The Y in Australia (formerly YMCA) shone brightly this week when Victorian Ys were plunged into their fourth lockdown (a total of 170 days) since March last year, affecting over 3,800 staff who lost shifts due to mandatory shutdowns of programs and services, this time without the support of JobKeeper.

Before the Federal Government stepped in on Thursday with new COVID Disaster Payments, the Federation of Ys in Australia jumped in, contributing $200,000 to purchase enough $50 Coles vouchers for all affected Y staff in Victoria. 100% of the funds were donated by Ys outside of Victoria who instantly identified that geography and borders didn’t matter and that our people came first.

“It just felt right and it’s as simple as that,” said Torrien Lau, CEO of the Y in Canberra who was the first to offer support to the Victorian Ys when they shared their situation and voucher support plan.

National CEO Melinda Crole said she was “super proud” to be part of the Y and highlighted that this was an example of a Federation working at its best.

“Last year the CEOs of the Y came together to create their own Statement of Commitment to each other and future generations of the Y, and this week, once again, they demonstrated our heroic, creative and nurturing values and commitment to each other,” she said.

In Victoria, the Y delivers programs and services in 200 plus locations in settings including camps, community recreation and sporting facilities, swimming pools, childcare and early education, schools, kindergartens, youth services and youth justice facilities and disability services.

Most of these operations are significantly impacted by the lockdown, and thousands of employees have lost shifts for the entire 14-day lockdown period. Given this is the 4th lockdown, like so many other businesses hit hard by the global pandemic, and as not for profit, it becomes harder and harder each time to recover from these extended lockdowns.

“The resilience and determination of our people is why we bounce back,” said Melinda Crole

Coles also provided the Y with a 5% discount on the purchase of the $50 vouchers for staff, and the Y’s own merchandising business YGear offered affected staff a significant discount on all products.

“The whole team in Victoria is overwhelmed by the support shown by other Ys in Australia,” said Carolyn Morris, CEO of Y Victoria.