1 June 2017

Canberra's elite sleep on the street for charity

| David Tuckwell
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St Vincent de Paul has launched its 2017 CEO Sleepout, aimed at educating the general public about poverty while raising money for Vinnie’s night vans.

As part of this effort, on 22 June at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra’s CEOs will sleep on the street in cardboard boxes for one night.

The Sleepout takes place during winter, when the nights are coldest.

As part of the Sleepout, which aims to replicate how Canberra’s homeless sleep, participants will raise funds for Vinnie’s vans and, it is hoped, raise the profile of homelessness as a political issue.

“It introduces fundraising firepower by putting the impetus for fundraising in the hands of CEOs, which means these people can tap into their networks — which can be significant,” said Tim Kirk, the owner of Clonakilla wines and one of the ACT’s most influential winemakers.

“Why do I take part? Because I think homelessness continues to be a major problem in affluent cities like Canberra where it continues to be a hidden problem.

“I’m happy to spend one night out sleeping out in the freezing cold to help do something about it.”

For CEOs in the public sector, feelings were similar.

“Homelessness in Australia is such an important issue – the most recent figures from Homelessness Australia puts the number of homeless Australians at over 100,000, and that figure is from 2011,” said Greg Hood, CEO of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.”

“It’s especially heartbreaking that around 27% of homeless Australians are under 19 years old.”

“I’m sure the event will be a great success, with many of our community’s most prominent CEOs contributing their time and resources towards breaking the cycle of homelessness. I’m glad to be taking part.”

As well as business leaders and APS executives, some of the territory’s lawmakers thought similarly.

“Canberra is a wonderful place to live – if you’re on a good wage. If you’re not, it can be a mongrel,” said Mark Parton MLA, the Shadow Minister for Housing.

“The housing affordability crisis in Canberra continues to push more people into severe housing stress and many of them end up homeless.”

“This is just one night and it can’t possibly recreate for us the loss of belonging, the lack of security and the despair of a sustained period of homelessness, but it will help us to understand.”

The event, Vinnie’s hopes, will raise half a million dollars, all of which will go into its Canberra arm.

The activities the money will be spent on include night patrol, food service, emergency relief, and its university partnership with ACU.

Visit https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/events/act-sleepout/ for further information.

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