“Few, if any YMCAs worldwide, have been integrally involved in building the social and leadership fabric of a planned and purpose built national capital city. YMCA Canberra has that unique honour.”

The Y Canberra had the good fortune to be born in 1941, during an era of gradually changing social attitudes and when Canberra was a young city in the early stages of developing its own particular style and personality. At the time, Canberra’s population was barely over 10,000 and our capital more closely resembled a semi-rural town than the vibrant city we know it as today. So quite literally, Canberra and the Y have grown side-by-side since then.

The Y’s initial programs in Canberra were designed to introduce much-needed recreation and physical activities into the lives of the predominantly young male workforce who had relocated here to construct the new city. As the city became more diverse the Y adopted its programs while maintaining its commitment to ‘building strong people, strong families and strong communities’.

The Y touched many hearts and made an impact on thousands of lives in Canberra… (it) has had an enormous influence on the development of Canberra’s social fabric and its community and welfare services.
– HARRY BLACK, Developer of Y activities in the 1940s and 50s and party of the Y community for over 60 years.

The above information is summarised from Helen Tracey’s book The Y Generation – the YMCA in Canberra 1941-2011


YMCA becomes the Y

You may have noticed our new logo and references to ‘the Y’ and that’s because after 52 years of the same logo, the Y has rebranded. When founded in 1844, the YMCA stood for the Young Men’s Christian Association but since 2010 there has been a worldwide movement to adopt our nickname “the Y” as our brand. The Y has a long legacy of celebrating and supporting diversity and the new brand aims to honour and make it clear that our passion is to offer children and young people pathways to live their best lives –  regardless of race, age, language, gender, country of origin, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation or physical ability.

“Our new logo (designed by one of the Y’s young people!) and brand pays tribute to our heritage and history maintaining the critical triangle element of the Y’s ‘Body Mind Spirit’ Mission, but also signals our new direction with a logo that is fresh and modern.”


Our legal entity remains YMCA Canberra Region but in most cases we refer to ourselves as the Y.