Strategy

For over 140 years, YWCA Australia has been working at the forefront of gender equality. Over the years we’ve made significant progress as we’ve gone through a number of evolutions, adapting to the ever-changing issues impacting women, young and old.

Now, facing new challenges, we are preparing to evolve again and transform the way we operate. Our revised five-year strategy—the YWCA Evolve Strategy, or as we like to call it, YeS 2026, will ensure that we continue to advance gender equity and deliver measurable and meaningful impact.

What is changing?

Our Core Activities

Why is this change needed?

What’s next?

What is changing?

Over the years we’ve made significant progress as we’ve gone through a number of evolutions, adapting to the ever-changing issues impacting women, young and old. But we knew the only way we can continue having the greatest social impact is to evolve.

YeS2026 means renewed and reinvigorated attention on who we are, how we achieve our vision and maximising our social impact for young women and women.

In order to be able to maximise our social impact, YWCA will be making a change to our future direction.

This change is reflected in our new vision and purpose.

Our vision has been simplified to reflect the aspiration for everything we do: A future where gender equality is a reality.

Our purpose is: Making young women’s leadership and women’s housing our priority for gender equity in Australia.

This is narrowed from our previous purpose, which we believe provides clarity going forward. Our purpose acknowledges:

  1. Young women and women need homes to be safe, happy, healthy and secure. This is the social change we will galvanise around and the focus of the young women’s thought leadership we will foster.
  2. That young women’s leadership and women’s housing are the priority issues YWCA will respond to, and impact.
  3. We will serve young women and women, including people of marginalized genders, as the primary beneficiaries of the Y’s work. We understand that girls may be secondary beneficiaries of our work.
  4. We see our role to impact gender equity, as you can’t achieve equality without equity.

The only way we can continue having the greatest social impact is to evolve.

Our Core Activities

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Our transformation will take place over the next three years, and evolve our operations, resourcing, and investment approach. This is how we implement our new direction.

In order to focus what we do around our purpose, we have identified five core activities that describe the activities we do to deliver impact.

We will enable a smooth transition for our teams, clients, and the communities we serve as a priority, and we will continue to operate as we do today, while laying foundations for future growth.

1. Apply an Intersectional Feminist approach to achieve sustainability and impact.

A sustainable YWCA is an organisation that is true to our values, culture and purpose, delivers impact and has a strong and enduring future.

3 – 5 YEAR DELIVERY OUTCOMES

  • Our decisions are informed by principles and criteria for intersectional decision-making, impact and sustainability.
  • A strong, intersectional feminism understanding across the organisation.
  • An established national Impact Reporting Framework that reports our national impact, for continuous improvement, accountability, evidence and advocacy.
  • Our business and investment model is viable for the future.

2. Galvanise membership to advocate for young women and women’s housing, support services and systems change.

A membership organisation’s success depends on its ability to organise people around an idea or cause. Members bring passion and energy, knowledge and networks. YWCA brings identity, structure and a community.

3 – 5 YEAR DELIVERY OUTCOMES

  • A broad membership base that demonstrates our national reach and voice.
  • An active member network that undertakes advocacy campaigns at local, regional, and national level.
  • Our advocacy campaigns are tied to our purpose and focus on housing and homelessness as well as safety, with an intersectional feminist lens.
  • Our amplified voice is credible and influences systemic change.
3. Deliver safe, affordable housing and referral pathways for young women and women.

YWCA is an established community housing provider across Victoria, Northern Territory and Queensland. While we don’t exclusively house women due to our legacy, they do represent over 80% of our tenants.

3 – 5 YEAR DELIVERY OUTCOMES

  • A clearly articulated feminist housing approach informed by the gendered and intersectional drivers of housing risk, pathways, unmet needs and requirements.
  • YWCA as a national housing provider, with housing in regions beyond our current footprint.
  • Residents are assisted through established referral networks to access appropriate supports that meet their needs.

4. Provide case management and support to young women and women at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.

This will focus on young women and women at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness (as guided by our Theory of Change). This includes programs such as homelessness, housing support, targeted early intervention and specific domestic, family violence.

3 – 5 YEAR DELIVERY OUTCOMES

  • Our case management and support services assist our beneficiaries by addressing the gendered and intersectional drivers of homelessness and housing risk.
  • We grow our specialist services incrementally, to address current market gaps and unmet needs.
  • Targeted early intervention programs for young women and women at housing risk.
5. Create tailored leadership pathways for young women with lived experience in homelessness and housing risk.

This recognises that young women with lived experience have unique and valuable knowledge and expertise to share. It recognises the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’, and ensures the organisation is informed and grounded by lived experience in our planning, delivery and impact.

3 – 5 YEAR DELIVERY OUTCOMES

  • A series of co-designed leadership opportunities for young women with lived experience in homelessness and housing risk.
  • Lived experience and leadership informs our governance, strategy, research and advocacy, policy and service practice.
  • We are a go-to for stakeholders and decision-makers who seek to engage with the lived experiences of young women in housing and homelessness risk.

Find a lane and stick to it

YWCA Member, taken from the 2020 Re-imagining the Y member survey

Why is this change needed?

Access to safe, secure and affordable housing is a fundamental human right and driver for gender equality
Young women, women and people of marginalised genders disproportionately experience housing stress and instability, challenges accessing safe and affordable housing, and the risks of homelessness. The majority of people accessing specialist homelessness services are women (60%) and they are most frequently aged 25 – 34 years old (AIHW 2020).

Housing and homelessness are intersectional feminist issues

There is a critical need for specialist feminist housing responses and supports that understands intersectional housing pathways and address existing and unmet needs. This includes a deep understanding of how family and domestic violence affects housing needs and pathways, support requirements and wellbeing. Targeted early intervention is required.

There is an additional priority need for systems and structural change, to deliver a future where gender equality is a reality.

This must be led by young women in all their diversity and people of marginalised genders, bringing their lived experience to advocacy and leadership for change.

In 2019 YWCA National Housing conducted a study with 1,040 women across regional Australia, including 190 women from Victoria (18.3%). The study highlighted the challenges for women on low to moderate incomes in regional areas:

  • Almost 1 in 5 (18%) reported their current housing situation was not appropriate or suitable for them
  • 19% say they do not feel secure in their current housing
  • 1 in 8 women (13%) report they have been homeless in the last five years
  • 1 in 5 women know at least one other woman who is currently homeless
  • 60% of people accessing specialist homelessness services were women (AIHW 2020)
  • 9 out of 10 women accessing specialist homelessness services had experienced family and domestic violence

What’s next?

This is a big change. And one we will implement together with our teams, members, funders and supporters.

Our YeS 2026 is vitally important to gender equity, and we will need your support to ensure we continue serving the needs of young women and women into the future. We are listening, we are learning, and together we will build a stronger YWCA.

Do you have questions that you would like to ask on the YeS 2026 Strategy? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or submit a question of your own at the bottom of the FAQ page.

You can ask questions anonymously if you would like. However, if you would like a response, please provide some contact details.