THE 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout participants battled to keep warm in temperatures as low as 2 degrees. But despite the conditions, morale was high with many CEOs choosing to stay awake and share their experience and seek more funds through their social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Ms Jo Laverty from ABC radio was the MC and assisting in presenting the participants with an overview of the issues around homelessness in our Canberra Community. The formal proceedings included a presentation from Michael Loebenstein CEO of National Film and Sound Archive which featured black and white film footage of ‘A Place to Live’ a documentary first made in 1946 which examines the housing conditions of the working class at that time and the complicated nature of homelessness.
The 100 participating CEOs arrived at the National Film and Sound Archive bringing nothing but a sleeping bag, given a bowl of soup and a bread roll, and after being provided with three pieces of cardboard, selected a place to sleep. Then it was time for the CEOs to crawl into their sleeping bags and experience what it is like for thousands of people around Australia who do not have a roof over their heads.
Paul Trezise CEO St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn says “Improving access to safe, secure, affordable and appropriately-located housing means better outcomes in health, education, employment and community inclusion. Canberra participants have so far raised over $362,000 and donations are received up to 31st August 2014. It is never too late to do something about homelessness; by donating to the CEO Sleepout you are helping us break the cycle of homelessness in the Canberra region”.
At 5.00am weary participants were woken and reflecting on their overnight experience, most participants agreed that their perceptions of homelessness had been greatly challenged.
So would participants get involved in the CEO Sleepout next year?
“Absolutely,” said Ms Kathryn Campbell, Secretary of the Department of Human Services. “I can’t think of a better way to get a reality check about how lucky I am and do something positive to change the situation around homelessness in Canberra.”
People can still donate by visiting www.ceosleepout.org.au.