Frequently asked questions

What does YWCA stand for?

Young Women’s Christian Association. There are YWCAs around Australia and all around the world. It is a movement that has long been a powerful voice for empowering women and advocating on issues of concern to women. YWCA Canberra is proud of this association.

Are you a Christian organisation?

Christian foundations are part of YWCA Canberra’s heritage. However, our Board made the decision in 2009 to move to being a secular organisation.

At YWCA Canberra, we believe we are invigorated and strengthened by diversity and are inclusive of all religions, cultures and beliefs.

How large are you?

YWCA Canberra is one of the ACT’s largest not-for-profit organisations with 350+ employees. For an overview of our financial sustainability and independence, view our annual reports.

Can men join YWCA Canberra?

YWCA Canberra’s vision for feminism is a movement inclusive of all genders (and those who do not identify with either gender), working towards equality.

Men can join the organisation as affiliate members, without voting rights. YWCA Canberra retains its identity as a feminist organisation that exists to empower and service primarily women and girls.  However, we welcome men as feminist allies, we employ men, and many of our services and programs are just as accessible to men and boys as women and girls. Our youth engagement programs are one such example.

Do you only run programs for young women?

YWCA Canberra has a strong commitment to developing young women, particularly young women as leaders, as demonstrated by our Board quota system and traineeship program. We believe that young women bring continual renewal and innovation to our organisation. However we deliver a wide range of services and programs for a wide range of people across the ACT and surrounding regions.

What’s your connection to the YMCA?

YWCA and YMCA are two completely separate organisations, with their own history and purpose, and separate incorporation. There are no shared services in Canberra between YMCA and YWCA.

Why are you a feminist organisation? What do you mean by ‘feminist’?

YWCA Canberra has deep feminist roots. We believe in equality of opportunity, rights and access to social, cultural and economic wellbeing for all in our community. While great gains have been achieved in equal opportunities for women, there is still a long road before us in regard to violence against women, gender pay equality and gender wealth equality, to name just a few areas.

Our brand of feminism is inclusive of men – we welcome men as affiliate members, employ men, and believe that men who are feminist allies are a part of the solution to gender inequality. However, some of our programs are unashamedly ‘women only’. These are programs where we strive to make a safe space for women.

To understand us better, follow us on social media or read some of the posts on our blog.

Do you provide accommodation for people visiting Canberra?

Many YWCAs provide hotel-style accommodation. YWCA Canberra used to run a hostel where people visiting Canberra could book accommodation, but this has not been the case for many years now, as we moved into becoming a service-oriented organisation.

However we provide affordable housing options, property management and housing support services for a wide range of Canberrans.

Do you have a gymnasium or run exercise classes?

In the past YWCA Canberra ran various exercise classes and provided opportunities for women to improve their physical fitness. Over the years, this focus changed as we responded to other needs for women in the Canberra community.

You may find exercise programs for seniors being run from time to time out of our Mura Lanyon Youth and Community Centre, but exercise classes are no longer a major focus of our work.

What are the benefits of becoming a member, and why should I become one?

As a member-based organisation, YWCA Canberra members set the direction for all that we do, through our annual general meeting, Board and committees. We have a comprehensive membership program that includes receiving regular updates about our work through ENews, opportunities to volunteer and participate, events to be a part of, and wonderful networking opportunities. Plus our Great Ydeas Small Grants and Board Traineeship Program are only available for members. Find out more about becoming a member.

Being a member of YWCA Canberra also means we will keep you regularly informed of issues in Canberra of concern to women and girls. If you’re a woman living in Canberra or region and want to know about local services, events and opportunties you should definitely join up!