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Why today’s CEO Sleep Out is so important

Samara Gentle

258 children* in the ACT have no place to call home.

To think in such an affluent and thriving city like Canberra that there are 258 children experiencing homelessness before their thirteenth birthday, is heartbreaking.

Over 100 of Canberra’s business, government and community leaders will come together tonight at Questacon to raise vital funds for Vinnies, an organisation at the forefront of preventing and combatting homelessness in the ACT.

This will be the seventh year of the CEO Sleepout in Canberra and it’s had resounding support from women in executive positions across our city.

“I was first motivated by the Sleepout because I thought this was something I could do that would have a real impact,” shared Louise Curtis (pictured), CEO of Lollypotz and who has been participating since 2012. “I had heard the figures in relation to the numbers of women and children who were homeless in Canberra and I thought I could make a difference to at least one person’s life.”

We hear all too often about how living on the fringe of society is isolating. How often do we stop to talk to someone that is doing it tough?

At Vinnies there are over a thousand volunteers who break down that isolation and start the conversation. 300 of them are the Vinnies Night Patrol volunteers. Night Patrol is one of the many Vinnies programs that is run thanks to the funds raised through the CEO Sleepout.

The Night Patrol program not only provides a warm drink, sandwich, and material aid but also provides conversation and companionship. Our volunteers are trained to know when to listen and when to offer linkages to services to help people in need.

“I live next to Glebe Park and walk a lot around the park and the city. I therefore have a lot of homeless neighbours which makes their situation very real to me and I would like to make some contribution to assist where I can,” said Dorte Ekelund, Director-General of the Environment and Planning Directorate.

Dorte first participated in the CEO Sleepout in 2015 raising an impressive $9,905.

“Last year when I slept out (for the first time), I felt pretty ordinary by the early morning and during the next day. I got about three hours sleep and don’t think I got any deep restorative REM sleep. A combination of the hard concrete with only a thin layer of cardboard, the freezing cold and wind, and a serious snorer next to me were conspiring – I am sure my productivity the next day at work was questionable. People seriously can’t hold down a job without a home.”

Maryanne Gore, CEO of Project Lighting is the longest standing participant of the Canberra Vinnies CEO Sleepout with 2016 being her seventh year, “My organisation can’t do anything without the effort of our great crew of employees – in turn, they couldn’t effectively serve our customers if they didn’t have stable housing.”

“So, I want there to be services available when people have challenges that threaten their equilibrium whether that be through mental or physical health problems, drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, family conflict and violence or the myriad other reasons why people find themselves on the slide into homelessness.”

You can head to the website and see where your CEO is on the leader board or donate online.

*2011 Census on Population and Housing


Samara Gentle

Samara is a Canberra based freelance makeup artist who specialises in bridal and event makeup but loves the creativity of fashion and editorial. She has a passion for sharing her pro knowledge and seeing other women embrace makeup to help share their personal style. More about the Author

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