11 June 2023

Canberra's CEO Sleepout participants crack hardy as the cold winter winds blow

| Genevieve Jacobs
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four people holding placards

Ambassadors for the 2023 Vinnies CEO Sleepout include Neville Tomkins, Christine Shaw, Lucy Hohnen and Antonia Marzulli. Photo: Claire Sams.

He was fortunate last year with a mild night, but Region’s Michael McGoogan knows this year’s CEO Sleepout won’t be nearly as easy. The frosts are gathering, the temperatures are dropping and the cold, cold concrete is beckoning on 22 June.

“It was almost tropical last year,” he admits of the 8-degree night in 2022. “I know I won’t be that lucky again.

“I’m not looking forward to the cold but it’s just going to breed resilience and that is what we’ll all need a lot more of in the next 12 months.”

Earlier this year, Region won a national Telstra Business Award for building communities and Michael says that key role is one of the motivations for getting involved again.

“Canberra is a community-minded city and the willingness of people to give back is pretty striking in this town,” he says.

“Obviously, the sleepout is only a small gesture given the hardship that the community is facing as economic conditions get tougher. But I really urge anyone to give whatever they can because the pressures on people are getting much, much more serious.”

The CEO Sleepout has been running for a decade and the ACT has an impressive fundraising recipe, despite our relatively small size.

While attention focuses on the industry leaders experiencing something unexpectedly tough, there’s a grim reality behind the fundraising banter.

READ ALSO Chief Justice encourages leaders to ‘pay it forward’ and join Vinnies CEO Sleepout

Every night, thousands of Australians experience homelessness and often in unexpected age groups. Older women and teenagers are both highly vulnerable and single-parent families experience particular stress, often when they are escaping family violence.

Vinnies calls it a “devastating cycle” that can have far-reaching implications for safety, mental health and wellbeing. Children who experience homelessness often have their education significantly disrupted and homelessness exacerbates substance abuse issues.

Canberra’s relative wealth doesn’t make the city immune: in 2022 the CEO Sleepout funded more than $800,000 in services for the ACT and surrounds, including increased staff in the Street to Home program to support more rough sleepers and provide support services outside business hours.

Working with the Night Patrol team, the Street to Home program is extending its work to early evenings and weekends. Night Patrol vehicles have also been replaced with the support of longtime partner Canberra Toyota, and food provided by the Night Patrol has been improved.

Vinnies is also working on new service support programs in regional hubs at Young and the Far South Coast, expanding its reach to those communities.

So as Michael and his fellow sleepers settle down for the night on the cold concrete, spare a thought for those who have few choices and for whom sleeping rough in a car or on a friend’s couch is not optional. It’s a long cold winter and they need our help.

You can donate to Michael and the other ACT CEO Sleepout participants here.

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Shane Vaughan9:54 am 12 Jun 23

I’ve always wondered how many of these CEOs go away and create additional low skilled jobs within their organisations and be part of the solution after the networking and cheque giving PR exercise is done?

Holding signs with a sad face does nothing. What’s the ACT government doing about it? Nothing

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