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Gary ‘sleeps out' for homelessness

The number of displaced older Australians with nowhere else to go is growing, according to Gary Barnier, the managing director of Opal Aged Care.
Gary Barnier, Opal Aged Care managing director, is pictured at last year's St Vincent de Paul Society’s CEO Sleepout.
Gary Barnier, Opal Aged Care managing director, is pictured at last year's St Vincent de Paul Society’s CEO Sleepout.

As an Ambassador of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s CEO Sleepout, Mr Barnier, who has participated in the event for three years in a row, will again rough it out at Sydney’s Carriageworks and Eveleigh Markets tonight (Thursday, 19 June 2014).

Opal Aged Care has an open door policy at its homes located around Australia to find a bed for older homeless men and women with a number of homeless elderly residents in the care of the organisation.

Previously Domain Principal Group, Opal Aged Care is a leading residential aged care provider.

Mr Barnier aims to raise awareness and funds for the one in 200 Australians experiencing homelessness on any given night. Last year, Mr Barnier raised nearly $9,000 and has so far, this year, almost doubled his fundraising efforts by raising more than $17,000.

About 14% of Australia’s homeless are aged over 55 years, and many suffer from dementia or traumatic brain injury.

Mental illness and disability is also a cause for concern, with 27% of Australians with a disability living below the poverty line.

“Every night, 190,000 elderly Australians have a roof above their head and a warm meal due to living in residential aged care. Many other elderly Australians are not nearly as fortunate,” Mr Barnier said.

“I think about those people who live on the streets who are over 65 years of age and find themselves homeless as a result of either an acquired brain injury, through alcohol or drug abuse or just simply because their community and family lives have broken down and they’ve got no other place to go.”

Mr Barnier said his support for the welfare of homeless older Australians goes beyond his participation in this event.

“We are in the fortunate position where we can provide a safe and warm home for many homeless people in NSW alone. We don’t operate a formal program, rather we approach this from a compassionate perspective and we embrace and respect the older generation regardless of their circumstances and will continue to do so.”

The eighth Vinnies Sleepout takes place in Sydney’s Carriageworks and Eveleigh Markets, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh, tonight. The event is also held in nine other locations around the country, including Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne, Perth, and Darwin.

To support this cause and Mr Barnier, please make a donation via the CEO Sleepout website.

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