For the first time, business and community leaders across Australia will unite for a national online sleepout on 18 June to raise essential funds for Vinnies homelessness services.

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout will take place in cars, backyards and on couches across the country as participants join an interactive, live-streamed broadcast through their phones, tablets or computers. The online event will be hosted by television personality Dr Andrew Rochford.

“I’ve seen the difference that Vinnies’ homelessness services make first-hand, and the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is such an important fundraiser to make sure they can continue helping thousands of people every year,” Dr Rochford said.

The 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout raised $7.9 million for Vinnies homelessness services across Australia, which include accommodation; domestic violence refuges; food, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags; counselling and healthcare; and individualised support to address barriers such as debt and unemployment, with the ultimate goal of finding a permanent and safe home.

“It’s great to see Vinnies, and the business and community leaders who participate in the Sleepout, adapt to ensure this year’s event can go ahead in the midst of coronavirus. The onset of a global health crisis means people facing homelessness need that support more than ever,” Dr Rochford said.

In past years the Vinnies CEO Sleepout has comprised several events in major cities across Australia, but in 2020, all participants will join one online event. They are invited to nominate their own sleeping location, such as their car, couch, or outdoors in their backyard.

Each of these locations reflect the reality for many of the 116,000 people experiencing homelessness across the country. Of these, around one in 14 people are ‘sleeping rough’, but many more are hidden from sight behind closed doors and nonetheless unable to find a suitable and safe place to sleep.

This year, participants can also involve their partner and children, helping the whole family to learn more about the growing issue of homelessness, which affects upwards of 116,000 people in Australia.

Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn CEO, Barnie van Wyk, said, “We’re pleased to be able to offer an innovative, online, interactive experience for this year’s CEO Sleepout and looking forward to an event shared with leaders all across the country; physically distant but connected through their dedication to supporting the most vulnerable in their communities.

“Funds raised at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout ensure we can continue running our Night Patrol vans, offering light refreshments and material aid to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Canberra.

“Our Clemente adult education program, run in partnership with Australian Catholic University, and our St Nick’s Young Carers Program also depend on our successful fundraising through events such as the Vinnies CEO Sleepout,” Mr van Wyk said.

“I will be sleeping in my backyard on 18 June, and I hope business and community leaders from all sectors and walks of life will join in to raise money for homelessness services at a time when it’s desperately needed.

“Please register online at www.ceosleepout.org.au.”

30 April 2020