A fundraising event held in Sydney, Australia has sparked a social frenzy after a room of wealthy CEOs were pictured getting “a glimpse of the realities” of homelessness via virtual reality technology.

The annual fundraiser dubbed “CEO Sleepout” traditionally sees top-tier businessmen and women swap their comfy beds for makeshift cardboard mats and sleeping bags, with many of Australia’s major cities, such as Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and more, all pooling together to raise money for the country’s homelessness crisis.

The 2017 event has so far raised around $5m (£3.9m) with 1,500 CEOs estimated to be involved, but that didn’t stop an immediate backlash to a video posted by an official Twitter account for the St Vincent De Paul Society-run charity drive.

The short video in question showed a number of participants donning Samsung Gear VR headsets and sat on stools in the interior of a building.

A caption noted that the virtual reality app on display for each CEO was intended to replicate the struggles “faced by the people who experience [homelessness] everyday.”

Unsurprisingly, this did not go down well.


Mockingly described as “Homelessness Simulator” by some, the replies to the CEO Sleepout account’s Twitter post containing the video quickly pointed out that a virtual experience of abject poverty doesn’t relay the physical repercussions of homelessness.

“Yes! Dealing with the virtual cold, the virtual violence, the virtual hunger, the virtual untreated illnesses, the virtual despair…” said one response, while others described the act as “tone deaf”, “poverty porn”, “dystopian”, and “disgusting and counter-productive.”

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