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RCSA leaders take on homelessness

Every year the St Vincent de Paul Society holds a national event, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, to raise awareness of the growing issue of homelessness.

According to Vinnies, "more than 100 000 people experience homelessness on any given night in Australia."

In his first year as RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron took part in the event which sees hundreds of business and community leaders spending the night, each sleeping under a cardboard box. Charles, who was also joined by RCSA Board member and CEO of Programmed Skilled Workforce Nic Fairbank (left), has taken the time to give us his take on the experience and what he has learnt from it.

What motivated you to take part in the CEO Sleep Out?

A desire to better understand the human element of poverty and it's consequences. I'm very much a 'learning by doing' person and this takes me part of the way.

What was it like doing the sleep out on Thursday night?

I very much appreciate it was a token gesture. However, the stories of under privelege were compelling. I recently read a quote that said 'you would respect everybody if you heard their life story' and this experience reinforced my respect for those that have been dealt a tough hand in life.

How did this experience affect your thoughts about homelessness?

The fact that only 15% of those using the Vinnies soup van service were homeless hit me the most. Poverty has a roof in most cases. Being homeless is the sharp end of poverty. I now see people with stories to tell, rather than homeless.

Do you plan to do it again next year?

There's a good chance however, I think I will look for a way to give back more regularly throughout the year, where possible. At RCSA we are in the embryonic stage of forming a new charity support initiative where we will provide talent from the industry to support Boards of charities that can't afford management level advisers.

Stay tuned for more over coming months!

The charity has raised over $5.5 million from this one initiative. To find out more about the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, visit their website at


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