There is no single definition of homelessness, it is complex. But sleeping rough for one night is not.

This Thursday 18 June, Hunter Primary Care will participate in its fifth Vinnies CEO Sleepout with staff members sleeping out in their backyards, cars and on their couches to raise funds for Vinnies’ work with homeless people throughout the year.

Participating in the CEO Sleepout allows us to support the collaborative relationship that we have with Vinnies locally. This relationship is vital for the success of our services.

Our staff call on Vinnies support on an almost daily basis to access supports and housing for our clients who do not have a safe place to call home.

Hunter Primary Care’s Aboriginal Health Workers along with the Care Coordination and Yudhilidin teams regularly request ‘flexible funding’ from Vinnies. The funding supports crisis accommodation for those facing homelessness as a result of evictions, domestic violence and vulnerable members with no fixed address.

Currently, there is a 10 year wait list for Department of Housing accommodation.

Often people have to jump through literacy hoops to even get on the list. In partnership with Vinnies, our staff support clients in this process to try and find crisis accommodation.

Over the past four years, the rate of homelessness has increased by 13.7% as a result of a lack of investment in mental health support, family violence services, homelessness services or affordable housing, and failing to raise Australia's safety net Newstart in over 20 years.

Homelessness is a hidden epidemic, it is so much more than people living rough on the streets.

A high proportion of our clients have rough sleeping arrangements, whether it be an unstable home with no fixed address, sleeping in cars, couch surfing or sleeping rough as a result of mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies or unemployment.

Our services focus on mental health, suicide prevention and chronic disease management – we cannot begin to address these issues without addressing an initial underlying concern of homelessness. Our clients will be less likely to address chronic conditions such as renal failure, anxiety or high blood sugar levels if they are also trying to find a stable home.

While the event traditionally sees Hunter CEOs and senior executives come together under one roof, participants will show their virtual support for vulnerable community members who are sleeping rough.

Coming together with other CEOs and Managers in previous years has been a humbling experience for the team. COVID-19 will mean that we will be coming together through an interactive online event. It will be a different experience but one we hope will be just as worthwhile.

Together with Vinnies, Hunter Primary Care wishes to raise awareness of this cause and highlight the real facts of homelessness. Any donation big or small will help make a difference to change the face of homelessness in our region.

If you are in a position to donate, please consider supporting Hunter Primary Care team by visiting