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'It Was So Fast': CEO Shares Story Of Becoming Homeless At 12 Years Old

An Australian chief executive has told her shocking story of homelessness in a bid to to raise awareness of the growing problem across the country.

More than 116,000 people across Australia are experiencing homelessness and over 60 percent are under the age of 35.

Ahead of the annual Vinnies CEO's sleep out, Dr Caroline Hong shared her story to AAP.

After her grandfather's death and the collapse of her once prosperous family business, Caroline's father moved to find work.

Image: AAP

At just 12 years of age Caroline was left alone - and homeless - for six months in her native country of Malaysia.

Her only option was to relocate into a temple with Chinese nuns whom she couldn't understand.

"My parents had 10 children and 10 mouths to feed," Hong told AAP.

"That escalated and poverty ... it was just so fast. From having a chauffeur, a five-story building, a home -- into moving from place to place."

SEE MORE: Homelessness Is More Than Just Straight White People

SEE MORE: It's Time To Declare Homelessness A State Of Emergency

Caroline eventually moved to Australia and made an incredible transition, becoming the first woman to be chief executive of the Australian Dental Association NSW & ACT.

She's now the founder and CEO of an international Asian-Australian business, consulting and investment company.

Image: Getty Images

Caroline graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Adelaide and holds several post graduate qualifications from Australian universities in health and business.

SEE MORE: Australia's Shocking Youth Homelessness Figures

SEE MORE: 1 In 6 Young People Have Been Homeless, Couch Surfing A Major Concern

As a high-powered business professional Caroline rarely talks about her past, but has slept in the cold every year for the Sleepout event for over 10 years.

This year's Sleepout will be held on June 20 in Sydney.

In 2018, participants raised $6.9 million, providing almost 2 million individual support programs, 1.5 million meals and more than 650,000 beds.

With AAP

Feature Image: AAP

Contact the author at egillespie@networkten.com.au