2014: a year to remember

17 December 2014

Frances Crimmins

Frances Crimmins

Frances is the CEO of YWCA Canberra.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the enthusiasm, support and dedication of my colleagues, and the work of our 300 staff. Our organisation is not only a significant employer in the Territory, but also a contributor to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of our community.

Our 2013-2014 Annual Report highlights the many achievements and investments in new and innovative programs. Importantly, it also showcases the work of our staff at the frontline, who deliver vital community services to women, men, boys and girls throughout the region.

Measuring our impact

Measuring our impact

Our Results Based Accountability (RBA) framework has made significant progress this year, allowing us to measure the impact of our programs, builds the evidence base for our work, and embedding a
culture of continuous improvement in our organisation. We are now supporting other community sector organisations to understanding the importance of social impact measurement.

This year our RBA team has presented at a range of community fora in Canberra, and have developed a group to share in our RBA journeys, a great example of our leadership in collaborative practices.

Developing the leadership of women, young women and girls


I am regularly asked about the “W’ in our name, and for me the ‘W ‘ is central to everything we do.

This year we continued to provide leadership opportunities to our members through projects and programs such as: the Board Traineeship Program, Women Out Front, Great Ydeas, and the Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Leadership Project.

In terms of our international reach, many of our members have continued their advocacy work across the Pacific region, by representing the YWCA at the Commission on the Status for Women in New York, and by supporting the World YWCA through fundraising at our annual Round the World Breakfast event.

I would like to congratulate the first group of graduates of our She Lead Diploma of Management. I think these words from one of our graduates demonstrates the lasting impact this program has on women’s lives:

“It helped me learn who I was as a women, and an Aboriginal women, where before I was not discriminated against for being a woman, it was being black, so that helped me learn more about my identity even when I did not know that I needed that and I think that if anyone knows they need to learn more about themselves as a woman then they should most certainly do it, because you find out things you did not know, you meet people you most likely would not meet and you realise that you matter. I now know I can lead people better in my workplace and lead my people to a better Australia. ”

This year we also held our first She Leads Conference. It was around 10.30am, after the keynote address from Dr Anne Summers that I started to relax and thought, “wow this is a big ‘W’ moment for us!”. More than 180 women came together to share constructive dialogue, listen to thought-provoking and inspiring panel discussions, and participate in skills development workshops.

The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, as you can see from the following delegate comments:
“Hearing the panel members speak about their different leadership experiences was very inspiring and unique. The conference is a great way to network (connect and reconnect) with other women who want to achieve a common goal.”

“I felt empowered to be in a room full of strong women promoting leadership and awareness.”

“I wanted a space to help me reflect on my own leadership journey and plan how to progress – this was achieved.”

Working with communities, families and young people


In terms of our community services work, this year we have been working with the ACT Government to support the development of a One Human Services Gateway, a single access point for people to find out about a range of supports and services in the ACT.

We have also played a lead role in the in establishing the Child, Youth and Family Gateway and Network Coordination in the Tuggeranong region. For these achievements I would like to particularly acknowledge the contribution of Fiona MacGregor, our Director of Community Services.

Our Youth Engagement Team has expanded our reach in the Tuggeranong region. This year we have an average of over 400 young people per month participate in programs such as Every Girl, the award winning Y Aspire and the Lanyon Literacy programs, as well as activities such as our Lanyon Food festival, the Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mums Group, and free school holiday programs.

Our partnership with schools in the Tuggeranong region has been strengthened this year, which has seen many schools collaborating with our seniors groups.

Our partnership with Richardson Primary School, and a range of corporate sector organisations, saw us open the first Computer Clubhouse in Canberra this year.

The goal of this project is to provide a pathway for young people to develop skills and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Our Housing Support Unit has remained resilient in the current uncertain funding environment. The Affordable Housing Program continues to perform well with all tenancies occupied in both Lady Heydon House and our Eclipse Units.

Caring for children


The Children’s Services portfolio is the largest contributor to our revenue, at over $7 million per year. This year, our work expanded to include 13 school age care programs, and an additional two school holiday programs. Our early childhood services and family day care programs are also operating close to capacity.

The Children’s Services leadership team have not only been caring for more children this year, they have been active in the advocacy space, including appearing before the Productivity Commission into
Early Child Education and Care.

I often speak of the significant role that quality childcare has played in my own work life, and my children’s development. It is vitally important that the community continues to call on the Australian Government to develop a comprehensive childcare policy, including out of school hours and vacation care, and to increase the supply of affordable and quality childcare places for all families and carers.

A big thank you to Bernadette Carbin, Director of Children’s Services, for leading this important area of work.

Sharing our story


Our communications and advocacy team have also been very active this year.

Lead by Joanna Allebone, this team is behind our many events, campaigns, submissions, partnerships and strategic communications initiatives.

The work behind our new brand and website, our wonderful Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, and the revamped Relationship Things resources have all been key projects this year.

The advocacy around poverty and emergency food relief, and fundraising for the Lanyon Food Hub has engaged a broad cross-section of the Canberra community, and supplemented our much needed food supplies.

The Fiver4Food and Frugal Feast campaigns have connected us with food bloggers, bolstering our call for all Canberrans to have access to nutritious food.

This creative team continues to innovate, push boundaries, and raise our profile within the Canberra community and beyond.

In this final blog post for the year, I can only outline a few of our key achievements, but there are many more stories to be shared. Our work is only made possible by the support of our funders, corporate partners, friends and members. I sincerely thank you, and look forward to another exciting year ahead.

This article was originally published in the Summer edition of Ynews

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