Fyshwick CEOs and business leaders will be trading their working gear for sleeping bags, and comfy beds for a few layers of cardboard in a carpark in Collie Street as local businesses join Vinnies to support this year’s CEO Sleepout on 17 June.
The annual event run by the St Vincent de Paul Society aims to raise funds to support programs that address the national plight of homelessness, clothing, food insecurity and education. While many of Canberra’s CEOs and community leaders this year will be sleeping out at the National Arboretum, Vinnies is also encouraging participants to sleep in their car, on their couch or in their backyard and watch the event via livestream.
“When we first mooted the idea of a CEO Sleepout in Fyshwick a number of our members just leapt at it and said ‘how can we help?’,” Fyshwick Business Association President Rob Evans said.
“In spite of Canberra’s reputation as an affluent city, census data shows more than 1500 ACT residents experience a stretch of homelessness, with almost one quarter aged 14-24.
“Here in Fyshwick, we know there are a number of people sleeping rough so it’s a real challenge that is right on our doorstep. We are quickly coming up to the coldest time of the year, and in this time of COVID uncertainty, things will be at their hardest for some more than others in our precinct.”
CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn, Barnie van Wyk said bringing the physical sleepout back after a hiatus last year because of COVID was a good reminder that homelessness did exist in the ACT and surrounding region.
“Homeless is not always visible. It is almost like we hide poverty well in Canberra,” Mr van Wyk said.
“People don’t understand poverty, they think ‘if it’s not in my backyard it’s not a problem’. It is only when you have that personal experience that you can relate.”
With a mean daily minimum temperature of 1.3 degrees recorded in June 2020, Fyshwick business leaders spending the night in the carpark of Dirty Jane’s (behind Domayne) on Collie Street will get a reality check about the conditions faced by people sleeping rough.
“We are really grateful to Dirty Jane’s for making their venue available so we can raise much-needed funds to support Vinnies in their important work. And we are putting the call out for more participants and donations. Every contribution helps,” Mr Evans said.
Dealer Principal of Canberra Toyota, Mirko Milic, who is lining up for his 10th CEO Sleepout, encouraged local business leaders to join the Fyshwick Business team or donate to other Sleepers.
“I’ve supported Vinnies for many years now and it’s great a great fundraiser whilst also building strong awareness of the homeless problem with the greater community,” Mr Milic said.
The Fyshwick Business CEO Sleepout will take place on Thursday 17 June, at Dirty Jane’s, 80 Collie Street.
Media inquiries: Jane Seaborn 0414 829 282