What does the Vinnies CEO Sleepout mean for homelessness?

This year the Vinnies CEO Sleepout turns 12 years old and is set to be the biggest and most significant yet, with over 350 CEOs sleeping out in Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground this Thursday.

Sydney is the most unaffordable city in Australia with the greatest number of people experiencing homelessness, according to St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot, who will be participating for the first time.

“As homelessness continues to increase, largely due to the escalating costs of rental properties, there has never been a more crucial time to shine a light on the effects of the housing crisis and the work being done by the not-for-profit sector to support those who are falling through the cracks as governments continue to turn a blind eye,” says Mr de Groot.

“Very few people are unaffected by this housing crisis, whether it’s a son or daughter locked out of buying their first home, or much more significantly, a family facing a rental eviction and being unable to afford other properties in their area.”

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is the biggest night of the year for the Society. Not just because of the significant levels of funding the event generates for frontline services (over $35 million across the country in 11 years), but also through the facts about homelessness and insights into peoples’ struggles that some of Australia’s major leaders and change-makers are exposed to.

“The experience of being there is priceless and can change the perspectives and attitudes of all who attend. The money we raise from one uncomfortable night on a damp cricket pitch goes towards the services we offer people across the state who are experiencing homelessness, or who are at risk of homelessness.

“Over 360 CEOs and executives have registered for this year’s Sleepout, up from 304 last year. We’re also set our fundraising target higher to $2.3 million in NSW.”

CEOs will get a glimpse into not only the physical realities for those sleeping rough through the cold, winter nights but they will also learn how people find themselves experiencing homelessness and just how hard it is to break the cycle. A Virtual Reality room will run throughout the night, showing different scenarios related to this year’s theme of ‘homelessness doesn’t have a postcode’ to drive home the message that homelessness really can happen to anyone, in any suburb.

Sleeping rough is just the tip of the iceberg, with countless others experiencing homelessness sleeping in friend’s houses, on floors, in share houses, and huddled in cold cars. Over 100,000 people find themselves in this situation every night and there could be many more we don’t know about, who are too ashamed or scared to come forward and seek help.

“CEOs at the Sleepout will gain insight into why early intervention is crucial to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place and how to sustain people as they try to return to a regular life. They need housing and they need services,” says Mr de Groot.

Media contact:  Phyllis Sakinofsky | Phyllis.sakinofsky@vinnies.org.au | 0417 446 430