On the 20 June, GOTAFE CEO Travis Heeney joined the fight against homelessness by participating in the 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
The Melbourne event saw more than 80 business, community and government leaders sleep without shelter to help change the lives of Australians experiencing homelessness.
Mr Heeney said he was alarmed to hear the statistics for the regions GOTAFE operates in. More than 750 were homeless. More than 16,000 people were living in poverty.
“To better understand homelessness, I met some students from Berry Street who were willing to share their stories with me, all of which were profound. The challenges that these students experience were far beyond what many of us experience or understand. That is why this initiative is so important, whilst obviously to raise funds, but importantly to raise awareness.”
“Last night was the first time I have slept rough. It was extremely cold. For me it was one night but the hard part is knowing that there are people in our community who do this every night with nothing. I luckily had a sleeping bag and some cardboard. It really makes you consider the people in our society who experience homelessness.”
Our GOTAFE VCAL students put together a video message of support that was really meaningful. In it, they said that each year in every VCAL class, at each of our campuses, there are one or more students that are affected by homelessness. They wanted to let me know that they supported me in raising funds to help tackle the issue of homelessness. This really drove home the importance of participating in this event and doing all we can to highlight this issue.
I have found the whole experience to be truly humbling and I’m glad to have done my part in highlighting this issue and raising much needed funds. As part of the work for our social justice charter, this issue will be one we will continue to shine awareness on within the communities that GOTAFE operates in.”
Mr Heeney sincerely thanks those who contributed to this cause as part of his experience. So far, Mr Heeney has raised $7,000. Donations can still be made at https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/travisheeney/melbourne