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Media release April 19 2010

Vinnies CEO Sleepout goes national

Following its huge success in Sydney last year, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout goes national on Thursday June 17 2010, when hundreds of CEOs and business leaders will sleep out across Australia. The event, which was launched today by the Federal Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek, as part of Vinnies Winter Appeal, aims to raise awareness about homelessness, and to raise funds for Vinnies homeless services across Australia. Last year in Sydney alone, more than 200 business leaders slept out to raise $620,000, which wildly exceeded expectations. Ms Plibersek said the CEO Sleepout was a fantastic example of private enterprise and the non-government sector uniting for the benefit of the whole community. “Homelessness is everyone’s responsibility – governments, businesses, the service sector and the wider community all have a role in reducing homelessness,” she said. “This terrific initiative by the St Vincent de Paul Society engages business leaders in understanding and helping to address the complex issues surrounding homelessness”. This year the event will be held in Sydney (Luna Park), Canberra (National Museum of Australia), Melbourne (Etihad Stadium), Adelaide (Adelaide Zoo), Perth (WACA), Darwin (The Gardens Oval) and Brisbane (Suncorp Piazza, Southbank) with a target of more than $1 million. Tasmanian CEOs will sleep out at the Melbourne event. Participating CEOS can register on “The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is rapidly gathering a momentum, as evidenced by its national rollout,” the National CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Dr John Falzon, said today. “It captures the real concern in the community about social inequality and an increasing awareness by business that it can have a role in addressing the situation.” “The night is not an easy one,” he said. “Participants literally bed down on a sheet of cardboard on the ground, with only a mug of soup to sustain them, on what is usually one of the coldest nights of the year. Last year it rained non-stop, but still most of those who were there have indicated they will come back again this year.

“The experience of stepping into another person’s shoes like this, to get a tiny sense of what it must be like to have no home, can change the way you think about the world. The business leaders who have chosen to do this say it is literally a life-changing experience.” Dr Falzon said it was especially important for the “big end of town” to understand the issues surrounding homelessness, as they were often the ones who had the power to influence change and make a difference. “Homelessness is a breach of basic human rights,” he said. “It is an insidious problem, the causes of which are many and complex. While the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts the number of homeless people nationally at around 105,000, including 34,000 children, the actual number is almost impossible to quantify. From where we sit at the coal face, we believe the number is probably much higher.” Dr Falzon said all the money raised would go to Vinnies homelessness services including night patrol/soup van services, hostels for men, family services, refuges for women and their children escaping domestic violence, mental health services, and education and recreation facilities offering life skills courses, training and access to medical, legal and financial advice.

. For more information, contact: Marion Frith, Communications Manager, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW on 0417 446 430

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