The Y Canberra Region (formerly YMCA) would like to acknowledge the Y NSW (with headquarters in Sydney) for their services in running local Canberra pools and leisure centres at Stromlo, Gungahlin, Civic and Tuggeranong. The Y Canberra team look forward to collaborating with the Australasia commercial operators Belgravia Health and Leisure into the future.


The Y is a heritage Not-For-Profit organisation that has grown alongside the Canberra community since 1941. It is first and foremost about enriching the lives and supporting equal access to good health, recreation and wellbeing programs and services for Canberra’s young people, families and community. The Y Canberra Region team is keen to ensure that universal access to beneficial, preventative health, sport, and recreation remains accessible and inclusive for all of the Canberra community, particularly at-risk young people.

Based on the Australian Early Development Census (AECD) results, our Y team is concerned that the developmental vulnerability of Canberra children is the second lowest nationwide concerning the domain of physical health and wellbeing. Like other Not-For-Profits across the region, our team is also concerned that the ACT is one of the most expensive places for children to play sports and be a member of a sporting club in Australia. Almost 50% of the Y Canberra staff are under the age of 25 and know first-hand about the cost-of-living pressure disproportionately affecting young people and at-risk populations. Healthy recreation activities, including sporting clubs, pools and gym memberships, may be out of reach or seen as non-essential when someone is trying to navigate the current cost-of-living crisis.

Intergenerational healthy habits are critical to taking the pressure off Canberra’s strained health system at all levels of care as our population continues to age. Canberra deserves more inclusive and accessible community-based preventative health programs, knowing the risks and outcomes of not providing affordable sports and recreation for young people. Our Clinical Exercise Physiology team supports this, knowing that healthy habits are formed from a young age and are essential to lifelong physical and cognitive development.

The YMCA is synonymous with sport and fitness, having invented basketball in December 1891 in Massachusetts to keep young men focused and safely engaged during winter months. The 1844 YMCA motto of ‘mind, body and spirit’ has never been more relevant for Canberra children and young people.

We would like to thank the Y NSW for supporting this mission and running the local leisure centres, and we look forward to collaborating with the new commercial operators. Our local Y team is passionate about the people in and around the pools and leisure centres, rather than the assets themselves, and we look forward to developing inclusive and equitable programs and partnerships that ensure accessible sporting and leisure services remain for Canberra Region residents and young people.