The past year has been one of the most challenging years in the Y Victoria’s 176-year history. We entered 2020 as a nation devastated by the bushfires raging across Australia. Then, as we began to recover from a tragic summer, the global coronavirus pandemic turned everything we had planned, both at work and in our personal lives, upside down.
We are one of the world’s oldest community not-for-profits and many of our programs and services operate face to face. Unfortunately, this meant that some of the industries we work in have been among the hardest hit. With 90% of our operations grinding to a halt in March 2020, we sadly had to stand down 90% of our staff until further notice.
When JobKeeper was announced, our payroll, people and culture and IT teams worked hard to pull off an impressive feat of administering this complex (and life-saving) wage subsidy to thousands of our staff.
Despite such major setbacks, the Y proved itself as a resilient, determined and resourceful organisation. We successfully launched Virtual Y, an online platform where our programs and services adapted to an online delivery model, including fitness on demand, a youth timetable and virtual camping experiences.
Everything we have achieved is thanks to the dedication and strength of our people. It hasn’t been easy, but we have come out the other side as a stronger, more unified Y.
Putting safety first is always our number one priority, and our commitment to working alongside governments to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect our most vulnerable and support the wellbeing of our people has never faltered. But we know the economic, social and mental health outcomes of a lengthy lockdown have put into sharp focus the inequalities that exist in our societal structures.
We will all feel the impacts of this pandemic for years to come, but it is young people who have been disproportionally impacted. Unemployment is at an all-time high, mental health is at an all-time low. The Y has done everything it can to survive this year so we can be there to support young people and our communities now and in the future, as we move towards recovery.
This year has been unlike any other and the biggest of thank yous go to each and every staff member and volunteer who contributed during this extremely challenging time. Our essential workers in YMCA Children’s Programs who provided care for families, our staff who were stood down, our staff and volunteers who put in countless hours online to provide support to the organisation and our communities: thank you.
This annual report covers the financial year of 2019-2020, as well as a few stories that fall outside of this period. After such a big year, we couldn’t keep some of the stories from the Y over the last couple of months saved until next year’s report, so we have included them in this one.
Please enjoy and thank you for reading.
Messages from our leaders
My first full year as CEO of YMCA Victoria and Kingswim has been unlike anything I ever could have imagined. The leadership team and I had to make some of toughest decisions of our careers and I am truly grateful for the support of our whole Y community: staff, volunteers, our Board, our local council partners, our customers, members and participants – everybody who has the Y in their lives and had to make a sacrifice this year for the greater good.
Unprecedented. It’s probably the most overused word in 2020, but accurately describes the devastating events we as Victorians, as a nation and as a globe have experienced this year. Before I reflect on the year that was, I want to thank our staff and volunteers. Your hard work and dedication is always inspiring, but this year you have shown incredible resilience and made sacrifices that have helped the Y get through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to put into words how grateful and appreciative I am of you.