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Lifting the lid on diabetes rates in Brisbane

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With diagnoses increasing at a higher rate than both heart disease and cancer, diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic condition.

Today, one in 20 Australians are living with type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 85% of all diabetes diagnoses.

Where type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, type 2 is developed over time and is often linked to ‘unhealthy’ lifestyles such as obesity, inactivity, and poor diet. Of all type 2 diagnoses, 60%of cases are considered preventable with simple lifestyle changes.

Despite the condition’s preventability, we find ourselves in a ‘21st century epidemic’.

With reach throughout the state, Y Queensland have not only observed the impacts of diabetes in our immediate communities but have seen the benefits of engagement and healthy lifestyles on individuals through our services.

We know that there is work that can be done to create happy, healthy, and connected communities, and it starts on our doorstep in South East Queensland.

Last month, we published a study on the need and desire for a type 2 diabetes prevention program in our South East Queensland communities. Teaming up with The University of Queensland (UQ) to conduct our research, we wanted to better understand the risk profiles of the people we engage with every day through our facilities, and their interest in diabetes prevention programs.

Collecting community responses

Our survey was delivered to our community through an anonymous survey. Using the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool, our aim was to better understand a participant’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next five years.

This tool uses responses to various demographic (e.g., age) and behaviour (e.g., physical activity) questions to develop a risk score, with the higher the score, the higher the risk.

We also asked participants if they would be interested in taking part in a diabetes prevention program. To help prioritise our offerings, we also asked their postcode, Y membership status, and their nearest Y branch. The survey was promoted for four weeks , and this is what we uncovered.

The results

A total of 575 people took part in the survey. All participants in the study were currently engaged in our centres—with 20 locations taking part in the research.

We found:

  • 41% of respondents had a diabetes diagnosis within their immediate family and / or had a personal history of high glucose levels
  • 37% of respondents measured for one or more high risk factors in their lifestyle (ie, smoking, limited fruit and vegetable consumption, not meeting minimum weekly exercise requirements)
  • 38% of respondents were found to be at high-risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next 5 years.
  • 48% of respondents had a waist measurement which fell into either the medium-risk or high-risk category.
  • Respondents who reported living in relatively disadvantaged areas were more likely to score in the high-risk category for diabetes.

For our Group Manager for Fitness and Recreation, Michael Tsiamis, these results present an opportunity.

“Y centres and gyms across the Greater South East Queensland region are embedded in community and have remained highly attended across all locations despite COVID-19, cost of living, or geographic distance,” he said.

“We have a responsibility in our communities to not only address diabetes, but demonstrate that healthy, connected, and happy lifestyles are possible through our accessible fitness programs.”

When asked their personal interest in a healthy lifestyle diabetes prevention program, 68% of respondents demonstrated an interest, with those who were more at risk sharing a comparatively higher level of interest.  

Michael said that interest and appetite is the first step for uptake, referencing the Y’s unique (and popular) fitness program for Cancer Survivors which responded to a niche need in community.

Our learnings

With diabetes so deeply embedded in the Australian health landscape, it is time to act—and it starts in our community centres and gyms.

Our research with UQ identified that there is both a need and a desire for diabetes prevention programs to be delivered in the community.

For the whole Y team, this research marks the start of a new journey under our continued efforts to empower our community through engaged, healthy, and happy outcomes.

Our Y Queensland CEO, Damian Foley, sees further opportunity for us in research, planning, and development of diabetes prevention programs.

“We’re looking forward to utilising our findings to empower our people so that our communities and their loved ones take control of their health outcomes through the support of Y centres and gyms across the state,” he said.

“Our joint study with UQ has forged a valuable pathway to address what it confirmed as a widespread issue in Queensland, and we are committed to harnessing this momentum.”

Whilst continuing to support our communities, we also look forward to helping ‘lift the lid’ on diabetes in South East Queensland, and integrating prevention measures into our services.

We are continuing our partnership with UQ to trial the Small Steps for Big Changes diabetes prevention program. This program will be trialled in four centres—Caloundra, Bowen Hills, Warwick, and Victoria Point.  

Professor Genevieve Healy, who is the Australian lead of the trial and was senior author on the study, is enthusiastic about the opportunities and learnings the partnership can provide for communities in South East Queensland.

“Our initial study showed that there was both a need and a desire for diabetes prevention programs like Small Steps for Big Changes in the Y community. We are excited about working in partnership with the Y to help understand how this brief diet and exercise program can be sustainably delivered, and the impacts of it on health and wellbeing,” she said.

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7 Million Milestone for YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program

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The YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program reached an incredible milestone this year, celebrating more than 7 million free breakfasts served since the program began in 2006.

One thing that has remained constant throughout the program’s 17-year history, however, is its dedication and mission to reducing the number of students disadvantaged by hunger and poor nutrition in schools across Southeast Queensland.

YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program Manager, Amanda Maystone-Towell, said her team is proud of the work they do together “to help over 13,500 children each week”.

Amanda Maystone-Towell (YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program Manager) at the program's warehouse in Kingston.

“Knowing children are attending school, starting classes with a full tummy ready to learn and be engaged with their school community is the most gratifying experience for us,” Amanda said.

“We often stop to consider the impact of what we do and reflect on the value of the social impact to children, families and their futures the Y supports.”

Amanda says research shows “regular and consistent access to healthy breakfast options makes children feel valued and sees them thrive”, with positive impacts on classroom behaviour and academic performance.

“With a full tummy children can focus on their learning and work at hand… rather than feeling defeated when hunger is all that is consuming them,” Amanda said.

“We also know that engaged education creates better positive outcomes for the children, linking this to further education and long-term employment prospects.”

Feedback from school staff also highlights how the program enhances student engagement and school connectedness.

“Relationships with teachers, faculty and their peers, as a whole school community can be stronger,” Amanda said.

The operation and logistics of the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program is powered by a small, core team of three staff members, four casual delivery drivers and one tireless volunteer “who has been a support for our program since 2012,” Amanda said.

With the generous support of Foodbank Queensland, Clem Jones Group and Club Southside, as well as local sponsors and volunteers, YMCA is able to provide all equipment, food, supplies and delivery at no cost to participating schools.

“We couldn’t do our work without the Donors and Sponsors who support our program,” Amanda said.

While the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program started with just five schools in Logan in 2006, the program now reaches 169 schools and stretches across South East Queensland.

“We always aim to ‘never say no’ to a school,” Amanda said.

To learn more about the YMCA Schools' Breakfast Program, or to find out how you can volunteer or make a donation, visit ymcabrisbane.org/services/schools-breakfast-program.

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ABC Interviews YMCA Social Impact Manager

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YMCA Social Impact Manager, Gary Adsett, interviews with ABC Radio Brisbane on 24 December 2019. Listen to the recording of the interview below.

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Brisbane Festival Dance Hall at The Y Cannon Hill Community Centre

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The Y Cannon Hill (YMCA Cannon Hill) Community Centre is proud to partner with the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to present Dance Halls as part of Brisbane Festival 2022.

Dance Halls is led by the unstoppable creators of world famous cabaret variety shows, Finucane & Smith, who have played to 600,000 fans in 18 countries, combining entertainment with community-driven practice.

Join us for a night of global talent, local artistry, irresistible music, festoons, fan-dancing and more. This performance is completely community orientated and bound to be unforgettable.

The show will also feature Elements Collective and hip hop dancers who participated in dance workshops at YMCA Cannon Hill Community Centre in the lead up to this exciting Brisbane Festival event!

Date: 6.00pm - 8.00pm, Friday 16 September 2022
Venue: YMCA Cannon Hill Community Centre, 18 Lang St, Cannon Hill
Tickets: SOLD OUT (please click here to join the waitlist) 

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Bundaberg opening marks 10th campus for YMCA Vocational School

Damian Foley (CEO, YMCA Queensland), Lily (YMCA Vocational School student), Heather Allan (President, YMCA Queensland Board), Rella Taylor-Byrne (YMCA Vocational School Principal) and Hon Keith Pitt MP (Federal Member for Hinkler) at the official opening of the YMCA Vocational School Bundaberg Senior Campus.

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YMCA Queensland has officially opened its 10th Vocational School campus, in response to the increasing need for alternative education pathways for students in the State.

The new $6+ million Vocational School senior campus, located in Bundaberg, was officially opened at a ceremony on Thursday 27 July 2023.

The campus is already empowering more than 30 students in years 10–12 on their journey to employment, with enrolment numbers growing rapidly.

Shelly Flemmet (School Administrator, YMCA Vocational School), Richard Begg (Wellbeing Caseworker, YMCA Vocational School), Jack (YMCA Vocational School student), Nicole Hawkins (Senior Youth Worker), Jana Hadlow (Business Services Manager), Rella Taylor-Byrne (YMCA Vocational School Principal) and Katie Taylor (School Administrator, YMCA Vocational School).

“The demand for our School has grown exponentially since inception due to an increasing need and our overwhelmingly positive impact on students and their families,” said YMCA Vocational School Principal, Rella Taylor-Byrne.

“Our mission is to positively engage young people in education and lifelong learning in an inclusive environment, empowering them to become well rounded, confident and healthy human beings who are able to gain employment or enter into further education.”

Tony Castro (Director, the Y Bundaberg Board), Toolah Olsen (Vice President, YMCA Queensland Board), Heather Allan (President, YMCA Queensland Board), Lynne Forgan (President, the Y Bundaberg Board) and Tim Sayre (the Y Bundaberg Board).

With nine well-established campuses already supporting students across South East Queensland, the Y identified a need to extend its reach and support to students further north in the State.

“The Y completed extensive research to establish that there was a need for additional opportunities for individualised education in the local [Bundaberg] community,” said Jana Hadlow, the Y Queensland Business Services Manager.

“We continue to grow, evolve and adapt to remain effective in catering for the changing needs of our young people in an agile landscape and unique communities,” Ms Taylor-Byrne said.

Jana Hadlow, (Business Services Manager, YMCA Queensland), Jack Dempsey (Mayor, Bundaberg Regional Council) and Damian Foley (CEO, YMCA Queensland)

More than $6 million has been invested into the new Vocational School campus, with $1,450,000 of funding received from the Australian Government under the Capital Grants Program (CGP) and $118,000 in Commonwealth EIS Funding.

The YMCA Vocational School promotes a flexible, supportive learning environment for young people, especially tailored to those who struggle in conventional classrooms.

A classroom set up at the YMCA Vocational School Bundaberg Senior Campus.

Each campus offers an adjusted education program for students to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education and gain vocational certificates, in a unique, supportive learning environment that focuses on individual needs.

The YMCA Vocational School has campuses located in Acacia Ridge, Bundamba, Ipswich, Kingston, Mango Hill, North Lakes, Parkinson and Victoria Point.

Enrolments for the YMCA Vocational School are open all year round.

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Celebrating NAIDOC Week at Y Queensland

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NAIDOC Week, held from 7 to 14 July 2024, is a special time for all Australians to celebrate and recognise the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This year’s theme, "Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud," highlights the enduring strength and vitality of Indigenous cultures, calling everyone to stand in solidarity and amplify the voices that have long been silenced.

Stories from Our Community

As part of the celebration, we asked some of our First Nations staff and volunteers for their insights:
Debbie, a Waanyi woman and Community Engagement Administrator at The Buzz Community Centre, emphasises the importance of NAIDOC Week in maintaining and preserving culture. "The theme to me means celebrating culture," she shares.
Issy, a youth member from the Southern Downs in the Queensland Youth Parliament, sees the theme as a call for unity and pride. "Be proud, be loud, and be yourself. Don't shy away from your heritage; it's yours, so own it," she advises younger generations.

Kait, a proud Bundjalung woman and youth member for Lockyer in the Queensland Youth Parliament, encourages embracing one's culture. "No matter how much you know about your culture, just do what you can and be proud of it. Try to get involved," she says. Kait also shared how she helped organised NAIDOC Week celebrations at a school, educating young children about First Nations history and culture through fun activities.

Celebrations Across Y Queensland Centres

Here’s how some of our centers celebrated NAIDOC Week:
  • Miami OSHC created a “community tree” artwork to symbolise connection, led by a First Nations educator.
  • Cheeky Monkeys Playgroup enjoyed activities like Rainbow Serpent Collages and Aboriginal Dot Painting.
  • Edens Landing OSHC painted hands in the colors of the Aboriginal flag, forming a flame to reflect the theme. A Cultural Infusion program during Vacation Care helped deepen children’s understanding of Indigenous culture.
  • The Y Acacia Ridge Early Learning Centre emphasised learning about First Nations history, culture, and achievements. Educators and children built a visual fire out of sticks and handprints, learned songs like “Taba Naba” and “Inanay,” and explored Dreamtime stories and the significance of the flags. They also walked together inspired by the “Walking Together” episode on Play School.
  • Brisbane South Junior engaged in various activities, including creating artwork, making polymer clay earrings, and cooking a ‘Bush Tucker’ feast with Indigenous chef Marnie Parker. With 34% of students identifying as First Nations, Brisbane South Junior is proud to support their awareness and connection to Indigenous culture.

Committing to Cultural Heritage

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and to participate in celebrations of the oldest continuous living cultures on earth. Through our collective efforts, we can forge a future where the stories, traditions, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are cherished and celebrated, enriching the fabric of our nation. At YMCA Queensland, we are committed to celebrating and learning about the rich traditions of Australia’s First Nations people, igniting a renewed commitment to acknowledging, preserving, and sharing this cultural heritage.
Join us in celebrating NAIDOC Week and honoring the unyielding spirit of our communities. Keep the fire burning—Blak, loud, and proud!

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Celebrations Across Y Queensland Centres

Here’s how some of our centers celebrated NAIDOC Week:
  • Miami OSHC created a “community tree” artwork to symbolise connection, led by a First Nations educator.

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Future looks bright for solar powered Community Centre

Michele Meredith (Group Manager – Childcare Services), Damian Foley (YMCA Brisbane CEO), Alison Clark (Acting Community Services Manager), Meaghan Scanlon MP (Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef, Science and Youth Affairs) and Wendy Blackmon (Community Support Worker) point to the roof of the Y's Cannon Hill Community Centre, where 72 solar panels have been installed to harness energy from the sun.

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‘Sustainable planet’ is one of YMCA’s four global pillars to create a better world... but what does that look like on a local level for the Y Brisbane and its locations across the ‘Sunshine State’?

For the YMCA Cannon Hill Community Centre, it looks like a bright future thanks to solar power.

With the generous support of the Queensland Government and their Community Sustainability Action Grant, the Community Centre has installed a 29.88KW Solar System with 72 solar panels to harness energy during the 300+ days of sunshine in Brisbane each year.

On Wednesday 11 January 2023, Meaghan Scanlon MP (Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef, Science and Youth Affairs) visited Cannon Hill to meet with staff and learn firsthand how the solar panels are making a positive impact at the Centre.

Since the panels were installed in October 2022, the Centre has already reduced its emissions by 1 tonne in the last quarter.

The Centre is also expected to save more than $8,900 on its 2023 electricity bill.

Wendy Blackmon (YMCA Cannon Hill Community Support Worker) said the savings will go directly back into the Centre’s community programs, which support “some of the most vulnerable members of our community”.

Wendy explained that the Community Centre’s social groups, which play “a big part in reducing social isolation and providing a safe space to build human connections”, are just some of the programs that will benefit from the savings.

Extra funds will also go towards the Centre’s ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’ crisis support program, which Wendy said “supports over 50 people every week with food parcels, toiletries, clothing and community meals”.

Alison Clark (Acting Community Services Manager), Meaghan Scanlon MP (Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef, Science and Youth Affairs), Damian Foley (YMCA Brisbane CEO) and Wendy Blackmon (Community Support Worker) tour the Y Cannon Hill Community Centre. 

An aerial view of the Y Cannon Hill Community Centre roof and solar panels

Aerial view of the Y Cannon Hill Community Centre's 72 solar panels.

Close up view of the Y Cannon Hill Community Centre's solar panels on a sunny, blue sky day

Close up of the Y Cannon Hill Community Centre's solar panels.

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Introducing Stage 2 of YMCA Redlands Vocational School

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Building on the success of our vocational school in the Redlands, we are planning an expansion to provide another new safe and purpose-built space for young people.

Building Stage 2 of the existing facility will enable us to respond to the demand for a safe and purpose-built space for up to 100 young people aged 12 to 14 who would benefit from an alternative learning environment.

We currently have 80 students enrolled in the vocational school in grades 10 - 12, and around 50 students on campus each day.

Click here to read more about YMCA Vocational School

At the Y, we believe that all young people have the right to achieve their full potential regardless of their circumstances.

We understand that the development of the whole person is most important. We know that this holistic approach to education is best delivered through a flexible individualised learning environment.

The proposed expansion of the vocational school will provide an opportunity for more young people to access a safe and adaptable learning environment in the Redlands.

The proposed facility will be built next to the current vocational school building. It will be a single storey building, which will include new flexible spaces to enable cross-functional use, and a screened recreation area.

Widespread benefits

The proposed facility will also create more useable space for the community to access. Outside of school hours, both school buildings will be used to run community programs as well as being made available to the wider community for hire.

The youth hub operates a safe environment for young people, aged 12–25, to run activities and recreation events.

The proposed facility will:

  • create more useable space for the community to access, where young people can connect through activated spaces and tailored programs
  • provide more social and educational infrastructure for the community
  • provide access to vocational education, and a journey to employment, for young people who would benefit from the facility.

Delivering a new community asset

To provide these improved facilities for our young people, YMCA will request that the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning designates our premises for the development of infrastructure for educational facilities through the Ministerial Infrastructure Designation (MID) process.

The MID process is an alternative assessment pathway to lodging a development application with local government. Instead of applying for approval from Redlands City Council, we will be applying to the Minister.

A MID provides for the timely delivery of essential community infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and healthcare services.

To support the MID proposal a range of technical assessments are undertaken. These assessments help us to understand the possible impacts of the development and how these impacts would be addressed.

All the documents supporting a request for a MID are included in a single ‘environmental assessment report’. This report refers to both the built and natural environment of the area, and includes the findings of the technical assessments.

YMCA is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. Applying for a MID provides an opportunity for us to save costs associated with Council’s development assessment process, which we can then reinvest into the facility and our students.

Writing an environmental assessment report

The requirements for requesting a MID are set in the Planning Act 2016 and the Minister’s Rules and Guidelines v1.1 (which falls under the Planning Act).

The environment assessment report for this project will include:

  • a response to the criteria for requesting a MID, outlined under the Act
  • an explanation of the proposed development
  • architect’s plans
  • possible impacts from the development and how they would be addressed (e.g. traffic and environmental)
  • documents to be distributed during the formal engagement period and any engagement activities which may be held.

Parking and access

The proposed project does not include any new vehicle access points. It will use the current access from Link Road.

Following advice from our traffic planner, we will not be providing any new car parks as part of the proposal.

Privacy

The proposed facility is one storey, which means people in our building will not be able to look down into neighbouring properties.

The proposed facility has also been designed to keep a six metre setback from the rear boundary. The building’s immediate neighbours are the stormwater channel and Parklands Court Park. This setback next to the stormwater channel means that we will be about 55 metres from residences in Cassowary Circuit.

The YMCA appreciates the importance of the environment and the landscape to our neighbours and our students. As a result, the expansion has been designed to retain all trees on site and allow space for new trees in the future. This will also provide a natural buffer to the new building.

How to find out more about our plans for the future and the MID process

Please visit our Drop-in Session on Saturday 28 May 2022 between 1pm and 3pm at The LINK, 128 Link Road, Victoria Point to discuss our plans or the MID process with project team representatives.

If you have questions about our master plan, or any comments, you can also contact the project team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We would appreciate receiving any initial feedback before 20 May 2022.

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Josh brings Indigenous programs to YMCA Vocational Schools

Josh Fearn with a student from the Y Vocational School.

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“It's all about identity” 

Vocational schools are often a safer space for young people who do not thrive in mainstream schooling and Senior Lead Youth Worker Josh Fearn’s passion is to ensure they are also safe spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

Working at the Y Vocational School North Lakes for several years, Josh has been the key person responsible for integrating Indigenous programs into vocational schooling and helping teenagers connect with their culture.

Josh Fearn with students at the Y Vocational School.

Being an Awabakal man from Newcastle, Josh has a passion for bringing cultural awareness to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff and students.

Josh said he is able to draw upon his own experiences and story to motivate and change the lives of students at the vocational school.

“I grew up as a young Aboriginal boy in community so it was quite challenging and quite tough,” Josh said.

“Growing up we didn’t have much so I made a lot of poor decisions. I was consistently finding myself in trouble, breaking the law, I knew this was not me so I was focused to make better decisions.”

“Then one day in custody I realised this isn’t me, this is not who I am, I need to make better decisions. I want to be better, I want to provide, I want a future.”

A career supporting young people

After studying to become a support worker, Josh has helped hundreds of young people through his work in detention centres and Youth Off the Streets, before moving into education.

Now a Senior Youth Worker Lead at the Y, Josh identified a need to introduce programs that brought awareness of Indigenous culture to staff and students.

Josh Fearn (centre) with Moreton Bay Senior Campus Youth Workers Morris Hodges (left) and Krystal Wighton (right).

His first initiative at the Y Vocational School Moreton Bay was connecting with local traditional owners and establishing a didgeridoo program aimed at helping students connect with their culture and feel confident to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander within the school community.

“All of a sudden we've gone from three or four kids saying that they identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to having 15 kids in that one term,” Josh said.

“We had so much interest we opened it up to non-Indigenous kids as well so we can support that reconciliation – making sure our Indigenous kids and non-Indigenous kids are working together, having a good understanding of different cultures.”

Another popular program Josh has co-created is the school’s Aboriginal Art Program. Facilitated by Uncle Goma Conlon, the program teaches young people about the meaning of Indigenous symbols in artwork and provides an opportunity for Indigenous students to create their own story using Aboriginal symbols.

“Once they understand and start creating their own story and start painting, they don't want to go back to class because they're enjoying it so much,” Josh said.

Another highlight for Josh and the students was creating a cultural dance program, where Indigenous students learn a traditional dance over several weeks that they perform at the Year 12 Graduation Ceremony in front of a crowd of over 500 people.

“I thought to myself what's the best way I can really support these young Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids and break that cycle of not being shamed and getting up there being proud of their culture,” Josh said.

“We got them all sized up with all their outfits they have to wear. We've got them painted up then we went into town and we all got up there and danced and it was probably one of the highlights the organisations has ever seen.”

Josh Fearn (left) with Moreton Bay Senior Campus Youth Worker Mathew Galo (right).

Making all Y Vocational Schools a culturally safe space

Josh’s passion for integrating Indigenous culture into the Y Moreton Bay has seen every YMCA Vocational School site now adopt cultural programs, giving students more opportunities to thrive and find their identity though vocational schooling.

“I say this to the kids all the time I wish I had one of these vocational schools growing up because it would have been right up my alley, I wasn't fit for mainstream.”

“It's so important because it gives them opportunities like smaller classrooms, they get more support from the teachers, youth workers, counsellors, vet youth workers, so they're getting support so much more than what they'll get in a mainstream school.”

“My next goal and focus is now is trying to implement having an Indigenous staff member at each site to support their Indigenous kids because I think it's so important.”

“I've overcome so many barriers and that's what I want to encourage with these young people to do the same. Some of them are probably going through the same thing I went through and I said to them, you can overcome these stigmas, it’s about what you want to put into it.”

Josh Fearn (left) with Moreton Bay Senior Campus Head of School Domenic Heidke (right).

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Mango Hill Community Centre Raffle Success

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This holiday season, our Mango Hill Community Centre put smiles on faces with their special Christmas Raffle. From November to December, everyone had a chance to buy tickets for some awesome prizes and help out a good cause.

Thanks to everyone's support, they raised a fantastic $580! Every single dollar went straight to the Y Pantry, helping families in our community who need it most.

Big shoutout to Kym Richardson, our Events Coordinator Mango Hill Gymnastics who worked extremely hard along with the entire gymnastics community to make this generous donation possible. 

Kym said, "I'm amazed at how our community came together to help out. This donation will really make a difference and help families in need within our community."

Learn more about our Mango Hill Community Centre at the YMCA Mango Hill hub! We've got contemporary meeting rooms, a basketball court, and plenty of open space for everyone in our community to connect, have fun, and seek support.

YMCA Community Centre Mango Hill

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Official Opening of YMCA Vocational School Mango Hill Campus

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An $8 million vocational school run by the YMCA has opened in Mango Hill, offering secondary students an alternative education program to mainstream schooling.  

YMCA Vocational School Mango Hill Campus provides an opportunity for young people who may not thrive in conventional classrooms to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education and gain vocational certificates in a supportive environment.

Gary Adsett, who oversees all eight YMCA Vocational School campuses across South East Queensland, said the new Mango Hill campus is already empowering 110 students in grade 7-12 on their journey to employment.

“The YMCA Vocational School focuses on the wellbeing of students and offers them a unique supportive learning environment that focus on their individual needs,” Mr Adsett said.

“At Mango Hill, we swap structured rows of desks and a strict curriculum with more flexible and youthful learning spaces that encourage participation and engagement in class.

“With a mix of typical high school subjects, certificate courses and other supportive programs like counselling, art therapy and emotional development lessons, our students are able to thrive and find a career pathway they want to pursue.”

Students enrolled will have the opportunity to select a vocational pathway to follow, with options like hairdressing, automotive, hospitality, engineering and more. 

“The fantastic part about our Mango Hill school is that the Y also runs an Op Shop and Hair Salon onsite, offering students more opportunities when completing certificate training.

“The facility is also home to the YMCA Mango Hill Community Centre, offering modern spaces for hire spaces and events that locals can enjoy outside of school hours.”

Over $8.8 million has been invested into building the Vocational School, with the State Government pledging $1.85 million of funding to see the education resource delivered to the Moreton Bay community.

The YMCA operates Vocational Schools in North Lakes, Acacia Ridge, Kingston, Ipswich, Redlands and Mango Hill. Enrolments for these schools are open all year round.


ABOUT THE Y

The Y is one of the largest youth organisations, both in Brisbane and around the world. We believe in the power of inspired young people, and strive to help people develop in body, mind and spirit. the Y Brisbane offers a range of services within South East Queensland in the areas of fitness and recreation, child care, education, community and youth centres, hospitality, housing and social impact. Find out more at ymcabrisbane.org.


MEDIA CONTACT

Jane Barr-Thomson
Marketing and Communications Manager
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   
M: 0400 773 340

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Pathway to Employment: YMCA Opens Vocational School in Ipswich

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YMCA Brisbane has officially opened a new $5+ million vocational school campus in Ipswich, offering secondary students in the area with an alternative to mainstream schooling.

YMCA Vocational School Ipswich Campus promotes a flexible, supportive learning environment for young people who may not thrive in conventional classrooms. An adjusted education program – with a mix of typical high school subjects, certificate courses, wellbeing and life skill sessions – also provides students with an opportunity to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education and gain vocational certificates.

Will Sambrook, Acting YMCA Social Impact Group Manager, said the new Ipswich campus is already empowering more than 100 students in years 10 – 12 on their journey to employment.

“The YMCA Vocational School focuses on the wellbeing of students and offers them a unique supportive learning environment that focus on their individual needs,” Mr Sambrook said.

“At Ipswich, we swap structured rows of desks and a strict curriculum with more flexible and youthful learning spaces that encourage participation and engagement in class.

“With a mix of typical high school subjects, certificate courses and other supportive programs like counselling, art therapy and emotional development lessons, our students are able to thrive and find a career pathway they want to pursue.”

Students enrolled will have the opportunity to select a vocational pathway to follow, with options like hairdressing, automotive, hospitality, engineering and more.

“The fantastic part about our Ipswich school is that the Y also runs a Community Centre, offering modern spaces for hire spaces and events that locals can enjoy outside of school hours.”

More than $5 million has been invested into building the new Vocational School campus, with $1,570,000 of funding received from the Australian Government under the Capital Grants Program (CGP). The new Ipswich campus is the eighth YMCA Vocational School in South East Queensland.

The YMCA also operates Vocational Schools in Acacia Ridge, Kingston, Mango Hill, North Lakes and Redlands. Enrolments for these schools are open all year round.

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Pocket money provides 100 school breakfasts

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A very special little girl called Amelia has done a very courageous and generous thing.

Amelia had been diligently saving her pocket money all year round and decided to donate it to the Y's Schools' Breakfast Program.

Here is what Amelia had to say:

"Hi, I'm Amelia and I'm 7 years old. Every week I get pocket money and I save some to donate. At the end of last year I had $50 to donate and Mummy let me choose. I chose to donate to the YMCA School Breakfast program because some kids arrive at school and they haven't had breakfast. Kids need breakfast to help their brains concentrate so that they can learn! I love breakfast! I wanted to make sure that all of the kids that go to school have had breakfast. Mummy told me that my donation will feed 100 kids breakfast! That's a lot. I'm really happy that the children can now all have breakfast!

Amelia's hard-earned pocket money has contributed to approximately 100 breakfast meals for school students across South East Queensland — making a huge difference to those children who would otherwise miss out on a nutritious start to the day.

Amelia is an inspiring little girl that at such a young age, already sees the importance of contributing to bettering the lives and wellbeing of others, and empathises with the mission of our Schools' Breakfast Program.

Amelia has become a strong symbol of what the Y stands for and we are so very thankful to her for her generosity and kindness.

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Queensland Youth Parliament launches into 28th year

YMCA's 2023 Queensland Youth Parliament cohort during Launch Weekend.

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The 28th YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament (QYP) officially commenced this month with a jam-packed Launch Weekend from 14–16 April.

The Launch Weekend brought together all 93 selected Youth Members from across Queensland, providing the cohort with an opportunity to meet with the QYP Executive, mentors and their program peers.

Jasmin Peak, QYP Media and Marketing Officer, said the Launch Weekend tradition also involved “a lot of training and informational sessions that allow Youth Members to get an insight into what the rest of the year will look like for them.”

“Throughout the weekend training sessions from the Parliamentary, Education, Operations Support, Community Engagement and Recreation, Media and Marketing Officers are held.”

“These sessions range in topics from community and media engagement, to leadership and parliamentary education”, Jasmin said.

The weekend also saw Members vote-in this year’s Ministers and choose the Youth Bill topics that will be worked on during the program.

“Throughout the year Youth Bills are written and there are lots of community consults as well,” Jasmin explained.

“All Youth Members are also encouraged to participate in as many community engagement events as possible as well as meet with their local Members of Parliament.”

The weekend culminated with a gathering at Parliament House, where Youth Members were officially welcomed and sworn in during a special launch ceremony.

“Our next big event is Residential Sitting Week which is held in late September”, Jasmin said.

The annual YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament provides an opportunity for young people across Queensland to engage in a six-month program to participate in the writing of a Bill that proposes law reform on a topic that impacts young people.

To keep up to date with this year’s Queensland Youth Parliament cohort, follow QYP on Facebook or Instagram or visit the Your Voice Heard blog.

Martin Boga (2023 QYP Program Coordinator) with Youth Members during Launch Weekend.

Members of the 2023 Queensland Youth Parliament Executive.
Youth Members outside Parliament House before the special launch ceremony.
QYP Youth Members and Executive, YMCA Board Members and MPs gathered inside Parliament House.

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Queensland Youth Parliamentarians Take Their Seat

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More than 90 young leaders from across Queensland will be in Brisbane this month to take their seats at the YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament (25-29 September). The young leaders, aged between 15 and 25, cover all 89 Queensland electorates with an additional four positions for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander members.

Now in its 17th year, the YMCA Youth Parliament kicks off in April when coordinated committee meetings, mentoring, training and research help produce the Bills to be debated at Parliament House during the residential week.

Mr Alan Bray, State Director of the State Council of YMCAs, said “we started the program to empower young people to have a positive impact on their local communities and the future of Queensland. Like all YMCA programs, Queensland Youth Parliament fosters the potential of people and builds community engagement. For emerging young leaders, it offers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to our political system and become involved in a meaningful way,” Alan said. 

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Unveiling the YMCA Queensland's Impact Report 2022-2023

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The YMCA Queensland is thrilled to announce the release of its Community Impact Report for the year 2022-2023. The comprehensive report, available this month, provides a detailed overview of the YMCA's wide-ranging impact on the community through various services and programs.

In addition to the recent release, YMCA Queensland is delighted to present a concise highlight video showcasing the impact of our organisation across various services and programs. This video aims to provide a brief yet compelling visual representation of the remarkable work undertaken. Furthermore, Damian Foley, our CEO, extends sincere appreciation to all those involved in these initiatives, expressing profound gratitude for their unwavering dedication.

The YMCA's commitment to fostering positive change is prominently reflected in the report, which covers key areas such as housing, childcare and OSHC (Outside School Hours Care), the YMCA Schools' Breakfast Program, youth programs, fitness and recreation, as well as hospitality initiatives. The report not only outlines the scale and scope of these services but also delves into the tangible impact they have had on individuals and communities across South-East Queensland.

The report goes beyond statistics and data, weaving in exceptional stories from individuals involved with various programs, including the Schools' Breakfast Program, Op shops, Vocational Schools, Fitness Centres, and hospitality services. These narratives underscore the real-life impact of the YMCA's work and provide a human touch to the organisation's overarching mission - To empower children, young people and communities Australia-wide to build a just, sustainable, equitable and inclusive world, where every person can thrive in body, mind and spirit.

The YMCA Community Impact Report 2022-2023 serves as a testament to the organisation's unwavering dedication to building a stronger, healthier, and more connected community. As readers peruse the report, they will gain a deeper understanding of the impact work being done by the YMCA across South-East Queensland and the difference it is making in the lives of those it serves.

For more information and to access the full report, please visit the YMCA Queensland website. The YMCA encourages the community to explore the report and join in celebrating the collective achievements and positive outcomes outlined within.

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Volunteering at YMCA: Elena's Impact

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You may recognise this face as an educator at our OSHC, but did you know she also volunteers as a Research and Evaluation Officer on our Social Impact team. Meet Elena – a Psychology and Public Policy Major, and a young person making a difference.

Elena first heard about YMCA when she became involved with the Youth Mentoring Program, and her positive experience as a youth mentor is one of the reasons she has stayed with the organisation today.

“You could really see the positive impact it had on the young people we met. They became so engaged and eventually opened up about applying what they had learned in the program to their own lives, which was really rewarding.”

At YMCA we believe in giving young people a platform to have their say. We asked Elena for her thoughts on the most pressing issues facing young people today.

“I think the most pressing issues facing young people today are climate change and a lack of political representation. Young people are generally written off as being disengaged or uninterested in politics, but I don’t think that’s the whole picture. Our political system is not very open to new ideas, so the diverse and passionate opinions of young people are ignored. [The issue of] climate change is fairly self-evident, and progress on addressing it is painfully slow.”

Outside of her educator role, Elena is currently helping with research for a new Specialist OSHC evaluation framework.

“I’m usually at OSHC in the mornings before school; supervising play, preparing their afternoon tea, hearing their views, and seeing their creativity. [As a research officer] the tasks of the day vary, but are always interesting. I do everything from data entry and analysis, to literature reviews, and assisting with focus groups.”

Elena’s immediate goal is to visit Europe, but hopes that her career leads her to doing social research or working with community organisations.

“I really like the environment at YMCA. At each volunteering or working role, there’s always a very positive environment. I think the Vocational Schoolsare fantastic, as there’s a real need for more flexible educational services.”

We asked Elena to describe an idea for a new social impact program that she would like to see YMCA implement in the future.

“All of the current social impact programsare amazing, but if I could choose I would probably create a program focusing on giving community support to young asylum seekers and refugees in the community. Giving support to people who are newly arrived is critical and gives a positive foundation to the new lives they are building. My parents survived a lot of conflict and trauma before coming to Australia as refugees. They worked and sacrificed a lot to provide a good life for my sister and me. I have never heard them complain or lose their compassion for others despite what they have been through.”

We asked Elena how the public can get involved to make a difference in their community.

“The general public can get involved by keeping an inclusive mindset and listening to young people in their lives. Getting involved isn't limited to donating or volunteering YMCA is such a diverse and wide-ranging organisation with a great range of services, there's a way to get involved that will suit anyone.”

We're excited to see what amazing things Elena will achieve!

If you've found Elena's story inspiring, check out some of the ways that you can get involved in your community too!

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Where Young Musicians Network: Kelly Talks "The Space"

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You may recognise this face if you’ve ever visited our Youth Space and Vocational School, "The Space" North Lakes. Brisbane, meet Kelly. Kelly is a receptionist at The Space, with a keen interest in computers, everything tech, and playing and listening to music. He’s previously played with and supported some big bands, in front of big crowds, and is currently working on developing his own video game.

We asked Kelly what he loves about The Space.

“While I’ve been involved in some really cool things here, my favourite events are the hard-core shows that we’ve run. There really isn’t a North Side all-ages venue for this music scene, which makes it difficult for young people and young bands to get experience, exposure, and share something they are passionate about to like-minded people. It’s also a great way for young musicians to network with other bands and build their audience, and assisting with their shows has been such a killer experience.”

Kelly describes a day in his life at YMCA as “sporadic, but in a good way.”

“I think most people who work in reception or admin would agree – but it’s good, and some days are challenging. [My job] definitely keeps me on my toes. I work with some pretty amazing people, which makes my days great. I definitely don’t wake up not wanting to go to work.”

Kelly recently attended Inspired Leaders Camp at Camp Leslie Dam, where he learned about the importance of understanding intentions versus perceptions, as well as how broad the YMCA really is.

“We have some wonderfully talented staff across the organisation and learning that it’s not just this way where I am, but what seems to be everywhere, was lovely to see.”

We agree, Kelly. We truly agree!

Be sure to read more about The Space, where we encourage young people to socialise and be creative in a safe, structured or unstructured environment!

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YMCA Brisbane Wins National Social Impact Award

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YMCA Brisbane is proud to announce it is the winner of the Excellence in Social Impact Measurement Award, for its Impact Measurement Methodology program, in the 2019 SIMNA Awards.

The SIMNA (Social Impact Measurement Network of Australia) Awards celebrate Australian organisations, social enterprises, businesses, and impact inventors that undertake or support social impact measurement.

YMCA Brisbane facilitates 10 Social Impact programs to tens of thousands of people each week, with programs including: Independent School, Community Housing, Schools’ Breakfast Program, Social Enterprise, Vocational Education and Training and School-Based Mentoring programs.

The Excellence in Social Measurement Award is described as the ‘Gold Logie’ of social impact awards. In winning this award, YMCA Brisbane is recognised for the design and implementation of its highly-effective ‘Impact Measurement Methodology’ program. Central to the Impact Measurement program is the development of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) frameworks to evaluate the organisation’s Social Impact programs.

Gary Adsett, Group Manager YMCA Social Impact, said, “I am incredibly honoured that YMCA Brisbane has been recognised for building a culture that values social impact and outcomes measurement. We believe that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. Our Impact Measurement program provides tangible evaluation results to inform our decision-making processes and meet the needs of our beneficiaries. We will continue to develop and apply measurements to maximise the social impact that we make.”

Simon Faivel, SIMNA Chair and Director of SVA Consulting said: “The SIMNA Awards are a national celebration of those growing and shaping the practice of social impact measurement in Australia. New community-based approaches that build resilience across generations are a broader investment across Queensland’s youth and young people. The standard of excellence demonstrated by YMCA Brisbane's Impact Measurement Methodology is to be commended.”

The judging panel took into consideration that YMCA Brisbane is a long-established and trusted name in community service delivery. It unanimously concurred that its application expressed the best practice and embodiment of the Principles of Social Value.

Judging panellist, Dr Emma Lee, commented: “The YMCA has a long and trusted name in youth and young peoples’ service delivery. Their achievements are singular in the levels of impact across families and communities – whole societies are benefiting and being uplifted to demonstrate real social and cultural value within socio-economic outcomes built from the ground-up. This field of social impact demonstrates Australian innovation at its best.”

YMCA Brisbane began measuring impact approximately six years ago. The organisation continues to use the information generated from impact measurement for planning and decision-making purposes in a transparent and accountable way.

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YMCA Campaign Aims to Get Every Child Swimming In Safety

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On 1st November 2012, a new national TV campaign from the YMCA, in partnership with the SBS Foundation, called for all Australians to learn to swim as annual drowning rates continue at alarming levels.

The 30-second campaign launched on SBS in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim to save lives among our nation’s most “at risk” communities, namely our Indigenous population and new migrants, many of whom have not grown up around open water. These communities are also more likely to be faced with financial and geographic barriers to learning to swim, barriers that need to be broken, according to the YMCA.

The YMCA’s plea – that it’s never too early or too late to learn, swimming is a skill for all ages, genders and ethnicities – echoes that of Royal Life Saving Society Australia which is currently calling for swimming lessons to be compulsory for all school children. However, the YMCA believes the need for swimming lessons extends a lot further than among children, with 205 of the 284 drowning deaths in Australia in the year to June 2012 aged 25 and over.

What’s more, Indigenous Australians are over three times more likely to drown than other Australians.

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YMCA Creates Course To Beat The Rat Race

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One of Brisbane’s oldest organisations, the YMCA, has come to the rescue of the River City, creating a solution to defeat the dreaded rat race by turning the iconic Brisbane River, Botanical Gardens and Goodwill Bridge into a fun obstacle course pitting participants against a range of challenging (but very achievable) obstacles.

The YMCA Rat Race gives busy Brisbaneites the perfect chance to escape the daily grind and join their friends and colleagues in a fun and friendly team event supporting the YMCA and their YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program.

YMCA Brisbane Marketing and Fundraising Manager Jane Barr-Thomson said the Rat Race offers a great opportunity for people across South East Queensland to take part in a fun event and support a program designed for people of varying fitness levels.

“The Rat Race is a perfect opportunity for people across South East Queensland to get together with their friends and family for a fun and friendly team event supporting a much needed program,” Ms Barr-Thomson said.

The Rat Race supports the YMCA School’s Breakfast Program, which was designed to help improve disadvantaged Queensland student’s academic, community and behavioural outcomes.

Ms Barr-Thomson said the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program is an important service feeding students disadvantaged by hunger and poor nutrition before they start school for the day.

“We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day and over the past 10 years, the Schools’ Breakfast Program has served more than three million breakfasts to students across Queensland,” Ms Barr-Thomson said.

The YMCA Brisbane is one of Brisbane’s oldest organisations offering the community a range of services and youth programs to more than 10,000 members every week.

Registrations for teams to participate in the YMCA Rat Race are open now with the Family and Team Events taking place Sunday 15 October 2017.

People can register their team to compete in either the 8km team event or the family friendly 4km family event. Both courses start and finish in Captain Burke Park under the iconic Story Bridge.

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YMCA Mobilises Millions to Break Basketball World Record

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Millions of people were mobilised on Saturday 13th October, for the YMCA World Challenge 2012 Hoop Springs Eternal - a coordinated celebration of the YMCA and the work it does to build strong communities and empower young people.

YMCA events took place in thousands of local communities across five continents and included a global basketball shoot-out. Invented in a YMCA in 1890, basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world and has been used as a tool to empower people and promote a healthy life style.

To celebrate, local YMCAs hosted free events for the whole family. The YMCA at Bowen Hills and Redlands hosted free family fun days from 8am.

Local residents were invited to visit the two centres – for free group fitness classes, free gym workouts, and for the kids – a free gymnastics class.

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YMCA Op Shops: Supporting Local Communities

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Since our first store opened in early 2017, YMCA Op Shops have become a special part of local communities. Known for quality vintage clothing and being the #1 destination for affordable, pre-loved items such as books, shoes, bags, kitchenware, home decor, toys, accessories, and other treasures, our op shops make a significant difference in local communities.

Making a Difference
Every item you buy or donate at our op shops helps to support YMCA Social Impact programs, including the Schools’ Breakfast program and the Cancer Survivors program. By shopping and donating, you contribute to:
  • Raising funds for essential community programs.
  • Providing a space for Y Schools Queensland students to complete their retail certificates.
  • Making a positive environmental impact by recycling quality goods destined for landfill.
  • Supporting vulnerable community members through personalised shopping vouchers distributed in partnership with local community centers.
Strathpine Op Shop: Supporting Nourish Street
At our Strathpine location, we support Nourish Street, an initiative started by Bray Park resident Beau Haywood. Beau and his family deliver hundreds of home-cooked meals and essentials to homeless people across the Moreton Bay region every week. The Strathpine Op Shop collects donations of camping equipment, tinned food, perishable food, and blankets to support Beau's mission.

Beau’s personal experience with homelessness and addiction gives him a unique connection with the people he helps. His dedication to forming connections and building trust has seen his efforts grow from helping 80 people to over 117. Donations can be left at the Strathpine YMCA Op Shop at 130 Gympie Rd.

Mount Gravatt Op Shop: Helping Local Community Centers
The Mount Gravatt Op Shop has been a vital resource for the Mount Gravatt Community Centre on Logan Rd. and Yourtown Upper Mount Gravatt. We provide clothing and household items to disadvantaged families and job seekers after screening by community centers. Recently, we supplied tents, sleeping bags, and blankets to the Yeronga Community Centre to support homeless individuals which provided much-needed warmth and shelter this winter.

Mango Hill Op Shop: Community Connections
Our Mango Hill Op Shop is dedicated to forming strong community connections by supporting local initiatives and providing essential items to those in need. By volunteering, donating, or shopping with us, you contribute to making a positive impact in the Mango Hill community.
Get Involved
We encourage you to support your local YMCA Op Shop by shopping, donating, or volunteering. Every contribution helps us to continue making a difference in our communities. Visit us at our locations in Strathpine, Mount Gravatt, and Mango Hill to find quality items and support us in building thriving, healthy, and connected communities. Get involved

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YMCA opens third affordable housing complex for Queenslanders in need

Richard Edwards OAM and Hon Leeanne Enoch (Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts) stand in the heart of Edwards Place.

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YMCA Brisbane officially opened its newest affordable housing complex on Tuesday 4 April 2023, offering safe accommodation for Queenslanders who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

The new Slacks Creek complex, officially named ‘Edwards Place, is the third affordable housing development established and managed by the Y Brisbane and includes 18 one and two-bedroom self-contained units.

The name ‘Edwards Place’ was chosen in honour of long-term YMCA Director and volunteer, Richard Edwards OAM, who has tirelessly supported the Y locally and nationally for more than four decades.

Richard and his family attended the official opening, along with Hon Leeanne Enoch (Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts), Cr Mindy Russell (Logan City Councillor for Division 3), the complex's builders, architects and of course the wonderful tenants who call Edwards Place home.

The Y Brisbane partnered with the Queensland Government on the project to address the state’s housing crisis and help deliver housing for those in need.

Damian Foley, YMCA Brisbane CEO, said funding provided by the Queensland Government “allowed us to develop a wonderful facility that’s providing housing for those at risk of homelessness” and that the Y Brisbane “looks forward to an ongoing relationship with the Department to continue to provide solutions for those struggling with housing”.

In addition to providing accommodation, the Y Brisbane also works with tenants to address the issues and barriers that contributed to their homelessness, empowering them to gain autonomy, independence and enhanced quality of life.

The Y also operates 109 long-term community housing units across two properties in Nerang on the Gold Coast – Melville Place and Nowell B Taylor.

Tenants are referred to the YMCA by the Department of Housing.

Damian Foley (YMCA Brisbane CEO), Toolah Olsen (Board Vice President), Hon Leeanne Enoch (Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts) and Richard Edwards OAM with Edwards Place tenants Malcolm, Ian and Kerrie.

Richard Edwards OAM and Hon Leeanne Enoch (Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts) after unveiling the Edwards Place plaque. 

Edwards Place features a beautiful green common space and BBQ area for tenants to enjoy.

Edwards Place is located in Slacks Creek, Logan City.

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YMCA Opens Vocational School in the Redlands

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A multi-million dollar vocational school run by the YMCA has opened in the Redlands, offering secondary students an alternative education program to mainstream schooling.

YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus provides an opportunity for young people who may not thrive in conventional classrooms to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education and gain vocational certificates in a supportive environment.

Gary Adsett, who oversees all eight YMCA Vocational School campuses across South East Queensland, said the new Redlands campus is already empowering dozens of young people on their journey to employment.

“YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus offers a unique curriculum that encourages attendance, engagement and confidence – including typical high school subjects, social and emotional development lessons, exercise classes, art therapy, counselling and more,” Mr Adsett said.

“What’s different about the Y compared to mainstream schooling is that we adapt our classrooms, lessons, facilities, support programs and teaching style based on the individual needs of our students. We get new students who have previously experienced significant barriers in coming to school and studying, who after spending several weeks at the Y, say they’ve found a place they can call home.”

Students enrolled will have the opportunity to select a vocational pathway to follow, with options like hairdressing, automotive, hospitality, engineering and more.

Currently, 60 students are enrolled at the YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus.

“There’s a real need in the Redlands to offer young people new avenues to gain employment after school, and a learning environment with increased support. The facility also has an onsite community centre, creating venue hire spaces and offering events everyone in the Redlands can enjoy outside of school hours.”

Over $5 million has been invested into building the Vocational School, with the State Government pledging $2.5 million of funding to see the education resource delivered to the Redlands community.

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YMCA Schools' Breakfast Program is Breaking News

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The School Breakfast Program made its ‘1.8 million breakfasts’ milestone and has attracted media attention. On May 27, the ABC New Team attended the YMCA Vocational School Campus to interview the YMCA and Foodbank about the positive influences the School Breakfast Program is having on young lives.

The program gives students the opportunity to achieve their very best, by providing them with much needed sustenance to start their School day. Research suggests that breakfast is important for students as it helps to boost energy levels and improves concentration at School.

Also, Volunteers, School partnerships and business supporters all play a vital role in the success of the program. Tip Tip and Foodbank generously donated specially designed YMCA aprons to the volunteers who serve breakfast to students. There has also been an increase in volunteers since the program was initiated, who donate their time with the goal of helping others. The School Breakfast Program has received great and well deserved publicity and YMCA are proud of everyone who is involved.

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YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program Launches New Networking Initiative

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The YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program team has launched a new networking initiative to support staff, volunteers and school communities providing free, healthy breakfasts to students across Queensland.

The Program’s first networking event was held on Thursday 6 October at Bremer State High School and brought together a passionate group of supporters, from teaching and administrative staff to not-for-profit and local government representatives.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding was also in attendance and spoke of the inspiring impact the Breakfast Program was having on 38 school communities in the region.

The YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program currently supports more than 140 schools and provides 100,000 free breakfast meals to Queensland students each month, many of whom attend school without eating a substantial meal — if any food at all — before leaving home in the morning.

While the Program’s mission is to reduce the number of students disadvantaged by hunger and poor nutrition, YMCA CEO Damian Foley recently highlighted the additional benefits of children attending school with a full tummy.

“Our research tells us that 96% of schools see demonstrable positive impacts on educational outcomes after implementing our breakfast program, including increases in school connectedness, student focus and participation, and improved behavioural outcomes,” Mr Foley said.

Program Manager Amanda Maystone-Towell and her dedicated team plan to hold quarterly networking events to connect with participating schools and communities, support their staff and volunteers, share information and ideas, and celebrate local achievements.

Ms Maystone-Towell also explained that the events will aim to reduce the stigma of food insecurity, ensuring the Schools’ Breakfast Program is “part of the daily conversation with children, youth and families and a positive place to start their day”.

Plans are already underway for the next quarterly events to be held in Logan, followed by the Brisbane region.

To learn more about the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program, to register your school or to donate, please click here.

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YMCA Springfield Lakes Christmas Appeal 2023

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In the spirit of giving, the YMCA Springfield Lakes Christmas Appeal has once again united the local community to spread joy and support to those in need. Since its start in 2019, the annual appeal has been a beacon of hope, with this year's efforts reaching new heights.

Partnering with local organisations such as Springfield Lakes State School, Ray White – Brookwater, Bolton Group Real Estate, Scouts – Springfield, IGA Springfield, and Aveo Retirement Village, the YMCA aimed to foster a sense of community and inspire generosity within the Springfield region.

Alison Clark, Operations Coordinator at YMCA Springfield Lakes, expressed her gratitude, saying, "The collective effort and community spirit displayed in this initiative embody the true essence of the season, bringing joy and support to those in need."

Andrea, Alison, and Jennifer

The collaborative effort involved various contributions from the community, including 150 hand-sewn Christmas stockings by the YMCA Craft Group, handmade cards by the Springfield Scout Joey Group, and over 2500 food items collected in a one-day drive by Springfield Lakes State School.

Food and toy collection points were set up at IGA, Aveo, Bolton Group Real Estate, and Ray White – Brookwater. The generous support from Springfield's community resulted in over 3000 food items, 407 gifts, and 180 toiletry items gathered over the course of the initiative.

Aveo Group

YMCA Springfield Lakes staff, along with 14 dedicated volunteers, spent seven days sorting, bundling hampers, and wrapping presents. Through this effort, over 90 families in the Springfield region received a helping hand during the festive season.

As part of their commitment to the community, additional gifts will be sent to the Springfield Child Safety Centre to bring Christmas joy to kids in foster care.

This annual appeal has become a hallmark of community spirit, aligning with the YMCA's vision of creating happy, connected, and thriving communities. The Springfield Lakes Community Centre, under YMCA's guidance, continues to provide an inclusive and respectful space for people to connect, belong, participate, and receive support.

To learn more about the YMCA Springfiled Lakes Community Centre and its programs, check out YMCA Springfield Lakes Community Centre.

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