Senior partners from 16 law firms across Australia swapped their corporate suits for winter woollies last Thursday (June 21) to raise more than $130,000 for Vinnies’ homeless services.
With nothing more than a sleeping bag, pillow and cardboard for shelter, senior legal professionals joined other CEOs and business leaders from various industries in the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
The event aims to raise awareness and funding for homeless services across the country.
Cooper Grace Ward’s managing partner Chris Ward was a first-time participant and spent the night on the cold concrete floor of Brisbane’s Suncorp Piazza at Southbank, along with approximately 150 other Queensland business leaders.
Ward, who rose over $10,000, said that, despite the conditions, he enjoyed the experience.
“It really was a humbling, inspiring and challenging experience,” said Ward.
“I’ve learnt a great deal about the hard work that’s been done, as well as the challenges ahead of us to provide critical assistance to the large number of homeless people across the country.”
Holding Redlich’s national managing partner Chris Lovell and CEO Clarence Kunnel both spent a cold winter night at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne’s CBD on Thursday. This is the third year in a row the pair has participated in the Sleepout.
Between them, Lovell and Kunnel raised more than $15,000.
“I wouldn’t do the sleepout, particularly in this weather, if I didn’t think it was an effective way to raise money to provide important assistance to the homeless,” said Lovell.
“Homelessness can have such a devastating impact on people, causing them to become disaffected with, and dysfunctional in, society.”
Kunnel said he recognised that homeless people come from all walks of life, including women who are the victims of domestic violence and those whose businesses may have broken up.
“The public might just see people sitting on a park bench with a brown paper bag. But it could be anyone. It could be one of our friends,” said Kunnel.
More than 100,000 Australians were counted as homeless in the last census (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006), including more than 25,000 children aged under 18 years.
Other law firms that participated in this year’s event included Clayton Utz (Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales), Maddocks (New South Wales and Victoria), Snedden Hall and Gallop (ACT), Tan and Tan Lawyers (WA) and PwC (Western Australia).
The event, which is run by the St Vincent de Paul Society, takes place in each Australian capital city.
This year’s event attracted over 1000 participants and raised almost $5 million nationally.