CEOs from around Perth unite to turn the light on homelessness
By Natashya Fernandez
CEOs from across the State gathered at the WACA in East Perth last week on Thursday 22 June for the 2017 Vinnies CEO Sleepout to raise money to support Vinnies homeless services as well as raise awareness around the issues surrounding homelessness. This year, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout in WA raised more than $548,341.
The biggest appeal conducted every year and running for its eight year, the Perth event saw some 100 CEOs from across the state pledge their commitment and support to this worthy cause.
With statistics showing on any given night in Australia, particularly at this time of the year, some 105,000 people sleep rough across the country, with around 10,000 of those from WA. Thirty four percent of WA are homeless due to family violence and break down; 44 percent are women.
As a first time participant for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, recently appointed Vinnies CEO, Susan Rooney said that every night there are around 9500 people in WA are experiencing homelessness.
“9500 people in our community will be sleeping on friends and family’s couches, sleeping in overcrowded dwellings, sleeping in cars, tents and worst of all, sleeping on the streets. For me, the most shocking statistic is that 25 percent of those 9500 people are under 18.
“I can only just imagine how exhausting, terrifying and soul destroying it must be to get up in the morning and to have to think about somewhere safe and warm to sleep for that night. Some of the people who use our services have to do that day after day, year after year,” Ms Rooney explained.
She also said that making a difference to the lives of people who are homeless is why so many have gathered for the sleepout, and why many more have come together across the country.
“I must say it’s quite heartening to me as a very new CEO to Vinnies, that so many CEOs and community leaders have taken the time and effort to raise funds for our homelessness services and to advocate and care about people who can’t advocate for themselves.
“The funds that the CEOs and community leaders have raised will help us keep our homeless and our homeless prevention services open and enable us to support people through some of their darkest hours, and to give them some hope into the future.
“We are very grateful for the commitment and support of the participants at the CEO Sleepout, who through their efforts are making a very real difference for the people who are homeless.”
While the evening got underway with speeches and formalities including awards to the top fundraisers such as eighth-year running, Director, Raymond Tan from Tan & Tan Lawyers and Chief Executive Officer – Australian Resorts, Crown Resorts Limited, Barry Felstead who have both raised $36,630 and $123,755 respectively, there was also a heartening documentary from Vinnies about the people they support.
State Manager of homeless services, Gayle Mitchell delved deep into the misconceptions of homelessness and why places like Vinnies’ Tom Fisher House is open throughout the year to support and offer comfort for many who are struggling with homelessness.
In speaking to the participants, she said, “At Vinnies we know how important it is to build a connection and help facilitate change. And, I suppose that’s why nights like this matter so much. You and your support help keep Tom Fisher House open so we can offer people seven nights of safe sleep and respite from the streets.
“And maybe now when people ask you why you participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout you can tell them that homelessness can happen to anyone, and there is no quick fix but everyone can help make a difference to people’s lives,” Ms Mitchell ended.
The 2017 Vinnies CEO Sleepout has seen around 1,479 CEOs from across Australia participate, bringing the national funds to more $5,257,326.