Change starts here

On Thursday 23 June, more than 150 CEOs, including business and community leaders, ‘slept out’ on a few pieces of cardboard at The Timber Yard in Port Melbourne as part of our annual fundraising event, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

Participating in the 2022 Vinnies CEO Sleepout, after an absence of two years due to COVID, it was heart-warming to see our supporters back…and back with a vengeance, raising almost $1.8 million in support of our homelessness programs and services such as Ozanam House, Vinnies Soup Vans and our ‘core’ conference work. 

This year’s theme was Change Starts Here and participants got plenty of opportunities to hear from people who spoke about their lives changing for the better thanks to our programs and services. Participants also watched a number of videos highlighting personal stories of homelessness, and heard from ‘Garry’, who spoke in person about living in his car for a time in 2017 after a mental health breakdown.  

Garry sought help from VincentCare, a subsidiary of the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria specialising in housing and homelessness services, where he was immediately placed into crisis accommodation at Ozanam House, then supported with a range of wrap-around health and mental health services for a number of months that gradually got him back on his feet. 

Today, Garry says he is in great place, working, and studying for a masters in horticulture. Although he moved out of Ozanam House into permanent accommodation, Garry is still very much part of the community as he runs the gardening volunteer program there. 

There was a panel with leading voices in the homelessness and housing space including VincentCare’s Danny Tilkeridis. 

During the evening, the participants made their ‘beds’ on the concrete floor with only a couple of sheets of cardboard as ‘cushioning’, had a simple meal of soup and bread and were invited to ‘meet the frontline’ teams who volunteer at the Vinnies Soup Van or are part of VincentCare’s crisis teams as part of our Change Starts With… a Conversation session. 

“This was my first Vinnies CEO Sleepout and the first in-person event we’ve been able to have for two years after going online during the pandemic,” St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria's CEO Julia Cambage said. “It’s only one night for us, but the money raised will make a huge difference for thousands of people experiencing homelessness every night. It will fund 48 extended stay beds at Ozanam House and support three mobile kitchens, among other services.

“We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received from the business and community leaders this year, probably because rental stress and the cost of living crisis is front and centre in everyone’s mind. We’re so appreciative of the funds raised, these will allow us to keep helping vulnerable Victorians who are being hit really hard by everything going on at the moment.

The evening was also an opportunity to honour Vedran Drakulic OAM who was once again Victoria – and national’s – highest fundraiser, raising $349,218. Sadly, Vedran will be packing away his sleeping bag and CEO Sleepout beanie after eight years and contributing more than $1.1 million towards the running of our services and programs. 

Vedran also presented the annual Vinnies Good Business Award to IGA Retailers Community Chest Victoria for their continuous endeavours to do Good Works in their communities. IGA's team regularly volunteer their time and resources to help us provide assistance to vulnerable groups in our community.

The Woodards Real Estate team was recognised as the highest fundraising team with $159,605. The team at Woodards, led by John Piccolo, have been a great supporter of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout and the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria. Over the years their support has included the purchase of soup vans to assist our work.

Vinnies Victoria extend our sincere thanks to everyone who participated and were involved in making this a memorable event and look forward to continuing our partnerships to ensure that change truly does start here.

Here are some of our stories:

The new Vinnies Inner City Soup Van hub was launched in May 2022 and will serve 400,000 meals annually to people experiencing homelessness or struggling to afford food.

Meet the team at our Inner City Soup Van hub

Ozanam House provides support and accommodation to people in need. Everyone has a different story and Ozanam House helps to initiate a positive change in their lives.

Meet James and Rama at Ozanam House

Escaping family violence with her two children, Jazmin extends her thanks to Vinnies for the help and support she received including accommodation, furniture and vouchers.

Meet Jazmin and how Vinnies supported her

Our volunteer James Tudehope takes us on a challenging journey in Greater Dandenong where 40% of the population are from groups deemed ‘most at risk of homelessness’. 

Meet James and how Vinnies are helping people in need
*Following the passing of Linda, we dedicate this video in her memory

Registrations for the 2023 Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday 22 June are now open. Find out more at ceosleepout.org.au