YeS 2026 – the Re-imagined Y

YWCA Australia is undergoing an important transformation. 

We are a proudly feminist organisation and for over 140 years, we have been marching on the front line, mobilising communities and actively working with young women leading change.  And like many not-for-profit organisations, we know the only way we can continue having the greatest social impact, is to evolve.

Over the years, YWCA has pivoted regularly to reflect changing social, political and economic times and today, another evolution is required for us to stay relevant and continue driving real change as we make progress towards gender equality.  

Since mid-2020, we’ve been undergoing a ‘Re-imagining the Y’ process, and the Board and Executive Team have now endorsed the Y Evolve Strategy (YeS 2026).

We are pleased to announce that this week, we commence the ‘Ignite’ stage of YeS 2026. From April to May 2021, we will engage with our teams, valued members and stakeholders to provide clarity on what these changes mean. Our planned stages for the change journey are outlined below:

Planned stages of our Change Journey

Envision

Sep 20 – Feb 21

  • Lift our gaze​
  • Clarity on purpose​
  • Evolve our strategy​
  • Focus our social impact​
  • Set revised five-year strategy​

Ignite

Apr 21 – May 21

  • Announce five-year strategy, YeS 2026
  • Communicate vision and strategic direction​
  • Provide clarity on any changes​
  • Clarify timeframes​
  • Support our teams​
  • Engage our members and stakeholders​
  • Embrace our purpose​

Design

Jun 21 – Mar 22

  • Design with teams ‘how’ the focus will shift​
  • Reorganise around our strategy​
  • Respectfully and transparently plan transitions​
  • Ensure consistent, transparent and clear communications​

Enact

2022 – 2026

  • Manage a smooth transition​
  • Grow our impact​
  • Be strong in our core activities​
  • Amplify our voice​

We haven’t taken this decision lightly – robust research, insight and stakeholder engagement has been undertaken to reach this point. We will continue this engagement as we move forward in the shaping and delivery of the YeS 2026 roadmap.

There were a number of factors that contributed to our continuing need to evolve. 

Firstly, the Board believed our current purpose, strategy and activities were too broad, which led to a lack of clarity and focus.  

Secondly, we need to demonstrate impact. Our results on the ground can’t be questioned. Our passionate and dedicated team deliver quality services to our clients every day. However, to grow our strength as an organisation, we need to focus and narrow our activities to areas we are confident will drive systemic change. We need to consolidate, be clear on who we serve and align our client service offerings to clear outcomes, to ensure we achieve our purpose. This focus will enable us to deliver the societal change we are seeking to achieve. 

Thirdly, sustainability. We need an organisation that is tailored to support our purpose and strategy, financially, structurally and culturally. We need to be in a position where we can re-invest our own resources into our purpose, and we aren’t at this point today. By consolidating and narrowing our focus, we will create a more sustainable business operating model. 

With this in mind, we determined our purpose is: Making young women’s leadership and women’s housing our priority for gender equity in Australia. 

In the last 20 years we have seen this landscape change. Currently, 60 per cent of the people accessing housing support are women. Young people make up around a quarter of people experiencing homelessness, and the largest number of women experiencing homelessness are aged between 25-34 years old. Overwhelmingly, domestic violence is one of the key drivers of housing insecurity with 86 per cent of women seeking assistance indicating that domestic violence was a key factor.  

Largely, a lot of our systems in Australia see affordable housing needs and homelessness as genderless issues and we know that simply isn’t true. We see a future where YWCA acts to change this myth. Moving the dial on women’s housing and homelessness requires us to look beyond the existing mainstream models. It requires us to recognise and understand the needs of young women, women in all their diversity, across the many issues influencing housing risk and experiences of homelessness.  It requires feminist housing and supports that are tailored, flexible and responsive.

This is a significant change for the Y. And whilst change can be unsettling, it is necessary. It’s time for us to rally together, listen, engage and support each other through this transition. Together, we can build on our past to create a future where gender equality IS a reality.

For more information on YeS 2026, check out our Strategy.

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