Rosie Batty and the many unnamed women who are displaced because of domestic violence were front of mind for Dr Jane Comensoli and Dr Kate O’Brien when they joined the ranks of executive staff who will experience a cold winter’s night for the homeless people supported by the Vinnies CEO Winter Sleepout.
It is the fifth year that executive staff from the Catholic Education Office, Sydney, will take part in the event. It is the first time for female executives within the organisation to participate.
They hope to raise at least $5,000 each to support the more than 105, 000 people across Australia who are homeless, 44 per cent of which are women.
It’s everyday people who for some reason, whether it’s domestic violence, a mental illness or financial insecurity, are affected.
Dr Comensoli, Director of Human Resources, said she was inspired by 2015 Australian Woman of the Year and domestic violence awareness campaigner Rosie Batty.
“That whole plight of women and children who have to leave home for a whole lot of reasons, and because there are no facilities out there end up on the street, is very concerning,” Dr Comensoli said.
“The other thing that was in my mind when we volunteered was that 85 per cent of our workforce is female, and so I thought it was probably time that we were representing our workforce.”
Dr O’Brien, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning, agreed.
“The consequences of domestic violence are often homelessness or being displaced from the community, so it’s really important for us that have good jobs and family support to raise some money to support those that are less fortunate,” she said.
“Hopefully we can help change some government policy around support for these people, particularly for safe houses that are primarily female-oriented.”
Dr O’Brien said she had noticed an increase of homeless people on Sydney’s streets. When a homeless man who lived outside a real estate office in her home suburb of Pyrmont died about 12 months ago, the community reacted strongly.
“People raised money so that he wasn’t buried as a pauper,” she said. “There’s a plaque where he sat. Children drew pictures when he died and people put flowers there.
“He had a massive heart-attack and he was only 36. For me it was a real reminder of the plight of the homeless. It’s everyday people who for some reason, whether it’s domestic violence, a mental illness or financial insecurity, are affected.”
The Vinnies CEO Winter Sleepout Sydney event is on June 18 at Luna Park.
To sponsor Dr O’Brien or Dr Comensoli visit: https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/ceos/?group_id=26