Chief execs spend night on streets

Snoring and soreness were their biggest gripes, but for many Sydney chief executives who swapped plush beds for a piece of cardboard and the chill of a winter night the world was a different place this morning.


About 180 executives bedded down at Luna Park overnight for the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout, a fundraising initiative aimed at raising awareness of homelessness.

They were part of a group of 684 CEOs from companies including Citibank Australia, McDonald’s and Fairfax Media taking part across Australia.

Dawn mutterings aside, the CEOs were humbled by the stories of homelessness they heard the night before, St Vincent de Paul Society spokeswoman Marion Frith said.

“A number of them are saying `this has changed how I see the world’,” Ms Frith said.

Before turning in late on Thursday, the CEOs were addressed by former homeless men who had managed to turn their lives around in the past year.

One man, Gary, fell on tough times during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

This time last year he was staying at a Vinnies refuge when entrepreneur Dick Smith handed him $10,000 so he could pay rent for a year at a private residence.

“He now has full-time work and his children are fine,” Ms Frith said.

Michael McLeod, the CEO of media business Message Stick, was also at Luna Park last night.

One of the stolen generation, Mr McLeod had a difficult childhood, leading him into heroin addiction and alcoholism.

How he transformed his life was the subject of another address.

The event raised $2.6 million for homelessness services, including $950,000 generated by executives in Sydney.