The St Vincent de Paul Society's CEO Sleepout will be held again in the near future. I think it's great that it raises money for the homeless. But apart from that it seems to be an exercize in meaningless symbolism.

The local luminaries who take part are clearly trying to show that they care about the have-nots by treading "in their shoes". But surely spending one night in a cricket ground is nothing compared to months (if not years) of hunger, unemployment, loneliness and homelessness.

The homeless are in such a sad state because they have no choices. The rich and powerful, on the other hand, have an abundance of them. Making a show of "slumming it" for one night merely highlights this stark contrast. Rather than making those who participate in the event seem compassionate (which is clearly the intention) it conveys the opposite impression. It almost seems like they're rubbing it in!

Look at the photo gallery on this page. Why are the participants smiling? The poor bastards they're attempting to identify with sure aren't. Doesn't that seem weird -- even grotesque -- to you?

If the great and the good of Perth would like to show that they really, truly care about the plight of the homeless, I suggest a more comprehensive act of role reversal. As well as roughing it themselves they should each let a homeless person enjoy the comfort and abundance they take for granted. This would entail giving them the run of their houses, keys to their cars and access to their bank accounts -- not to mention letting them sleep in their opulent bedrooms. And the whole exercize should last at least a week.

Think there'd be any takers then?