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July 7, 2011
By CPL Melanie Schinkel
AS TEMPERATURES continue to
drop across the country and you
and your loved ones huddle cosily
around the heater or fireplace, spare
a thought for those who aren't so
More than 105,000 Australians are
homeless and in 2006 the Australian
Bureau of Statistics estimated that
about 50,256 homeless are forced to
sleep on the street every night.
To raise awareness and funds to
assist homeless Australians, Defence
Secretary Ian Watt participated in the
St Vincent de Paul Society's (Vinnies)
CEO Sleepout on June 16.
The annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout
takes place in capital cities across
Australia and challenges business
and community leaders to experience
homelessness first hand for one night
to raise money for the homeless and
help alter widespread public percep-
tions on homelessness.
Dr Watt raised $17,365 for the
cause, which placed him as the fourth
highest ACT-based fundraiser.
At time of printing, the national
event had raised $4,104,808.
Dr Watt said 973 CEOs were
involved nationwide and that 152
of them participated with him at the
National Museum of Australia from
7pm on June 16 to 7am the next day.
"I've always thought the sleepout
was a great idea. It's very easy for
some CEOs to donate money, but this
actually required CEOs to do some-
thing personal that inconvenienced
them," Dr Watt said.
In 2008, the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare discovered that
54 per cent of homeless people seek-
ing accommodation were turned away.
While Vinnies operates a wide range
of homeless services across the coun-
try, many areas remain without spe-
cialist homeless housing services.
Dr Watt said the aim of the
sleepout was not only to raise funds
and awareness but also to promote an
end to homelessness.
"The message of this event was
that intervention does help -- you
can make a significant difference by
donating a relatively small amount of
"Participating gave me a better
understanding of what it's like to be
homeless, which is quite frankly pretty
appalling. About 4am the temperature
dropped to minus two degrees but
former Chief of Army LTGEN Ken
Gillespie had lent me an Army winter
sleeping bag, so that kept me pretty
toasty up until then.
"By 7am I had slept for four hours,
so I was tired and grouchy. I couldn't
wait to have a shower."
He said he was pleased to be
involved in the event alongside a num-
ber of other Australian Government
departmental secretaries and agency
If you would like to support Dr Watt by
making a donation or find out more about
the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, visit www.
Secretary out in the cold
Defence Secretary Ian
Watt packs his sleeping
bag away after partici-
pating the Vinnies CEO
Sleepout in Canberra.
Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
By LEUT Peter Croce
INSTEAD of taking a relaxed
approach during return from deploy-
ment in HMAS Albany, sailors have
opted to cycle the 2800km journey
from Christmas Island to Darwin.
Attack Three crew 'raced' their
ship home in a round-the-clock effort
on an exercise bike in late May as
part of a fundraising effort for Angel
HMAS Albany's Commanding
Officer, LCDR Paul Welch, said the
crew aimed to raise at least $1500 for
the charity, which provides free air
transportation to patients in need of
medical treatment at distant hospitals.
"The Attack crews have regularly
dipped into their pockets to fundraise
for Angel Flight and this year's effort
has certainly been a different way of
approaching it," he said.
CPOMT Alan Rollinson organised
crew to ride in one-hour shifts 24
hours a day.
"We did our best to keep up with
the ship and it's something a lot of us
will never forget," he said.
BIKIN' IT: CPOMT Alan Rollinson.
Photo: ABIS James Whittle
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