Tonight, Thursday 21 June, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) CEO, Mr Neil Willmett, will sleep out on the longest night of the year on the cold, hard concrete of Brisbane’s Powerhouse as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout — an annual event raising much needed funds and awareness to address homelessness in Australia.
For the QAIHC CEO, it is one night of discomfort, but for more than 116,000 Australians, including more than 22,000 Queenslanders, homelessness is a constant reality.
Mr Willmett is striving to raise a minimum of $5,000 to help the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland (Vinnies) provide support to people in crisis.
“I am proud to participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. As the CEO of QAIHC, I lead an organisation whose work has a positive impact on the most vulnerable.
“Every night in Brisbane around 300 people sleep rough in parks, under bridges, in laneways, car parks and abandoned buildings. Across the whole of Queensland, the homeless population is in the thousands. Homelessness can have profound and ongoing effects on people and their health and wellbeing.
“It is well known that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in the homeless population. Across Australia, approximately 20% of people who access specialist homelessness services identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander,” said Mr Willmett.
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland CEO Peter Maher said the issue of homelessness is far more widespread than most people think.
“The issue is very real for many people — one in eight Queenslanders live below the poverty line and most Australians are just two pay days away from being without a secure place to live.
“The Sleepout raises awareness of the harsh realities and relentless daily challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness — real people who are no different from you and me.
“The fact that 116,000 Australians have no place to call home is devastating. Even more so when you learn 32% are children. This reality cannot continue,” said Mr Maher.
Funds raised at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout enables Vinnies to provide vital services to people experiencing homelessness. Vinnies provides emergency accommodation, advocacy support, budgeting services, living skills programs, emergency relief, transitional housing and access to programs that help rebuild the lives of Australians living in poverty.
To donate, visit www.ceosleepout.org.au.