place).

Vinnies is dedicated to establishing ‘Good Works’ in every corner of NSW.

Mary’s Place staff members Leanne Gilchrist and Bryan Jamison with SAE solar installers Mitch Lucas and Apiata Noema. SAE donated a 6.48kW system to the Vinnies homes service in Ballina.