As a valued member or stakeholder, we understand you may have questions about the new strategy. Below are questions that have already been asked. If you’ve got a question that isn’t answered below, please submit it to the form at the bottom of the page.
On 14 April 2021, YWCA Australia announced our ‘Re-imagining the Y’ five-year strategy – the YWCA Evolve Strategy, or as we like to call it, YeS 2026.
YeS 2026 is comprised of four stages.
- The ‘Envision’ stage took place between September 2020 and February 2021. Our Executive Team and Board considered feedback from teams, members and experts to focus our social impact and set a revised five-year strategy.
- The ‘Ignite’ stage is the six-week period from mid-April until the end of May 2021 designed to share the details of YeS 2026 with our teams, valued members, and the public.
- Our ‘Design’ stage begins June 2021 and will last until March 2022. We’ll be designing ‘how’ the focus will shift, with considerable input from our teams and our members. During this time, we will respectfully and transparently plan any transitions and ensure consistent, transparent and clear communications. We will examine everything we do and highlight areas where we think we can grow, and areas we may need to change or transition, to realign our day-to-day operations with our new strategy. This stage will also show us what won’t be changing and how we are progressing over time.
- ‘Enact’ will be the final stage, taking place from 2022 until 2026. Over time, we’ll smoothly transition into our new strategy, amplifying our voice and growing our impact.
A future where gender equality is a reality. This is in line with our current vision, though simplified, and is also in line with World YWCA’s goals.
This ambitious vision is predicted to take 100 years to achieve at the current rate of change and we will contribute to making it happen.
Making young women’s leadership and women’s housing our priority for gender equity in Australia. This is narrowed from YWCA’s previous purpose, which we believe provides clarity going forward.
Our purpose acknowledges:
a) 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.
b) Young women’s leadership and women’s housing are the priority issues YWCA will respond to, and impact.
c) We will serve young women and women, including people of marginalised genders, as the primary beneficiaries of the Y’s work. We understand that girls may be secondary beneficiaries of our work.
d) We see our role to impact gender equity, as you can’t achieve equality without equity.
1. Young women and women experience increased wellbeing, safety and security in their homes.
2. Young women lead policy and systems change for effective housing pathways and social supports.
We need to ensure that everything we do is building towards these two long-term goals.
Our five ‘Core Activities,’ will ensure we are focused on the right activities, those aligned to our purpose, to deliver impact.
The five core activities are:
1. Apply an intersectional feminist approach to achieve sustainability and impact.
2. Galvanise membership to advocate for young women and women’s housing, support services and systems change.
3. Deliver safe, affordable housing and referral pathways for young women and women.
4. Provide case management and support to young women and women at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
5. Create tailored leadership pathways for young women with lived experiences in homelessness and housing risk.
YeS 2026 does mean that over time we will be transitioning out of services and programs that are not aligned with YeS 2026.
Evolution is part of the YWCA DNA. 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 advocate for gender equity, to make progress towards gender equality.
We are confident that this strategy will increase our ability to deliver real impact for young women and women in Australia long into the future.
No. Certainly we will be building on the strengths and expertise we already have in housing, and we will grow in this area.
One of our long-term goals is that young women and women experience increased wellbeing, safety and security in their homes. We have identified four other core activity areas, in addition to housing, to progress towards achieving that outcome.
Many programs will still be relevant. For example, family and domestic violence programs.
Over the years we’ve made significant progress as we’ve gone through several evolutions, adapting to the ever-changing issues impacting women.
COVID-19 also highlighted vulnerabilities. We determined we needed to thrive, not just survive.
The significant and important work completed by the Y during our 2018 merger was revisited, which focused on Sustainability and Impact to create the best possible Y.
Our Board believed YWCA’s current purpose, strategy and activities were too broad, which led to a lack of clarity and focus. To grow our strength as an organisation, there was a need to focus and narrow our activities to areas we are confident will drive systemic change. There was a need to consolidate, be clear on who we serve and align client service offerings to clear outcomes, to ensure we achieve our purpose.
We also need an organisation that, financially, structurally and culturally is tailored to support our purpose and strategy.
Finally, living and delivering intersectional feminism internally and externally will change how YWCA operates. We need not only to sustain but amplify intersectional feminism.
Housing is a feminist issue. We considered the top 10 gender equality issues facing young women and women in Australia today, and landed on housing and homelessness, with lived experience leadership in order to maximise impact.
By focusing in these areas, we can build on our strength of ensuring the voices of young women are heard. We also have a long and proud history in the provision of safe accommodation to women.
Largely, a lot of our systems in Australia see affordable housing needs and homelessness issues as genderless issues and that simply isn’t true.
Access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing is a human right and a critical issue for young women and LGBTIQ people, First Nations women, women with disabilities, women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, children and the economy.
It is fundamental to social, educational, and economic participation and the realisation of gender equality.
Housing should be a source of stability, safety, social connection, and a pathway to economic security for young women and women. Australia’s housing crisis is disproportionately impacting young women and women. In the last 20 years we have seen the landscape change.
Now more women than men access housing support: 60 per cent to 40 per cent.
Overwhelmingly domestic violence is one of the key drivers of housing insecurity and in fact 86 per cent of women who sought assistance indicated domestic violence was a key factor.
Our understanding of intersectional feminism is evolving, and we have a lot to learn and consider as we go forward. We have identified an intersectional feminist lens as one of our core focus areas – and we look forward to working with others during the Design stage, to develop an intersectional feminist framework we can apply across our culture, decision making, systems, policies and actions.
Gender equality requires systems thinking and systems change. We need to understand how systems, structures and processes can drive different outcomes and experiences for women in all their diversity and people of marginalised genders. Intersectionality addresses and centres differential and gendered drivers of gender inequality. Intersectionality considers historical, social and political contexts and recognises the discrimination and oppression enforced by systems on individuals and their experiences.
We cannot achieve gender equality without an intersectional lens in all that we do, advocate for and seek to change.
We are known for providing targeted services for young women and women. We are the ‘go to’ partner and young women are significantly represented in need. Our point of differentiation is that we are shining a light on gaps in existing services for young women and women, and finding ways to address them.
We challenge how homelessness risk is understood for women. Alongside challenging myths that homelessness approaches should be ‘genderless,’ we demonstrate the value of targeted early intervention case management; particularly where domestic violence is a driver.
Our housing, advocacy and service delivery strategies dovetail to maximise our impact. Through our existing work, we have seen incremental growth built on our specialist knowledge and credibility. In turn, this creates pathway to economic security for women, young women and marginalised genders.
There is a key opportunity to respond to the complexity in housing requirements, by developing gender-responsive models with an intersectional feminist lens.
This requires us to look beyond the demographics and mainstream models of provision and workforces.
It requires us to recognise and understand the needs of women in all their diversity and people of marginalised genders, who are disproportionately represented across indicators of housing stress, housing insecurity, risk of and experiences of homelessness.
The critical transformative shifts we need to see requires feminist housing and supports that are tailored, flexible and responsive.
During the Design stage, we will seek opportunities to grow in regional and rural areas (as well as metro areas) where services and housing for young women, women and marginalised genders is lacking. We see this as progressive growth over the coming five years.
We are applying for an exemption to these regulations.
Young women’s leadership remains a core part of the YWCA’s activities and this will not change.
Housing advocacy is only a small part of how we envision young women’s leadership growing and expanding. Under the new strategy, we will be innovating our service offerings and challenging housing models.
To do this work, we will be working with young women with lived experience to design services and programs that will benefit young women the most.
At present we don’t know what this will look like; the Design stage will involve considerable consultation to ensure that young women are involved in identifying their needs and concerns.
No redundancies have been announced. We are in discussions with our team members about the service impact, so speculating at this time would not be useful. Changes will take place over a period of time, potentially years, with many programs continuing until the end of the current contract.
Each program will have their own transition-out approach and we will work with our teams to ensure a smooth transition and transfer of knowledge.
Leaders play a key role in supporting the wellbeing of their team members. We are committed to supporting our team members and have introduced several measures to do this at both a local and organisational level. This includes regular catchups, virtual Q&A sessions, publishing supporting materials on our intranet, access to our wellbeing/mental health portal, and free access to our third party Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Advocacy remains very important to the Y, the same as it has been for the last 140+ years. Together as one force, we can advocate together across Australia for collective change.
Our advocacy will have a narrower focus. Currently we are stretched across seven advocacy platforms.
To have a clear voice we will focus on intersectionality and safety and how these interact or fit within the five core activities of YeS 2026.
Certain issues will be advocated on when they intersect with policy and systems change for young women and women’s housing and social supports.
As a feminist organisation, we will support other organisations’ gender equality campaigns more broadly, however most of our focus will be as outlined above.
We value members. Thanks to our legacy, YWCA is first and foremost a membership organisation.
Members bring passion and energy, knowledge and networks. YWCA brings identity, structure and experience. We have prioritised membership engagement in YeS 2026 through: Galvanising membership to advocate for young women and women’s housing, support services and systems change.
It’s important to remember that we will not just be a housing organisation. Housing is one of five core activities aimed at achieving progress towards our long-term outcomes, which includes increasing the wellbeing, safety and security of young women and women in their homes.
Members from pre-merger associations often have strong ties to the causes that they advocated for. While this evolution of the Y may not continue to actively pursue those causes, we recognise the important work that was done before us and its continued relevance.
We hope to inspire our members to collect behind our revised purpose so that together we can challenge for change.
We’d love your input! We will hold coordinated activities such as workshops, working groups, surveys and focus groups.
There will be a bias for action. We don’t want this Stage to turn into meetings for meetings’ sake or long workshops with no outcomes. We also need to be practical, so we will work towards recommendations that can feasibly be implemented soon.
By engaging with members during the Design stage, we can better prepare for advocating for bold, systemic change – just as we always have.
We will continue to provide members with more information about how you can get involved throughout the Design stage.
Thanks for your interest – we’d love to have you on board! You can join here.
Please reach out to us through our social media channels, submit a question in the form below or email YeS2026@ywca.org.au. We appreciate your patience and your support.
We know that teams and members have expressed feeling siloed, and this is not our intention. We have explored the idea of meetings rather than webinars in depth. However, to create a truly safe space for both participants and hosts, we need a way to be able to moderate questions appropriately. This also ensures that we have a record of what was asked and when, so that we can respond appropriately. It also allows people to be heard in a respectful fashion, without confusion and interruption.
Both teams and members are encouraged to continue asking questions through webinars, the YeS 2026 email or through the form on our website. And as we progress through the Design stage, there will be a variety of meeting and communications options to engage with.
Admittedly, a small percentage of our current Senior Leadership team is made up of young women aged between 18-30. However, we are addressing this by prioritising input from our Young Women’s Council and younger members during the Design stage. Future recruitment and succession planning will also provide an opportunity to address this.
We are an evolving intersectional feminist organisation and we have been transparent about not having all the answers at this stage. We are working on providing a definition which will take into account all of the diverse identities of the young women, women and marginalised genders we work with.
We continue to support the YWCA globally. They share our vision of a future where gender equality is a reality.
The strategy as announced in April 2021 is set. However, those wishing to make their contributions to the future of the Y within those defined parameters are encourage and welcome to participate in the Design stage.
The Young Women’s Council and their contributions are highly valued as per the YWC charter.
Young women will be engaged across the business, so we are not hiring a Young Women’s Engagement Manager at this stage. However, we are currently recruiting for a Young Women’s Council Co-ordinator, interim. We will consistently collaborate with the Young Women’s Council and engage with our membership which includes a large cohort of younger women.
The Board and Executive team have set up a Working Group who are developing the YeS 2026 financial principles and business operating model. This will be completed during the Design stage, once we have received input for how best to implement the strategy.
Many of our services and programs are impacted by government policies and funding. We have analysed the budget and are in the process of assessing how it will affect the strategy implementation. The budget announcement will factor into the Design stage where necessary.
During the Ignite stage, we identified program categories that did not align with our future strategy, such as school-based mentoring programs. During the Design stage, we will identify which of our current programs fall under those identified categories, which ones are renewable contracts and which ones are ending without a renewal option. Programs with renewal options will then be quantified to determine loss of revenue and the effects of such on the funded workforce.
A strategic decision of this nature took into account various different stakeholders as far as was practical. Membership engagement remains a priority moving forward – you will be an integral part of our Design stage.
We will be providing further details on 16 and 17 June. There will be plenty of opportunities for members to have their say and make meaningful contributions. Communication with members is a two-way proposition.
As part of our engagement framework, life members will be involved throughout all stages of the new strategy’s implementation. In addition, we have ensured to provide life members with dedicated communication, including mailouts, and we will continue to involve them throughout the process. Life members – thank you for your support and dedication!
YWCA holds an Annual General Meeting (AGM). All members are invited and encouraged to participate.
Your contributions will greatly impact the future direction of the Y. The more you can contribute during the Design stage, the more you will help to shape the financial and staffing decisions taken going forward.
We have prioritised membership engagement in YeS 2026 within our current structure.
Within the Design stage, members will have the opportunity to shape our future activities, within the limits of the set strategy. Once we have established some clear ideas, budgeting and resourcing will be reviewed.
Do you have questions that you would like to ask on the YeS 2026 Strategy? Please complete the form below.
You can ask questions anonymously if you would like. However, if you would like a response, please provide some contact details.