More than 180 business and community leaders will spend tonight in the University of Melbourne’s iconic South Lawn Carpark for the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

In Melbourne, participants are aiming to raise $800,000, which will help Vinnies volunteers deliver the very basic things people need to survive – food, school fees, transport, clothing, furniture, and more.

University of Melbourne Head of University Services Paul Duldig will join other business and community leaders sleeping out in the carpark.

Mr Duldig said the University of Melbourne was proud to host the event, which helps to raise understanding of the complex social and economic factors that lead to poverty and homelessness.

“There are increasing numbers of people sleeping rough in Melbourne,” Mr Duldig said.

“Taking part in the Sleepout is a small step I can take to help raise awareness but also crucial funds for Vinnies' much needed programs.”

Proceeds from the 2018 Vinnies CEO Sleepout will be used to support Vinnies’ home visitation service. Across Victoria, demand for the service has risen by an average 40 per cent over the past three years and up to 68 per cent in some parts of the state.

Last financial year, Vinnies Victoria volunteers visited more than 318,000 people in need.

Vinnies Victoria Chief Executive Officer Sue Cattermole said the event is an invaluable meeting of minds and inspires influential leaders to unpack complex social and economic issues which they can personally influence in their leadership positions.

“We know that more than 725,000 Victorians are living below the poverty line and according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, homelessness has risen by over 11 per cent across the state in the past five years,” Ms Cattermole said.

“If we don’t pool our energy now to address the causes of poverty and proactively alleviate crisis, more and more people will end up experiencing homelessness – which is an absolute tragedy.”

Donate to Mr Duldig’s campaign, visit ceosleepout.org.au or join the conversation online tonight: #PovertyHomeTruths #CEOsleepoutAU.