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IN PHOTOS: Community leaders sleep rough to highlight homelessness issue

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More than 60 Sunshine Coast business, community and government leaders spent the night sleeping rough on Maroochydore beach last week for the 2023 Sunshine Coast Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

With more and more Coast residents experiencing severe housing stress, this year’s event raised almost $200,000 to support a variety of services, including crisis accommodation, support in housing applications, food, clothes and essential items.

Vinnies Sunshine Coast diocesan president Beryl Rowan said the CEO Sleepout was crucial in helping the growing number of locals experiencing homelessness, especially as the state-wide rental crisis and rising cost-of-living continues to contribute to an increased number of households experiencing financial strain.

“The CEO Sleepout has a tangible impact on the lives of individuals facing housing and financial insecurity. The efforts of Sunshine Coast businesses and leaders enables Vinnies to provide critical resources, support programs and pathways to help prevent and break the cycle of homelessness,” she said.

“While it’s just for one night, the annual event is a powerful catalyst for change. It sparks conversations, fosters empathy and drives government and industry bodies to work together with us, to find solutions to address homelessness in our community.”

Related story: Charity effort ‘worth one cold and uncomfortable night’

Eleven Sunshine Coast Business Council members raised more than $51,000, to support the estimated 1650 people experiencing homelessness on the Sunshine Coast each night.

SCBC chair and Sleepout participant Sandy Zubrinich said she was delighted that the Sunshine Coast business community had once again come together to spend a night with nothing more than a sleeping bag and piece of cardboard to raise funds and awareness for the cause.

“We are very proud to have our SCBC members participate in last night’s event who collectively contributed more than $51,000 towards the event’s $179,835 total, with every dollar helping to keep individuals and families in our Sunshine Coast community off the streets,” she said.

Sunshine Coast Council representatives joined the cause, with CEO Emma Thomas, Councillor Maria Suarez and group executives Greg Laverty, Debra Robinson and Scott Taylor experiencing the cold winter’s night.

“This is the second time I’ve participated in this event, which is growing with more and more support each year,” Ms Thomas said.

“Whilst we will experience one night, we are mindful of people who face uncertainty more often.

“Council is also preparing a Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, which will outline actions to help address housing and homelessness on the Sunshine Coast.

“Our Sunshine Coast Council Sleepout Team raised more than $9360 and joined business, government and community leaders across Australia in sleeping out outdoors to support the many Australians who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”

To donate to the cause visit ceosleepout.org.au.

If you are experiencing homelessness or domestic and family violence you can call the Housing Service Centre on 5352 7333, Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753 or DVConnect on 1800 811 811.

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