CEOs slept out, now staff can have a go

CEOs slept out, now staff can have a go

After spending a night sleeping out in temperatures well below freezing, some of the ACT's biggest bosses will finally get their chance to inflict the same experience on their staff, as Vinnies looks to launch a community version of the event.

Canberra business and public service leaders shivered through the coldest Vinnies CEO Sleepout in the country on Thursday night in the name of charity, as temperatures fell below minus 3 degrees.

It was the fourth year the event has run in the capital, and Vinnies spokesman Mark Thompson said off the back of its success, the organisation would be setting up a broader community sleepout later in the year.

''The biggest feedback we get out of the CEO Sleepout is they wish their staff could experience what they experience, it would give them a great appreciation of how lucky everybody that has the luxury of having their own bed at home has it,'' he said.

''Obviously a community sleepout wouldn't be middle of winter, wouldn't be as hard-hitting as what the CEO Sleepout is, but it would still have a huge focus on what we do, and give people a real opportunity to sleep under the stars.''


The event will be held in late October or early November, with final details yet to be confirmed.

Mr Thompson said it was being organised in conjunction with Communities@Work and the Canberra Centenary team. They expect about 1000 people to take part.

''We've already had a strong indication of participation from a couple of government agencies, school groups, some other community groups, so we feel that's very achievable,'' Mr Thompson said.

At this year's CEO Sleepout in Civic Square about 140 people slept out through Canberra's coldest June night so far. They included public service department secretaries Kathryn Campbell and Ian Watt, ad agency boss Clinton Hutchinson, and Canberra University Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker.

During the night they heard from Glen Tibbitts, who now runs a security business in Canberra, but is no stranger to sleeping rough.

The first time he slept on the streets Mr Tibbitts was 15 years old, had just escaped an abusive home and was scared.

''It was very scary, very daunting. I was too scared to do anything, apart from find a hiding hole amongst the bushes and just watch. People with drug problems and alcohol problems and stuff would fight between themselves, and I would just stay in the bushes,'' he said.

After two years on the streets, a moment of kindness changed the course of his life, when a police sergeant stepped in to stop Mr Tibbitts being falsely prosecuted, and left him with tins of food, $10 and some encouraging words.

''The impact of that, his kindness and decency towards me … it wasn't until recently when I reflected back that I realised how much of an impact he actually had. I wish I knew who he was,'' Mr Tibbitts said.

Since then, the 49-year-old has had children, and started his own business, which now employs more than a dozen people.


So far, more than $430,000 has been raised for St Vincent de Paul. With donations open until August 31, there was a chance the ACT group could break through the $500,000 mark, the charity said.

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