CEOs sleep rough for homelessness

"I'm in the business of getting people into houses; it's our responsibility to support the homeless"

CEOs sleep rough for homelessness


By Rebecca Pike

Chief executives from aggregators, banks and financial services firms slept out in the cold last week to raise money for charity.

The Vinnies CEO sleepout took place in 11 locations across the country last month to fight homelessness.

Nearly 1,500 CEOs took part, from firms including lenders mortgage insurance provider Genworth, Loan Market, Canstar,  McGrath and GetCapital, as well as individual branches from lenders like QBE, ANZ, Westpac and CBA.

The events included focus groups and interviews with homeless people to raise awareness of the real issues they face every day.

In Sydney, the event took place over one of the longest nights of the year, 21 June.

It was at this event that Loan Market CEO Sam White took part for his sixth year running.

White said the yearly fundraiser started for him after a visit to homeless men’s hospital Matthew Talbot Centre in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

The night in Sydney has so far raised more than $1.8m, with events across the country adding up to well over $6.6m.

White said it was a “humbling experience”, adding that the fact so many Australians have to sleep rough every night was “shocking”.

He said, “It's just one night for me but there are thousands of Aussies who have no place to call home each night.

“I’m in the business of getting people into houses, it's our responsibility to support the homeless and that's why events like this to raise funds and awareness are so important.

“A statistic which shocks me is that there are 40,000 children in our country that do not have a regular home to grow up in. This is a community problem and I hope together, we are able to solve this devastating issue.”

Also in Sydney was Jamie Osborn, from GetCapital, who took part for the first time.

He said, “The actual sleeping out is only part of the night; Vinnies does a really good job.

“It was really interesting and at the same time confronting and eye-opening to the issues they’re facing, which are probably not what I expected.

“The themes that came up, there was no one there complaining about lack of food or shelter, it was things like loneliness and being disconnected and shame. It’s much more psychological problems than physical problems.

“It’s one of those issues that should be solvable. We have got more than 110,000 people on the streets sleeping every night, which seems like something we should be able to solve.

“I think for us I’d like to make a bigger contribution both financially and with our business in the coming years. One of the observations was that financial services was a bit under-represented really.”

Bernie Fehon, OAM at Vinnies, said, “Even after the thirteenth Vinnies CEO Sleepout there’s still much more work to do. Homelessness is getting worse, making this event and others like it more important than ever.

“If we are to tackle the issue it’s critical to engage different sectors, from government and non-profits to academia and industry. Business leaders in Sydney met face-to-face with people who have experienced homelessness, listened to their stories, and heard about the amazing work that Vinnies does to support them.”

In NSW alone, homelessness increased by 37% between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, affecting one in every 200 people in the State.

You can still donate to Vinnies CEO Sleepout by visiting



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