Celebrating a terrific year at YWCA Canberra

1 November 2017

(First published in the YWCA Canberra 2016-17 Annual Report.)

I’d like to start with an acknowledgment of our staff, Board Directors, members, corporate partners, and friends. It is only with your skill, dedication and support that this organisation continues to meet the needs of our diverse community.

There have been many highlights this year and our progress as an organisation is evident in our work right here in the local community, but also in our contribution to the national YWCA movement in Australia, connecting us to the work of the World YWCA. One of the key areas our Board focused on this year was the National Merger Project (NMP). The NMP is exploring the possibility of developing a new, merged, national structure for YWCAs in Australia.

As a direct consequence of a range of critical issues identified by YWCA Canberra and its Board, the Board unanimously decided to withdraw from the NMP this year. This decision was not made lightly, and much consideration was given to the overall advantages and disadvantages of this merger for YWCA Canberra over some time.

YWCA Canberra’s clear commitment to the NMP was recorded in our signing the Statement of Intent last year. We’ve also made a large financial contribution to the NMP, and dedicated hundreds of hours of our senior staff and Board’s time.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts at engaging with the NMP process, appropriate action was not taken to adequately address YWCA Canberra’s concerns.

YWCA Canberra remains committed, as we have been since 1929, to support a powerful YWCA movement in the ACT, Australia, and around the world.

As part of this work, we proudly joined YWCA Australia’s delegation to the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. This experience galvanized our commitment to advocate for gender sensitive budgeting at the ACT level, strengthening our local advocacy efforts.

Another key advocacy moment this year was the launch of our four key policy priority areas which call for greater action on gender equality, early childhood education and care, safe and affordable housing for women, and better supporting young people.

We’ve since briefed all Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly on these issues, and engaged in a range of government consultations and decision-making processes. We are now working proactively with government, political leaders from all sides, community organisations, and private sector colleagues to realise a more equitable Canberra for all.

Early childhood education and care is our core business, and this year we proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Voice, in support of their Every Child Counts Promise campaign.

Our participation in this campaign signals our commitment to provide equal and adequate pay to our early childhood educators, and recognises the important contribution they make in our community.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) awarded us our third Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation this year, for our ongoing commitment to proactively pursuing gender equality in our workplace. We are thrilled to receive this accolade, and remain one of only two ACT based organisations to achieve this status.

This year YWCA Canberra continued to grow and strengthen its fee-for-service work, primarily in children’s services and training and education. This year our turnover has increased by a further $1million, and the investment in our operating infrastructure has primed further growth in the 2017-2018 financial year.

With the support of the University of Canberra, we expanded our She Leads program this year with the introduction of the quarterly In-Conversation series. These events have proven to be very popular with both men and women, and have featured diverse women leaders from a broad cross-section of society.

We look forward to holding our fifth She Leads Conference in the coming months, and designing an annual leadership event for girls in years 9 and 10 later this year.

Through our annual Great Ydeas small grants program, we were able to offer a pool of $20,000 in funding to a record nine Canberra women and girls. We are immensely proud to be able to support local women and girls to realise their goals through seed funding, and support from our partners. This program demonstrates the collective social impact we can make when corporate, philanthropic and community organisations work together.

We are also building collaborative relationships to support the YWCA Canberra Clubhouse (the Clubhouse). This year, with the support of our partners and friends, we raised more than $10,000 in financial and in-kind donations for our Clubhouse, which will allow us to revitalise the space with industry standard equipment, and new project opportunities for our enthusiastic Clubhouse Members.

We are excited to share more about these and other areas of impact and achievement with you in this year’s Annual Report.

For a look back at all of this year’s highlights, visit our Flickr photo album. You can download the 2016-17 Annual Report from our website here, and stay in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also receive regular updates by subscribing to our weekly e-news, monthly She Leads Newsletter and our quarterly advocacy-focused publication, Y-Action.

We look forward to continuing to engage with you in the future.

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