CEO speech at YWCA Canberra’s 90th anniversary

24 October 2019

On 16 October 2019, YWCA Canberra celebrated 90 years of providing essential, quality services for women, girls and families in our region. Along with speeches from our Board Directors and members, our Chief Executive Officer Frances Crimmins gave her reflections on 90 years of YWCA Canberra.

Below is a transcript of Frances’ speech.



Thank you all again for coming out tonight and showing your support for YWCA Canberra. At our heart, we are about our local community: celebrating it, empowering it and supporting it. That is how we started in 1929, and that we have remained true to in the 90 years since.

Each one of you here today has helped us achieve our goals, whether it has been through being on our Board, being a member, working for us and with us, volunteering or providing financial support. We truly couldn’t have done it without you and those women who have come before us in this proud history.

As I contemplated what to say tonight about our future and the current state of play around the world, if we are true to our world vison of transforming power structures. We must walk in the spirt of the suffragettes, who knew it was always a long game. We need to continue the momentum of this last 90 years and amplify the voices of all girls and women. This must be claimed from the bottom up, at the grass roots, we must push back on the push back against women’s rights, our human rights and together we can achieve this.

Our rights to safe, affordable and appropriate housing, our right to live free for all forms of violence, to be safe in our homes and public places, our right to economic independence and workplaces free from sexual harassment and discrimination, and our rights over our bodies.

I am also inspired by what I see around me. Every year, we have a direct positive impact on thousands of lives in our region, and indirectly we inspire and empower many thousands more.

Only weeks ago, girls and young women were involved in organising Canberra’s contribution to the largest global climate strike in history. I see so many talented, empowered women and girls engaging with YWCA Canberra and our programs. And I am lucky to be surrounded each day by passionate, driven women walking with us on this journey of girls and women thriving.

Looking to the future, our strategy is enabling us to activate and be part of the solution, to build homes for women by women, to provide education to children, young people and adults in their workplaces on prevention of violence education and awareness; our girls and young women’s leadership programs; providing a platform for the women I describe as the disruptors, dismantling the leadership paradigm in the country. Through our reconciliation action plan walking alongside our first nations people and support their call for reckoning and restitution for past injustice; through our early learning centres, embracing new educational pedagogue where children are nurtured through non gender lens. The inclusion of our LGBTIQA+ programs to contribute to social inclusion, though our fearless advocacy in speaking truth to power, to continue the legacy of being bold and dauntless. Like the suffragettes, we know it is a long game and as women we know we will preserver.

I look forward to a world where YWCA Canberra doesn’t need to exist. Where women and girls are thriving along with their male counterparts. Where they are supported and empowered to achieve their full potential and recognised equally for their talents and efforts.

Until that day, we must all continue the legacy of all the Y women who came before us. I call on each and every one of you here to contribute to that cause, to work with us as we strengthen communities by supporting girls and women through our services and advocacy. Together, we must generate new responses to contemporary social situations and continue challenging ourselves to keep making the lives of girls and women in our community better.

But for tonight, we celebrate!



Find out more about YWCA Canberra’s 90th anniversary.

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