Business Leaders Share Their Personal Reasons For Joining The Vinnies Ceo Sleepout

Tuesday 16 June 2020

This Thursday, business and community leaders around Australia will sleep out for the St Vincent de Paul Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

Every participant is driven to support Vinnies’ mission to end homelessness, but some have very personal reasons for their engagement.

Robert Kelly, CEO of Steadfast Group, will be braving the cold alongside a group of finance and insurance executives on the top floor of the Macquarie Bank Building in Sydney.

Mr Kelly, who reeled in almost $68,000 last year to finish as the highest fundraiser at the Sydney event, was inspired to support Vinnies’ homelessness services because of his own family history.

“As a child I saw my grandfather struggle with alcoholism and homelessness, and gain support from Vinnies at the Matthew Talbot Hostel,” said Mr Kelly.

Dr Caroline Hong, CEO of CH Asia Australia Pty Ltd and Chairman of Investment Opportunities Australia Pty Ltd, has her own story of poverty and homelessness.

Experiencing homelessness as a child in Malaysia following the collapse of her parents’ business, Dr Hong has gone on to enjoy a successful health and business career in Australia.

“No one thinks they’ll end up homeless,” Dr Hong said. “You don’t realise just how fast your circumstances can change until it’s happening to you.

“Having lived without a stable place to sleep as a child, I’m so thankful that organisations like Vinnies are there to support people when they need it most.”

Dr Hong rarely talks about her past but has participated in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for over 10 years and has raised more than $100,000 to support Vinnies’ homelessness services.

“There is a growing percentage of our population getting into hardship through no fault of their own, especially with the recent impact of COVID-19,” said Mr Kelly.

“When many people donate whatever they can – even if it’s not much individually – each contribution adds up. It makes a direct difference to people who need a bed for the night, a good feed and some clean clothes. Most importantly, Vinnies helps provide permanent pathways out of homelessness.”

Vinnies leaders echoed Mr Kelly’s words.

“Without the generosity of those people participating in and sponsoring the Vinnies CEO Sleepout we wouldn’t be able to run the breadth of services we do,” said Jack de Groot, CEO of Vinnies NSW.

“We work with people experiencing homelessness, providing food and material aid to those sleeping rough as well as helping them find secure housing. But we also offer programs to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty and offering pathways out of poverty and homelessness,” he said.

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is a national event occurring this Thursday 18 June 2020 to raise funds for Vinnies services and highlight the issue of homelessness. This year’s event will take place on couches, in cars and backyards across Australia, with participants joining a live-streamed broadcast online.

To donate and watch the live-stream of the event, visit

Media contact: | 0417 446 430