Agriculture bosses rug up for Vinnies CEO Sleepout

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development director general Ralph Addis and Wheatbelt Development Commission chief executive Rob Cossart slept under a bridge at this year's Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
Camera IconDepartment of Primary Industries and Regional Development director general Ralph Addis and Wheatbelt Development Commission chief executive Rob Cossart slept under a bridge at this year's Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Credit: Countryman

Two leaders on WA’s agriculture scene have taken the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout to the next level by roughing it under a bridge in Northam.

More than 100 company bosses rugged up last week to brave the winter cold and raise big bucks for WA’s homeless through the annual event last Thursday night.

But while city-slickers including Civmec’s Pat Tallon, Crown Perth’s Lonnie Bossi and Claremont realtor Vivian Yap enjoyed the security of sleeping at Optus Stadium, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development director general Ralph Addis and Wheatbelt Development Commission boss Rob Cossart were on the street.

The pair spent the day of the CEO Sleepout in chilly Northam for the WAFarmers Annual Forum at Muresk Institute.

While their fellow conference growers enjoyed a networking dinner and hunkered down in heated rooms, Mr Addis and Mr Cossart rugged up and took cover in sleeping bags under a bridge as temperatures in Northam fell to -2C.

The pair had raised more than $12,000 by the time they emerged for a teeth-warming cuppa on Friday morning.

The former Kimberley residents said they felt the chill but believed the cause was well worth it.

Mr Addis said the challenge gave him the opportunity to reflect on how lucky he is and to consider the challenges others faced.

“Vinnies do great work helping West Aussies who need a hand,” he said.

“The CEO Sleepout gives people like me a chance to reflect on the choices and privileges I enjoy, and to think about the challenges that others less lucky face.

“It’s a great chance to give a hand, and support Vinnies to keep making a difference.

“The generosity from friends, colleagues, and people I don’t even know to support Rob and I has been amazing. Thank you.”

The CEO Sleepout gives people like me a chance to reflect on the choices and privileges I enjoy, and to think about the challenges that others less lucky face.

Ralph Addis

Mr Cossart said he took part in the challenge to raise awareness of the impact and the realities of homelessness in the regions.

“Housing affordability and the current rental squeeze isn’t just an issue that’s impacting metro Perth, there are people sleeping rough in the Wheatbelt and regional WA,” he said.

“It can affect people from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life and by participating in the Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout it really put into perspective some of the realities of homelessness.

“After a freezing night sleeping under a bridge, I was able to have a hot cup of tea, go home and have a shower. The hardest part for me was the next day, after a night sleeping rough, just having the ability to go about my day and perform at my job.

“We did it for just one night, but imagine doing that every night and the impact that has on your ability to try and hold everything together.”

The pair hope to encourage more CEOs from across the Wheatbelt and regional WA to take part in the cause next year.

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