CMDR Ben Favelle - The Senior Naval Officer NT and Commanding Officer of patrol boat base HMAS Coonawarra - ‘went to gaol’ for a night recently.
Participating in the 2013 Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Darwin, CMDR Favelle self admitted to the old Fannie Bay Gaol to help raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in the Darwin area.
Joined by Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Bridgeman, Chief of Staff, 1st Brigade, the pair were subjected to a cold, hard night with only a cardboard box, a sleeping bag and their DPNU/DPCU's to keep them warm.
CMDR Favelle said the event held across the country had a special significance in Darwin.
“Homelessness is a big problem in Darwin and a big problem for young people in particular,” he said.
“Darwin has a higher rate of homelessness compared to any other capital city in Australia.
“In the short walk from my car to the gaol tonight, I walked past half a dozen homeless people along the way.
“For us, we get dressed up once a year and do it for fund raising, but for them they do it every night.
“This effort is a very small gesture and something we can do to raise awareness of the problem if nothing else.”
LTCOL Bridgeman said recognising the problem and supporting the efforts of the St Vincent de Paul Society was about being a good neighbour to the civilian community.
“About 10 per cent of the general community in Darwin has linkages to Defence,” he said.
“As a good neighbour and a good corporate citizen, it's important we recognise the problem and make efforts to improve the situation.”
CMDR Favelle and LTCOL Bridgeman were released on good behaviour on the morning of Friday, 21 June 2013.