Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world yet every night over 105,000 people find themselves homeless. Homelessness doesn’t necessarily mean that someone sleeps on the street, it also includes those who stay in boarding houses, government provided accommodation (SAAP) and with friends. Australia has a fairly good social safety net and numerous charitable or organisations that support the homeless. Still, over 16,000 people sleep ‘rough’ – on the street or in improvised dwellings – and this is the most visible sign of homelessness in our society.
I moved to Sydney Australia in 2003 and while studying high school and at the University of New South Wales I’ve always worked in and around the Sydney CBD. A couple years ago when we first setup OpenLearning, we found a small office in an old building near Town Hall station. Over the years, I’ve steadily noticed more and more people sleeping and begging on the streets of Sydney. Earlier this year, My girlfriend and I decided to move to the CBD as well and found an apartment for rent near Town Hall – we now spend almost all our time in the city.
In high school, I had the opportunity to help out with the St Vincent de Paul Night Patrol, which provides a hot meal to the homeless across Sydney every night. So when I heard about the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, I thought it would be a good way to learn more about the problem and try to make a little difference.
The CEO Sleepout requires CEOs to raise funds for the charity by ‘sleeping on the street’ for one night. While we slept outside and it was cold and windy, it was obviously nothing like actually being homeless. No matter how realistic the physical conditions might have been, everyone knew they would go home the next morning while those on the street have little support or hope for the future. With that in mind, the goal of CEO Sleepout is primarily as a fundraiser to support Vinnie’s initiatives for the homeless, which include counselling, support and education.
This year, over 1,000 CEOs nationwide participated in the event and raised over $5.5 million dollars for charity. At the event in Sydney, we also learned about the services Vinnies provides and how else we can help. I was personally moved by the support of over 40 friends and family members, who donated $3,310 to Vinnies for the cause. OpenLearning is just a small company and I was probably the poorest CEO there but with your help we still raised more for charity than many others. Thank you once again for all your support.
I’ve included some pictures from the night below, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments as well 🙂