From sleeping rough to CEO and back again

Aaron McCauley was among 200 local business leaders who slept on the floor of a homeless shelter as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, but for him it wasn’t a great stretch from his previous life.

Jun 18, 2021, updated Jun 18, 2021
Formerly homeless Brisbane Vinnies CEO Sleepout participant, CEO of Urban 3mpire Aaron McCauley

Formerly homeless Brisbane Vinnies CEO Sleepout participant, CEO of Urban 3mpire Aaron McCauley

McCauley is now the chief executive of street wear fashion house Urban 3mpire, but he said his first Sleepout was a reminder of how far he has come in a few years.

“Just a few years ago, at the end of 2017, I fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up losing nearly everything,” he said. 

“I was homeless, sleeping in my car and too afraid and embarrassed to ask for help. I’ve come to terms with what I’ve been through and I’m so grateful to have made it out — but last night was a real reminder that there are still thousands out there who don’t have a place to call home.” 

The event raised more than $1.1 million for homelessness support services. In the last financial year, Vinnies Queensland’s homelessness services assisted 3641 people in need across the state and provided more than 95,900 nights of housing and crisis accommodation.

Vinnies Queensland chief executive Kevin Mercer said the funds raised from the Brisbane Sleepout would go towards vital homelessness support for some of Queensland’s most vulnerable residents. 

“As our state has been hit hard by the shortage of affordable housing over the last year, it has been a critical and challenging time for our crisis accommodation and homelessness support services,”  Mercer said. 

“While the South Brisbane Men’s Hostel has served the community for nearly 40 years, we are moving to a new support model that will provide better holistic support and better connect people with their communities. 

“The funds raised last night will help us provide dignified, safe and supported housing to Queenslanders without a home or support them in the transition to homes in the social or private sector. 

“On behalf of Vinnies Queensland and the people we support, I would like to thank everyone who participated in or donated to this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout — the funds will really make a difference.”

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