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Thousands of CEOs prepare to sleep rough for Vinnies Sleepout

Over 1,500 executives will sleep out in the cold in a bid to raise money and awareness for Australia’s homeless

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s annual Sleepout will welcome over 1,500 CEOs across Australia tonight in a bid to support people experiencing homelessness.

Since its start in 2006, Vinnies CEO Sleepout has become a nationally successful event, which has gained the support of executives and government officials. With each participant’s fundraising efforts, the event has raised more than $5.2 million.

Vinnies Victoria CEO, Sue Cattermole, said the event would be a valuable experience to inspire influential leaders and unpack complex social and economic issues.

“If we don’t pool our energy now to address the causes of poverty and proactively alleviate crisis, more and more people will end up experiencing homelessness – which is an absolute tragedy,” Cattermole said.

“We are so grateful for the enormous investments of personal time and energy these business and community leaders have made to support our charity.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are over 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness. Of these 60 per cent are under the age of 35, 44 per cent are women and 13 per cent are under the age of 12.

In addition to raising money for critical services and programs, the Sleepout event is a chance for CEOs across all industries to gain a better understanding of the crisis.

Founder of the Sleepout, Bernard Fehon – who was awarded an OAM this week for his services to the community – said: “It’s fantastic to see so many joining this cause in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout’s thirteenth year.

“Donations and sponsorships are as important as ever.”

A study conducted by the Conversation found that those who participated in the survey had taken steps to become better leaders and contribute more to the cause.

“After the sleepout, we added an employee support program. Any employee can call this anonymous hotline and get free support — marital stress, mental stress, health disorders. We pay for it,” Greg Taylor, executive director, Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure, told the Conversation.

The Sleepout will see executives from Google and Fujitsu, as well as the Deputy Premier of NSW, John Barilaro, and Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Tania Mihailuk, will join.

Nick Reade, Chief Executive at BankSA, is at the top of the leader board as the CEO who’s raised the most funds so far. Reade has been the highest fundraiser for the past four years and so far he’s raised over $165,000 for this year’s Sleepout.

“I truly believe we need to act when it comes to doing something about homelessness,” Reade said.

Last year participants raised $5.6 million which resulted in 1,949,673 individual support programs, more than 689,000 beds and over 1,590,000 meals. So far this year, Vinnies has raised over $5.2 million of their $6,420,000 goal.

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