The ninth annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout is set to break records, with leading members of the Brisbane business community sleeping under the Story Bridge to raise awareness for homelessness. So far $467,000 has already been raised for the charity group.
According to St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland CEO Peter Maher, Brisbane is one of the most expensive cities in Australia, and more than 9,000 people experience homelessness every night.
"Over 9,700 Brisbane residents are homeless and in my mind, this is 9700 too many," says Maher.
"Behind each statistic is the story of a fellow Australian someone just like you and me who has experienced the extreme isolation and desperation of homelessness."
This year's Sleepout has attracted some big names in business including Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, founder of Merlo Coffee Dean Merlo, and CEO of ERM Power Jon Stretch who is Queensland's highest fundraiser.
"I'm thrilled to see a record number of leaders in our community participating this year," says Maher.
"The funds raised make a real difference to the lives of those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness."
The Sleepout aims to bring to light some daunting facts. Queensland has the third highest homeless population in the country, and more than 44,000 Queenslanders sought assistance last year from homelessness services like Vinnies.
Last year's Sleepout raised over $1 million for Vinnies to go toward paying for accommodation for those at risk of homelessness.
The Sleepout in Queensland has specifically set aside funds to develop a program to expand support for women and children experiencing family violence.
Maher says the Sleepout is a big wakeup call for those participating about how difficult homelessness can be.
"Sleeping under the Story Bridge will be a real reality check, and an experience of what it can be like to be homeless," says Maher.
Last year Vinnies provided assistance to 265,000 people, or one in every 17 Queenslanders.
To donate visit www.ceosleepout.org.au
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