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 overtly non religious.

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

What do you do besides child care/housing support/advocacy/etc?

Many people encounter YWCA Canberra through just one aspect of our work, such as child care, school age care, or housing support. But we are a multifaceted organisation working across Children’s Services, Community Services, Education and Training, and Advocacy.

Here’s a quick overview of our main programs and services.

How large are you?

YWCA Canberra is one of the ACT’s largest non-government organisations with 300+ employees.

Can men join YWCA Canberra?

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

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, most of our services and programs are available to women of any age. For example, we are a housing service provider for older women, and our She Leads Diploma of Management can be just as relevant to a woman in her 30s, 40s or 50s looking to re-invigorate her career as it may be to a young woman growing her leadership potential.

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.

It’s a bug bear of ours that we are commonly confused so help us spread the word!

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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, or read some of the posts on our blog.

Do you provide accommodation for people visiting Canberra?

Many YWCAs, including YWCA NSW, 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.

Through our Housing Support Unit, we currently provide housing support services for Canberrans.

Do you have a gymnasium or run exercise classes?

In previous decades, a major focus of YWCA Canberra was running various exercise classes and providing 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 that weren’t being met, such as child care and housing support.

You may find exercise programs for seniors being run from time to time out of our Mura Lanyon Youth and Community Centre,  but overall,  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 YNews, opportunities to volunteer and participate, events to be a part of (with special member-only prices), and wonderful networking opportunities. Plus our Great Ydeas Small Grants 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/issues? You should definitely join up!

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