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Sleeping under the stars for a worthy cause

Jun 9, 2018

Our CEO sleeps rough and smashes fundraising goal.

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is a fundraising event attended by CEOs, business executives and community leaders. It involves sleeping ‘rough’ for a night to raise funds and awareness for people experiencing homelessness.

CEO Nic Fairbank with Recruitment & Consulting Services Association (RSCA) CEO Charles Cameron

When asked how he felt on the Friday morning after roughing it for a night at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Programmed CEO Nic Fairbank’s answer was unsurprising – ‘not rested’.

Melbourne’s event was held in the University of Melbourne’s South Lawn Underground Carpark. A carpark that has hosted fashion shows and where movies/TV have been filmed because of its gothic-like arches and shadowy atmosphere.

On Thursday 22 June, over 220 CEOs gathered at the carpark to collect their sleeping material for the evening, a flat pack cardboard box. Everyone then set up their sleeping area, before coming back together to hear from guest speakers.

According to Nic, no one seemed confident about where to set themselves up and human nature dictated that everyone huddled together. ‘I set my box and other things down, then more and more people seemed to appear around me’.

The first speaker on the night was Brother Doug Walsh, President of Vinnies Soup Vans and self-proclaimed ‘Vannies’. Vannies is the proud name taken by the many volunteers who give up their evenings to travel around the city in Vinnies Soup Vans, delivering meals to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

Doug spoke about his experiences and all the different people he has met while travelling on the van. He made the point that we shouldn’t be so quick to label people as ‘homeless’. They are people who are homeless at that point in time. He also spoke about challenging our preconceived notions of those experiencing disadvantage. Some of the people he has met on the streets have been doctors and engineers who have fallen on hard times.

Other speakers on the night included St Vincent de Paul Society’s National CEO John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria’s CEO Sue Cattermole, and renowned author and speaker Nikki McWatters, who was a past recipient of Vinnies services.

Nic said that it was heartening to be among like-minded individuals who were all there for the same reason – that homelessness is a reflection of society and that anyone could be forced into hard times after just one event or decision. After a light meal of soup and bread, it was lights off at 10:30pm…. and then it got loud, said Nic.

‘There were bucket loads of snorers. You would be having a chat with someone who also couldn’t sleep and when the conversation paused, the chorus of snorers was inescapable. Earplugs with a beanie over the top seemed to work best for me to block out the noise.’

Nic thinks he got a total of four hours sleep in. ‘11pm-1am, woke up and had a chat with other nighthawks before getting back to sleep at 3:30am.’

Despite the minimal sleep, Nic didn’t hesitate when asked if he would participate in the event again. ‘It was a very well run event and I’ll remember the stories shared on the evening.’

Although Nic ended the interview with a yawn, his fundraising results were anything but sleepy! Nic surpassed his goal of $5000 to raise $5910!


Programmed is a leading Staffing and Maintenance organisation, providing staffing, professional, technical, training and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand with more than 20,000 employees supporting industry.

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