MA CEO sleeps on the streets of Canberra again

A few frostbites and the icy night wind passing through the cracks of your sleeping bag while you’re trying to stay warm isn’t the ideal night out.

But Medicines Australia chief executive, Dr Brendan Shaw will again brave the depths of Canberra’s winter next month – cardboard box, beanie and all – for a good cause.

The St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleep-out raises awareness and much needed funds to support those living on the streets. They provide food, shelter, and find jobs to help keep people off the streets.

Every year CEOs, community leaders, senior government and corporate representatives and parliamentarians from around the country take part in the Sleepout, which has so far raised over $13 million since its inception in 2006.

“There are more than 100,000 people currently homeless in Australia, and in Canberra alone there are almost two thousand people experiencing homelessness, with around 300 children under the age of 12,” Dr Shaw said.

“Having participated in the CEO Sleepout before, I know sleeping rough can be an extremely cold, wet and miserable experience. I still flinch when I see the underground carpark at the National Gallery of Australia after a particularly wet and cold Sleepout a few years ago.

“With overnight minimums in the capital already falling below zero, I certainly have some reservations about sleeping out during a Canberra winter.

“But it’s an important cause, not only to raise awareness but also much needed funds to provide practical, financial, and emotional support to help thousands of people rebuild their lives, helping to break the cycle of homelessness.”

More than a thousand business leaders from across Australia participate in the CEO Sleepout and last year the sleep-out raised $5.3 million, helping to bring an end to homelessness.

“It’s quite surprising that children are one of the largest groups of Australians experiencing homelessness, and more than 70,000 people supported by homelessness services in 2011-12 were children aged 0-17,” Dr Shaw said.

“The CEO Sleepout isn’t just about surviving the night, especially when you’re cardboard shelter collapses on you in a storm at 3am, it’s about understanding that we ‘can’ make a difference.

“The money raised helps to fund new projects, assists with the provision of existing homeless services and allows Vinnies homeless services to expand their programs.

“Hopefully as a nation we can raise even more money this year to help make a difference and break the cycle of homelessness.”

This year’s Sleepout in Canberra will take place on 19 June at the National Film and Sound Archives.

To sponsor Dr Shaw’s participation in the CEO Sleepout go to

Dr Shaw’s previous blogs on the CEO Sleepout can be found on the MA website


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