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Why Brisbane’s Lord Mayor is planning to sleep under the Story Bridge in June

Sleepout in Brisbane

Helping hand: Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk will sleep out under the Story Bridge to fight homelessness for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, pictured at the event launch with St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland CEO Peter Maher.

LORD Mayor Graham Quirk’s first orders as the returning leader for Brisbane city included a call for all bosses to sleep under the Story Bridge in June.

Mr Quirk will “fight homelessness in his sleep” under the iconic bridge for the St Vincent de Paul Society’s annual homelessness fundraiser, CEO Sleepout, on June 23.

The newly sworn-in Lord Mayor invited other business, political and community leaders to claim a spot under the stars at an official CEO Sleepout launch last week.

More than 200 are expected to sleep under the Story Bridge, including chief executive officer of ERM Power Jon Stretch, who is the event’s highest fundraiser at $11,000.

St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland CEO, Peter Maher, said the Vinnies CEO Sleepout was a great opportunity for business, community and government leaders to come together to make a real difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate. 
 
“While you sleep, more than 105,000 Australians have no place to call home,” Mr Maher said.
 
“Behind each statistic is the story of a fellow Australian – someone just like you and me – who has experienced the extreme isolation and desperation of homelessness.”
 
Queensland has the third highest homeless population in Australia, with more than 44,000 Queenslanders seeking assistance in 2014-15 from a specialist homelessness service such as Vinnies.

The first Sleepout was held in Parramatta, Sydney, in 2006 and has since raised more than $24 million to fund the St Vincent de Paul Society’s homelessness services.

CEO Sleepout Brisbane organisers planned to raise $1 million at their event at Captain Bourke Park to help homeless Queenslanders.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 105,000 homeless people in Australia.

Young adults aged between 25 and 34 make up the highest percentage of Australians living on the streets, at 18 per cent.

More than 44,000 young people under 25 are also homeless.

Sydney priest Fr Chris Riley has championed for better awareness of youth homelessness as the founder of national charity Youth Off The Streets for 40 years.

Fr Riley said support was “vital” but early intervention was the key to lowering the number of homeless youth.

“Giving kids the best possible support through counselling, crisis and transitional housing and education is vital,” he said.

Sam Thaiday

Strong support: Brisbane Broncos player Sam Thaiday is offering a helping hand for Vinnies’ teens program.

“But what is equally important is preventing homelessness in the first place.

“Intervening early is what will bring that number of homeless kids down.”

Vinnies Australia offers at-risk teenagers a mentoring program with young adult role models.

SENSE Youth Mentoring Program is a face-to-face, emotional intelligence and activity-based learning progam. It was selected as one of 12 charities for the 2016 Broncos Charity Partner Program.

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