Although Australia is known as the "lucky country" and has a high standard of living compared to most other countries in the world, homelessness is also a reality here.
According to the latest Census of 2011, 0,5% of the population is homeless, (Australia has 21 million inhabitants) with just over 105 thousand people sleeping rough, or in boarding houses, caravans or shelters for the homeless.
To raise awareness of homelessness, the Managing Director of "Tactical Solutions", Bernard Fehon, organized a gala dinner to raise funds for the local "Vinnies" (St.Vincent de Paul Society). Inspired by school sleepouts attended by his children, he engaged business leaders to support homeless people, by organizing a sleepout to raise funds, on the 21st June 2006 at the Sydney Olympic Parks.
In 2010 the event went nationwide and attracted 700 CEO's in the 7 main cities of Australia, raising 2,9 million dollars. In 2012 over 1000 business leaders participated, raising over $5,3 million.
This year the CEO sleepout event takes place on Thursday the 20th June, around the whole country, with 1112 CEO's already enrolled and donations of $2,750 million made to date.
Over the last 6 years this annual event has raised over $13million dollars nationwide.
|CEO's sleepout under cardboard boxes|
In Perth the CEO sleepout was first held in 2010 when 99 businessmen braved the cold to raise $474,185.
In 2012, the CEO sleepout was held for the third time at the WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association grounds). With a temperature of 9 degrees Centigrades, 108 participants were given a humble meal of soup and bread, a cup of tea and a cardboard to sleep under. They raised $822,704 that year.
WA's richest man, Andrew Forrest, Governor-elect and lawyer, Malcolm McCusker, and
WA opposition leader, Eric Ripper were among those who slept in a sleeping bag under a cardboard.
|Andrew Forrest (WA's richest man) arrives with his sleeping bag|
During the night the participants were bombarded with a soundtrack with street noises, sirens, etc to make sure the CEO's slept rough just like people who sleep on the streets, to illustrate how tough life is for the 2000 homeless people of Perth.
Every year more and more leaders are participating and more money is being raised.
"Vinnies" provides the following services to the homeless community - crisis accommodation, domestic violence support, soup van, budget counselling, legal advice and cooking skills classes.
The largest cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence, mainly affecting women and children. Other causes are, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, relationship breakdowns.
If you would like to support the CEO sleepout, donations can be made online to this cause.
Even if just for one night, sleeping rough cannot be easy for these high power men and women, and I don't know if I would have the courage to participate in this event. But after reading about the great services that "Vinnies" provides to the homeless, I will certainly donate to this event. Let's hope that sometime in the next few years homelessness can be eradicated.
What do you think about this sort of event? Is something similar organized in your country?