The Vinnies CEO Sleepout began as a local community venture in Sydney’s Parramatta in 2006, the brainchild of a local business leader, Bernard Fehon, Managing Director of Tactical Solutions. At that time, Bernard had been working on the organising committee of a gala dinner to raise funds for Vinnies locally in the Parramatta region. It was whilst serving on this committee, that Bernard conceived an idea inspired by his children having attended school sleepouts for Vinnies.
The sleepout would engage business leaders to raise awareness and funds for Vinnies to support people experiencing homelessness as part of a larger Escape from Poverty campaign. The campaign also included the annual gala dinner and door knock appeal.
With the help of Vinnies, business associates, volunteers and his family, Bernard held the inaugural event on 21 June 2006 at what was then known as Telstra Stadium, now ANZ Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park.
Part of the intention of the event was to be cost neutral, and this was achieved with the support of the following organisations: Telstra Stadium, AMP Foundation, Tactical Solutions, REDD Media, Triple M, McKenzie Partners, Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce, Mt St Benedict College, Executive Peak Performance and Tony Fehon of Macquarie Bank.