CEOs and community members who slept outside for one of the coldest nights of the year for the Vinnes CEO Sleepout have raised over $9.4 million to support Australians experiencing homelessness. Participants in Sydney gathered at the White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle on June 23, equipped only with a sleeping bag, pillow and a cardboard sheet for the night.
“Vinnies is deeply grateful to the thousands of Australians who supported CEO and community sleepouts across the country,” National President Claire Victory said.
Pfizer executives were among those fundraising, including Anne Harris, Pfizer ANZ Managing Director and six other Pfizer leaders.
“Housing is a human right, yet many Australians do not have access to this basic need” Ms Harris said.
“This year Vinnies’ focus has been about prevention. We heard from a number of people who so generously told their story about how early intervention through Vinnies’ services has kept a roof over their heads and made a significant difference to their own life and that of their family.”
Jack de Groot, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and Anne Harris, Managing Director, Pfizer Australia and New Zealand. Photo: Supplied
Another Pfizer employee Andrew Thirlwell said that “we take things like clean drinking water, food, and shelter for granted. This experience has helped me gain a better understanding of the lived experience of homelessness.”
Currently, Pfizer has raised over $33,000 of their $35,000 goal for the Sleepout.
Sydney politicians also got involved with the event, as Sydney Councillor Linda Scott participated in the Sleepout, raising over $6000.
Manager and Policy research officer for Homelessness NSW Digby Hughes says that raising awareness for homelessness is necessary as the situation for those experiencing homelessness is worsening.
“The situation for rough sleeping in particular, and for homelessness generally, is getting worse by the day” Hughes said.
“We are having more people on the street today than we were having a week ago, and a month ago.”
Homelessness NSW advocates for those in critical need of housing, and supports the delivery of essential services for people who are sleeping rough. Hughes says the demand for public housing is reaching a breaking point, as Homelessness for NSW records there are over 50,000 people waiting to be housed.
“People wait for public housing for up to ten years in many parts of the state” Hughes said.
He supported the Sleepout initiative, saying that it’s “a fantastic program”, and that the event “gets publicity for the issue that wouldn’t always occur”.
Hughes says that the community can further support those experiencing homelessness by volunteering for local organisations. The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is accepting donations until July 31.