Georg Chmiel from LJ Hooker and Rob Forde from Harcourts New South Wales joined 300 other CEOs in the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout at Carriageworks in Sydney last Thursday.
Before enduring a night in the cold, participants attended a presentation that went through the issue of homelessness in Australia, hearing stories from those who had experienced it, and hearing about the work of Vinnies. The CEOs were also involved in a panel discussion to talk about how they could approach the issue.
“It was a chilly night, so luckily I had a good sleeping bag,” Mr Forde said. “It was an interesting insight to see what some people go through each night. It was a pretty full-on experience but certainly it was a good insight.”
Mr Chmiel told Real Estate Business he was proud to have been involved in the event for a second time.
“It was a little bit cold but a couple of hours of cold is nothing for such a great cause," he said. "There were strict rules. We were only allowed to have a sleeping bag and a pillow and then you get three layers of cardboard. It was very realistic, but obviously it’s in a relatively safe environment, although it still gives a good impression and you get a couple of hours of sleep.”
Mr Chmiel said he was struck by the high number of homeless children in Australia.
“Out of 105,000 people there are 70,000 people under the age of 12, and there’s another 11,000 between 12 and 18,” he pointed out.
The NSW CEO Sleepout raised nearly two million dollars to support the work of Vinnies.
Both Mr Chmiel and Mr Forde have expressed interest in participating in future sleepouts.