Hills Shire local Peter McIntyre is one of the state’s top bosses and is considered among the nation’s most influential engineers but this month he’ll swap the comfort of an air conditioned office for the streets of Sydney, as he joins hundreds of his business peers to brave the cold as part of the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
On the night of Thursday, June 19, the managing director of TransGrid, one of the nation’s largest electricity networks, will don a beanie and warm socks instead of a business suit, all for a good cause.
“I’ve taken part in the Sleepout the past couple of years and have found it to be an incredibly rewarding and quite humbling experience,” Mr McIntyre said.
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is an annual event held right across Australia with CEOs and senior business leaders experiencing what it is like to be homeless for one night in winter.
The goal is to help the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) raise awareness of the real facts of homelessness and to also provide much-needed funds to help those who sleep rough each night.
Mr McIntyre said his Sleepout experiences have been a real eye-opener and he did not hesitate in participating again.
“It’s just one night out in the elements but I have met quite a few homeless people during these events, which give you a clear perspective on what they go through and what causes their situation,” he said.
“I met one person who had been through numerous homes as a child, another who had suffered domestic violence and one who lost everything when his business collapsed.
“I see the Sleepout as an opportunity to raise awareness of a very significant and serious issue affecting this country.”
Last year’s event raised over $5 million, which has helped fund several new programs.
And since its inception, the annual event has raised more than $19 million in support of services for the homeless across Australia.
The facts about homelessness:
- There are 105,237 people who are officially reported as homeless every night across Australia; this represents an 8 per cent increase since the 2006 Census.
- The most common reasons are cited as financial difficulties, accommodation issues, domestic and health (Homelessness NSW).
- More than 17,000 Australian children under the age of 12 have no home. A further 10,900 young people aged 12 to 18 are homeless; most are estranged from their families.
- Most families experiencing homelessness comprise women and their children escaping domestic and family violence.
- People experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer from severe mental health issues than the rest of the population. Living on the streets can trigger and exacerbate mental illness.