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August 09 Edition Cover

Top executives sleep rough for the homeless

30 Jun 2010

Top executives sleep rough for the homeless Image

Docklands-based Enterprise Business Services CIO, Cathy Bibby, joined 115 other high-ranking executives sleeping in the cold at Etihad Stadium on June 17 as part of the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

Ms Bibby was packing her sleeping bag and picking up her allocated mattress, a sheet of cardboard, when the Docklands News caught up with her at 5.30 am.

“I think we were all expecting it to be a little bit worse than what it really was, not that it was exactly comfortable,” she said.

Ms Bibby was joined by senior executives James Lord and Greg Lyne. About a dozen others participated in the program by sleeping out at the business’s head office at 717 Bourke St.

Enterprise Business Services employs more than 300 people in Docklands and is a fully-owned subsidiary of Singapore Power. It provides IT services to utilities.

“You just assume that everyone has somewhere to sleep at night but when you hear some of the stats – 22,000 homeless in Victoria and a third are kids – you think, oh my god, where are these people?”

“So it was a little sobering. You have to wonder where to start. Given that homelessness is a growing problem, where do you start?”

“And what are we trying to fix? How do people find themselves in this situation? Homelessness is almost the outcome of something and as IT people, we are always trying to find the root cause of something and try to fix that rather than the outcome.”

The leaders all participated in a “think-tank” to help provide fresh insights into homelessness by addressing the issue as if it were part of their business portfolio.

Vinnies CEO Sleepout Victorian Ambassador Jane Nathan said that as well as raising awareness and important funds, the event also provided an opportunity to tap into the state’s brightest business minds.

“Last night’s Victorian event not only raised $351,540 but physically and mentally challenged participants to step outside the comforts of their own home and consider the wider societal issues surrounding homelessness,” Ms Nathan said.

“It also prompted them to think about solutions to this growing issue,” Ms Nathan said.

“St Vincent de Paul Society’s ultimate aim is not to continue service provision, but to put an end to homelessness altogether,” she said.

The initiative first began as a local community venture in Sydney’s Parramatta in 2006 but was held in capital cities nationally for the first time this year.

Victorians can still sponsor one of the leaders that took part in the event by visiting http://www.ceosleepout.org.au

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