Australian Statistician Dr David Gruen will take a break - of a sort - from planning the August 10 census night to join 163 other leaders in their field for the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
The sleepout is being held outside at the National Arboretum on Thursday night, with overnight temperatures expected to dip to 2 degrees and the chance of showers.
Dr Gruen will be joined by his daughter Emma, 19. They also did the Covid-affected event last year, when the CEOs slept outside at home.
Nationwide, 1657 chief executive officers have raised more than $6.579 million over the year to date to help Vinnies help people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
In the ACT, 164 have raised more than $716,000.
Geocon boss Nick Georgalis had on Wednesday night raised the highest amount of local CEOs, now standing at more than $48,000. But he was overtaken on Thursday by Nikias Diamond director Dimitri Nikias, who had raised over $49,400.
Dr Gruen is taking part in his fourth Vinnies CEO Sleepout. He and Emma slept in their Braddon backyard last year when Covid ruled out large gatherings.
This year she happened to be home again in Canberra because of the lockdown in Melbourne, where she is studying a bachelor of biomedicine at the University of Melbourne.
"I did it last year because I was meant to be overseas on my gap year and then Covid happened. Dad was doing it in the backyard and I thought, 'I'll give it a shot'. I think it's a worthy cause and something interesting to do," she said.
"And this year I wasn't going to be here either, but then Melbourne went into lockdown and I came up here where I could do my exams online.
"I think it's a really good cause. I think getting as many people involved as possible is a good thing. I'm glad Dad is doing it and has the power to do so."
Other Canberra leaders participating in the sleepout include Dirty Jane's owner Jane Crowley, ONA Coffee founder Sasa Sestic, St Clare of Assisi primary school principal Matt Egan-Richards and Helping ACT president Mohammed Ali.
Dr Gruen was also proud, in his case to be participating in his fourth sleepout. And he'll be wearing his census beanie.
"It's my opportunity to help get Australians talking about homelessness and raise awareness of the experiences of some of the most vulnerable people in our community," he said.
The 2-degree minimum should be balmy compared to other sleepouts, when the mercury has dipped below zero.
"I think the coldest was probably Old Parliament House on the concrete in one of the courtyards," Dr Gruen said.
He and the other participants will be given three pieces of cardboard to help keep out the cold.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics boss will be making sure the homeless count in other ways as well.
ABS field staff will work with community groups and providers and visit areas where people are known to sleep rough to ensure everyone is counted on census night.
As the only national estimate of the prevalence of homelessness, census data is used by organisations such as Vinnies to gauge the need for services for individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
"We want to make sure that every person in Australia on census night is counted, including people experiencing homelessness," Dr Gruen said.
"We know that homelessness comes in many forms, from overcrowding and couchsurfing to living in emergency supported accommodation or sleeping rough.
"Knowing how many people are experiencing all forms of homelessness means organisations can make informed decisions for their local community."
Data from the 2016 census shows 1 in 200 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness. That means 116,400 people across the country are homeless every night.
Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn chief executive Barnie van Wky was grateful to all the CEOs and leaders for making a contribution.
"In a First-World country such as Australia homelessness shouldn't be a crisis, but it is a stark reality for many," he said.
"We are grateful to the ABS for their expertise and attention in ensuring these vulnerable populations are represented.
"Census statistics give us an important understanding of how prevalent homelessness is in our community and enable us to plan, advocate for and support those experiencing disadvantage in our region in the best possible way."
- To make a donation to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for homelessness go to ceosleepout.org.au/donation