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Now in it’s 12th year here in Western Australia, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout continues to be relevant by helping to focus attention on the complex issues surrounding homelessness, poverty and social disadvantage.

With a focus on social housing, a panel discussion on the night included Susan Rooney, Vinnies WA CEO, Gladys Demissie, Vinnies WA State President, Mike Rowe, Director General, Department of Communities and Andrew Roberts, CEO of ABN Group. Panellists discussed many of the challenges currently faced by both the building industry and State Government, however concluded that along with CEO participants, collectively shared the vision that zero homelessness in Western Australia was the way forward.

Host Mark Gibson with panellists (from left) Gladys Demissie (Vinnies WA State President) Susan Rooney (Vinnies WA CEO), Mike Rowe (Director General, Department of Communities), Andrew Roberts (CEO ABN Group)

Putting forward the State Government’s position on addressing homelessness and social housing stock levels during the discussion, Mike Rowe reiterated the twin objectives from Housing Minister John Carey to make it his priority to build more homes and reduce the 17,000 people currently on the wait-list for social housing. But it was ABN Group’s Andrew Roberts who led the call for commitment for change, not only from the State Government, but from everyone, including the private and public sectors as well.

“The State Government has got to have a goal, it’s got to pull everyone together, all the Government departments, it’s got to involve land, it’s got to involve finance, it’s got to involve construction. It’s got to have a vision that in 7 or 10 or 15 years time, whatever that time is, we’ve got a goal of zero homelessness.” Mr Roberts said.

“We are voted the tenth best city in the world. Is it okay that we have 9,000 people being homeless? We don’t go out and promote we are the best city in the world when we have 9,000 homeless people. So the question is what do we do? Part of that is being here tonight, but we all have to choose to do something.”

The combined effort of Vinnies CEO Sleepout participants has so far reached the fundraising target of over $800,000. Funds raised from this special event each year go towards Vinnies homelessness services such as Passages Youth Engagement Hubs, Vinnies Tom Fisher House, our Housing Plus program, and the work done through the Vinnies Emergency Assistance Program which last financial year prevented over 65,000 people from their hardship escalating into homelessness.

The 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout was an indication of the powerful wave of support and incredible generosity from the WA business calling an end to homelessness.

Vivien Yap, Ray White Dalkeith Claremont, Raymond Tan, Tan & Tan Lawyers, Lonnie Bossi, Crown Perth CEO

Passages Youth Engagement Hubs provide a safe and supportive environment to help young people who are experiencing homelessness and other complex issues. It is a joint venture between Rotary Club of Perth and Vinnies WA.

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