On 17 November 2022, YWCA Australia hosted our Annual General Meeting via Zoom, enabling YWCA members and supporters from across the country to participate in the governance formalities, then connect with each other at a virtual Member Mingle afterwards.
We were honoured to have Joella Warkill, a proud First Nations, Yidinji, and South Sea Islander Young Woman who was raised on Darumbal Country in Central Queensland do an Acknowledgement of Country and perform a very moving piece of spoken word poetry.
We then heard from President Helen Conway as she reflected on how far we’ve come as a national organisation since merger five years ago, and the changes we have seen both as an organisation and a nation in her three years as President of the Y. She emphasized the importance of our work now more than ever, in the midst of a national reckoning against gender-based violence and a housing and rental affordability crisis.
Membership and Governance
We congratulated Louise Quinn, a dedicated YWCA Brisbane and Queensland member who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Australia Day Honours List.
We also welcomed our newest Life Member – Mary Chow. Mary has made a significant contribution to the YWCA movement in a personal and professional capacity, and was a dedicated Y team member for over 35 years.
We celebrated our two newly elected Directors – Rebecca Blurton and Caroline Lambert – and thanked our departing Board Directors, Georgina Morphett and Yasmin Poole.
While the AGM is a celebration, it is also an opportunity to recognise the contributions of those who we have lost. We honoured a number of Y women who sadly died this year, including Jill Allen, former Executive Director of YWCA Albury/Wodonga for 9 years; Reverend Deacon Betty Matthews who worked for YWCA in Perth for 13 years; Heather Crosby OAM, former President and Executive Director of YWCA Adelaide and Life Member Margaret Smith, a former President of YWCA Adelaide.
Commitment to Reconciliation
This year, YWCA Australia submitted our first Reconciliation Action Plan. We are at the very start of our Reconciliation journey, and we believe this is a crucial step towards the Y’s vision of a future where gender equality is a reality, because gender equality cannot be achieved without First Nations justice.
Community Programs and Housing
We celebrated the growth of our community programs, with $13.8 million funding secured for the current financial year and $14.7 million for future years. This means our community programs can continue to meet the need of women and gender diverse people experiencing housing risk across the country.
We also celebrated increasing our tenancies across Victoria and Queensland. In Victoria, we secured a general lease for 14 new affordable housing units for women and women-led families in Maribyrnong and increased the capacity of Lakehouse to provide short-term accommodation to an additional 19 older women experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Melbourne.
In Queensland, increased our capacity to offer accommodation to 5 more women experiencing domestic and family violence at our Mary Street property in Toowoomba. We also secured a tenancy management agreement with the Queensland Government, which will enable us to help more women and women-led families in the state.
We currently have secured funding for 7 housing development projects that will deliver 123 homes for women and their families by 2026. This includes our Hutt Street Adelaide development project and future builds in Queensland and Victoria. This is a significant step in delivering YeS 2026, building the long-term sustainability of the Y and most importantly, supporting women and their families in the current housing and rental affordability crisis.
YWCA Australia CEO Michelle Phillips stepped through the finances in detail during the AGM. For those interested, you can find the full financial statements on the Annual Reports page.
YWCA is a membership organisation, and the YWCA movement has always been driven by the passion and dedication of valued members.
National Membership Infrastructure and Member Communities
As part of her address, Michelle Phillips launched our new National Membership Infrastructure and Member Communities, which were co-designed with the Member Design Squad. The new infrastructure is designed to let members choose how they want to collaborate and engage with the Y with a shared goal of benefiting our beneficiaries, who are young women, women and gender diverse people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We look forward to working with members to bring this new infrastructure to life from mid-2023.
After the formalities, we held a virtual Member Mingle to give our members from across the country to interact and connect with each other. The delightful and talented Tash York provided feminist and fun entertainment.