(Australian Associated Press)
Thousands of business leaders across Australia will sleep outside and experience a night on the streets at the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout in June to raise money to battle homelessness.
The 2018 event was launched nationally on Wednesday morning with organisers hopeful of raising $6.4 million.
Founder Bernie Fehon said it was one of the biggest fundraising events in Australia.
“I think it’s very important on many levels,” he told AAP at the Sydney launch in Rozelle.
Now into its thirteenth year, the event has raised $36.5 million since 2006, and Mr Fehon said it had also helped change the way executives approached the problem of homelessness.
“It makes for more compassionate chief executives,” he said.
Some of the executives swapping their warm beds for the cold concrete on June 21 include CH Asia Australia’s Caroline Hong and Linda Scott from City of Sydney.
Ms Hong has been doing the sleepout since 2010 and said it held special importance because of her own experience with homelessness.
“I experienced homelessness when I was 12, for a short period”.
She said the event had helped change her own perception of homeless people.
“The biggest change is really demystifying and really changing the perception for other people,” Ms Hong said.
“We need to acknowledge their existence, I think that’s very important. And not to judge them”.
Ms Scott said for those still thinking of donating or registering it was a wonderful chance for people to help.
“As you walk through the city of Sydney, or any part of Australia, it is hard to avoid people who are sleeping rough,” she said.
“It’s really important if you can find a few dollars to help support the great work Vinnies do.”
Sleepouts will be held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and a number of regional hubs on June 21.
Now into its twelfth year, the nation-wide event raised $5.6 million in 2017.