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Happy 135th to Us!

As early as 1888, YWCA were housing young women in our first property on Spring Street and running variety of classes-  everything from French, dance and gymnastics to health and sexual education. We’ve also been assisting migrants and immigrants to feel safe and welcome in Australia by providing housing and education from as early as 1910.

It sounds strange, but it was pretty revolutionary at the time to get behind women’s sports in the 30’s. By this time, sports and health had become a focus for the YWCA with a number of basketball, hockey, tennis, rowing and fencing clubs established. This tradition continues in our golf and rowing clubs today.

During the Great Depression and both World Wars, the Y stepped up and provided housing and meals to thousands of people, services to women in the forces and hundreds of workers to labour at home in the Garden Army.

We also started youth camps and “teen only” hostels in the 50’s as well as “Young Wives” clubs in the 60’s to combat suburban isolation. After this, we began our greater focus on housing by building Richmond House, which houses 69 women and is still going strong today! Of course, we continue to increase our housing capacity and currently provide safe and affordable homes for 250+ at-risk  women across Victoria.

In the 70s, we also started to get REAL POLITICAL, focusing on the rights of women in the workplace, childcare and reproductive rights. We’re still doing that today!

Recently, of course, we’ve been focusing on great initiatives like our ASISTA mentoring program, childcare for migrant women, our Pathways to Independence program which assists older women at risk of homelessness and grassroots community events such as feminist talks, forums and cultural activities.

Revisiting the past also makes us all here at YVic even more enthusiastic about the upcoming national merger and what amazing achievements will unfold in the next 135 years.