Sleeping out rough to assist the homeless

There are many social injustices a Rotary club can choose to address, but one that touches the hearts of members of the Rotary Club of Chadstone/East Malvern, Vic, is the suffering of our fellow human beings who experience homelessness.

In 2020, the club introduced its ‘Sleeping Out Rough Night’ program to raise funds and awareness that there are people who call the street home every night.

As the world was experiencing a pandemic, no one could have envisaged, especially Melbournians, having to endure the world’s harshest lockdown restrictions. But members of the Rotary Club of Chadstone/East Malvern came together to improvise, adapt and overcome. The first Sleeping Out Rough Night was launched in November 2020. Fortunately, at that time in Melbourne, members could meet in homes with up to five people. Members generously offered their backyards, where they slept for the night, exposed to the elements, experiencing what the homeless are forced to endure every night. Through the kindness and generosity of members’ families, friends, and colleagues sponsoring members to sleep out, a total of just over $3,000 was raised.

The funds were donated to Avalon Centre in Malvern East. The centre was founded by Debbie Holmes, who dedicates her life to aiding the homeless.

In November 2021, Melbourne was emerging from the harsh lockdown restrictions, and people could meet outside in groups of up to 100. The Rotary Club of Chadstone/East Malvern was joined by the Rotary Club of Malvern and supported by Stonnington Council through a grant and Donations In Kind, going toward the use of Central Park in the heart of Malvern. The night of the sleepout was officially opened by then Mayor of Stonnington, Cr Jami Klisaris.

The event was supported by three local businesses located in the heart of Malvern. Marshall White Real Estate, Norsu Interiors and Family Health Clinic Malvern generously accepted the offer to be Blue Ribbon Sponsors of the Sleeping Out Rough Night program.

Club members, supporters of the Sleeping Out Rough Night, family, and friends donated funds via RAWCS and joined the night to come and experience what some experience every night. Again, those taking part in the sleep out cast their nets far and wide, seeking sponsorship to brave the elements. Through the overwhelming generosity of participants and sponsors, the program raised $12,000. The funds once again went to support the magnificent work Avalon does. With the support of The Rotary Foundation, the funds also enabled the Rotary Club of Chadstone/East Malvern to secure a grant that assisted in purchasing a lifting device to be used in the Avalon storage facility.

This year, the Sleeping Out Rough Night will again be held in Central Park East Malvern, on April 14. Members would love to see Rotary clubs across District 9800 come and join them to make this year even more successful. Funds raised will go towards assisting those experiencing homelessness and women and children escaping domestic and family violence.

For more information on where and how to register to join the 'Sleeping Out Rough Night’, visit rotarychadstone.org.au