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The 12th Vinnies CEO Sleepout was held for the first time at Optus Stadium Thursday 24 June 2021, with the venue and Matagarup bridge awash with blue to acknowledge the event.  Hosted by Mark Gibson, CEO participants were reminded that they would be sleeping out on one of the longest nights of the year with an expected overnight forecast of 3 degrees, but also how their efforts in giving up one night of their comforts, can actually help change the lives of others.

With a focus on social housing, a panel discussion which included Susan Rooney, Vinnies WA CEO, Gladys Demissie, Vinnies WA State President, Andrew Roberts, CEO of ABN Group and Mike Rowe, Director General, Department of Communities, saw panellists and CEO participants conclude that sharing the vision collectively for zero homelessness in Western Australia was the way forward.

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 waitlist 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.”

Participants heard how homelessness was increasing in Western Australia, but were also asked to reflect on changing their perceptions, and use their influence as leaders in the community to continue focussing the attention on the complex issues surrounding homelessness, poverty and social disadvantage.

The combined effort of Vinnies CEO Sleepout participants has so far reached the fundraising target of over $800,000 which is still climbing. 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.

For the 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout, last night was an indication of the powerful wave of support and incredible generosity from the WA business calling an end to homelessness.(From left) Mike Rowe, Director General Dept of Communities, Susan Rooney Vinnies WA CEO, Gail McGowan, Director General Dept Lands, Planning & Heritage, Tiffany Allen, Construction Training Fund

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

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.