Charles Cornish, managing director of adult incontinence supplier, Lille Healthcare, aims to tackle life on the streets tomorrow (21 June 2012) – and may even attempt to shave Kevin Rudd’s eyebrow or perhaps blow in his ear as the former Prime Minister also bunks out for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
Each year, St Vincent de Paul host the sleepout event for CEOs and senior business and community leaders to rise to the challenge, and experience what it is like to be homeless for a night in winter.
Mr Cornish (pictured) tells DPS News his reason for participating in the event comes after finding a couple of homeless people living under Ontex’s office building.
“My awareness of homelessness in Australia really jumped through the roof. Seeing this couple under our building really changed the way I think and it’s interesting to see how my perception has already changed,” he says.
According to Mr Cornish, with this awareness comes the “first step to being able to help”.
“There are many underlying issues that drive someone to homelessness, from alcohol and drug addiction to mental health issues to domestic violence, however, very rarely is homelessness by choice.
“From my perspective, it’s important for everyone to appreciate that there are people out there, and more than often, it’s not their choice to be out there. Most people don’t choose to live like that.”
After reading a recent research report by Hannover titled ‘Ageing in what place?’ the increase in older homelessness was shocking, according to Mr Cornish.
“One Melbourne suburb saw a 40% increase in the 55 plus age group in just 12 months. What concerns me is the proportion of women included in the statistics. Also, as a provider of product and service to the aged care sector, I am regularly reminded of the staff shortage – and specifically carer numbers.
“A blinding finding is the increase in carers moving into homelessness themselves. Older carers are at risk due to the physical and financial burden of caregiving later in life. Many caregivers are female, with a long history of caring, and often lack significant financial security due to an interrupted work history. Perhaps there is an opportunity to merge these two problems (care shortage and carer homelessness) into a possible solution.
Mr Cornish has invited other aged care providers to join him as he bears the cold.
“With greater public awareness, the pollies may consider reviewing, with intent, to overhaul policy in this area, ultimately to benefit our entire community and, more acutely, our ageing community.
Make any last-minute donations to sponsor Mr Cornish by contacting Ontex Australia, or find out more information about the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.