Frequently Asked Questions
Why are we merging?
We are working to create a strong, unified, national feminist organisation of women, young women and girls, working to achieve gender equality. YWCAs in Australia are seeking to merge to empower our organisation to better respond to trends affecting the viability of the community sector and secure our long-term sustainability and growth.
+ What are we merging?
YWCAs in Australia are working towards a national merger, which seeks to transform our current federated structure of 12 YWCA organisations into a single national entity.
This structure will provide us with one National Board, one CEO, one Membership base, and a suite of nationally aligned programs and services. The national structure will comprise 10 of the existing Member Associations coming together into a national entity. The remaining two Member Associations will be Affiliates of the new national entity.
The national structure will allow for subsidiary bodies, with subsidiary Boards, where required, to accommodate regulatory requirements: for example; housing.
The proposed national structure aims to unite and strengthen our voice by retaining and growing our presence. All programs and assets will come together in a single entity, to be grown and leveraged. The new national organisation - YWCA Australia - will be affiliated to World YWCA.
+ What are the reasons for merging?
In 2014, all YWCAs in Australia undertook a movement-wide, evidence-based review of the sustainability of the YWCA movement. The review examined:
- shared challenges to sustainability faced by YWCAs in Australia
- best practice within other Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisations in Australia,
- wider NFP trends,
- YWCA structures in other countries,
- financial assessments from all YWCAs in Australia,
- assessments of YWCA competitors, and
- our members’ vision for the future.
Outcomes of the review showed:
- the not-for-profit sector in Australia is changing (it is more competitive),
- funding has become concentrated within a small number of charitable organisations with economies of scale that enable them to deliver nationally but maintain local focus,
- the NFP sector is struggling to stay relevant, and
- if we maintain our current trajectory we are on a path to uncertainty and decline. "In 2014, the largest 5% of charities received 80% of the sector’s income"
Merging provides us with opportunities to:
- build a national voice and profile,
- align our purpose, vision and goals in order to achieve greater impact,
- align our programs and services to our purpose and goals,
- provide a better, more consistent value proposition to our Members,
- take advantage of our greater scale,
- become a national provider of choice opening new funding opportunities, and
- improve efficiency and effectiveness.
When will we merge?
Participating YWCA organisations in Australia are committed to achieving a national merger by mid-2018.
+ How will this happen?
The legal pathway chosen is merger by Schemes of Arrangement. A Scheme of Arrangement is the legal mechanism to effect the amalgamation. Under the Schemes, the Member Associations will transfer broadly speaking all of their assets and liabilities to YWCA Australia, and YWCA Australia will become responsible for all YWCA operations.
Members will vote for the scheme and then the court approves it, resulting in a merger agreement.
+ What are the next steps?
The Explanatory Statement describing our amalgamation has been approved by ASIC and before the Federal Court, who has given orders for Member Associations (MAs) to convene meetings with their Members. This is where our Members will have their say. We shall be asking all Members to join us in transforming the YWCAs by voting YES in favour of the merger.
These meetings will be held around the country at 10am on Saturday 19 May, 2018. If you are unable to attend your meeting, please complete your proxy form and return it to your MA by 10.30am on Thursday 17 May. Further information on the scheme is set out the Explanatory Statement, which you will receive if you are voting member of a merging MA. The Explanatory Statement is also available on the YWCA Australia website by visiting www.ywca.org.au.
Upon a successful vote, the YWCAs will return to Court seeking the final court order approving the schemes. The second court date will be 22 May, 2018, with implementation date planned to be 31 May. Day one of the new entity will be 1 June, 2018.
+ When and how do members vote?
Each YWCA has its own democratic process of voting as outlined in its constitution.
As a Member, you will have now been invited to attend your YWCA’s Scheme meeting to vote on the merger. The member Scheme meetings are taking place across the country on Saturday 19 May, and members can vote by attending your Scheme meeting in person, or by completing a proxy form. If you choose to complete a proxy form, this needs to be returned to your YWCA MA by 10:30am on Thursday 17 May.
All MA Boards are calling on their Members to endorse the proposal to merge to form a strong, national organisation by voting ‘yes’ at your Scheme meeting.
+ When will the new Board be elected?
The selection of the Board is outlined in the new Constitution. The initial President and Board for the new national organisation has been selected and was endorsed by the existing Member Associations who are merging.
- The Board will comprise between eight and twelve Members, including the President of the Board
- At least 30% of Board Members must be under 31 years of age at their time of appointment
The initial Board for the national entity is:
- Julie Boyd (President) from YWCA QLD
- Isabelle Chassain from YWCA QLD
- Mary Foley from YWCA NSW
- Nicole Freeman from YWCA NSW
- Cara Gleeson from YWCA Housing
- Alecia Rathbone from YWCA Victoria
- Tara Willoughby from YWCA Canberra
- Danielle Wruck from YWCA Australia
- Ilena Young from YWCA Albury / YWCA Australia
- Taliska Arentsen from YWCA Darwin
Ongoing, all Directors of YWCA Australia will have a commitment to the shared values of YWCA and our goal of achieving gender equality. Achieving diversity of Directors, particularly regional and cultural diversity will be a key consideration.
+ How will we transition to a national organisation?
YWCA MA Presidents and Boards have developed recommendations to assist the incoming President, Board and CEO to harmonise our activities as we transition into our future structure and operations.
These recommendations outline how our governance and operations will work including staffing, membership engagement, regional activities, finances, information systems, our brand and communications as well as fundraising and business development.
How will this impact Members?
By becoming a national entity, our members will have greater engagement options. Some examples include:
- improved connectivity
- greater regional inclusion
- shared culture and diversity
- celebration of our history
- stronger voice
- leadership opportunities
+ How will the merger impact my membership?
While current membership is not transferable to the new entity, all current Members will be encouraged to take up membership in new entity from day 1. The new entity will offer four classes of membership:
- Voting members;
- Non-Voting Members;
- Associate Members;
- Life Members
In the new entity, Members are able to connect internationally and nationally, engage locally and communicate virtually via:
- YWCAs offices around Australia
- Local Action Groups
- Special Interest Groups
- Friendship Groups
- Young Women's Council
We greatly hope all Members will take up the opportunity to continue their involvement with the YWCA movement in Australia by joining as members of the new national organisation.
+ What are the benefits of merging for Members?
Members will benefit by being represented nationally as part of a stronger, united entity.
As a national entity, YWCA Australia will have a more impactful voice on national issues while retaining flexibility to act on local/regionally important issues in line with purpose, vision and mission.
The new entity will provide a clear Member value proposition to all Members in all locations.
The new entity aims to do more in local communities and remain relevant to its Members and the community.
+ How will the new structure provide pathways for young women?
Young women’s leadership and empowerment are at the core of the new entity’s purpose, mission and vision. Young women will continue to be actively engaged across the organisation in strategic planning, advocacy, policy and leadership.
In the new entity, a Young Women’s Council will be established to provide an advisory service to the Board. The Council will be comprised of 18 Members, 16 elected by the membership, two appointed by the Board and at least 1 indigenous young woman. No more than four council members are to be appointment from any one State or Territory.
Achieving diversity in representation and issues on the Council will be a key priority. Young women will be supported to take up leadership positions throughout the new entity including Board Traineeships and Directorships. Constitutionally, young women must make up at least 30% of all Board and governance committee structures.
+ Will a national organisation result in fewer opportunities for Members to be involved?
No, there will be far more opportunities especially collaboration across other offices and rural and regional areas.
There will be more opportunities to build national voice by engaging more directly with members; for example National Members surveys, SheSpeaks, etc.
Will there be any changes to local activities?
We acknowledge and respect the long and strong history of individual YWCAs throughout Australia. Local presence has often been initiated by local women to serve local needs and this will continue.
+ Will our local focus and presence remain?
Becoming a national entity will enable us to build on our strong history and ultimately increase presence and reach across Australia by leveraging local strengths for national benefit.
The new entity will ensure that existing regional presence, voice and influence is not just retained, but grown over time.
A number of principles and practices are recommended to ensure regional voice, diversity and inclusion in the new entity including:
- regional consultation and inclusion
- member engagement
- centres of speciality (e.g. advocacy, leadership)
+ Will we still be able to run our own fundraisers and special events?
The merged YWCA Australia will encourage and support fundraising at all levels, and seek to ensure that YWCA endeavours around the country align with our agreed messages and focus areas.
It is anticipated that local offices will also be able to support coordinated national fundraising, events and advertising.
+ What is our growth strategy?
One of the key objectives and proposed benefits of merging is to increase our reach by growing and extending existing services aligned to the organisation’s purpose.
+ Will programs be expanded beyond their current areas?
In a national entity with the size and scale of the new YWCA, it is expected that many programs and services will be nationally scalable.
Nationally scaled programs will be supported by coordinated delivery. Local and regionally specific programs may be delivered at a regional/state level with national support.
+ What will happen if duplication occurs within programs and support?
The management of the new entity will review all programs and services as an early priority. We expect that where similar programs operate in various locations, there will be considerable consultation to identify how we can streamline and strengthen the offering.
How will this impact our people?
Our people will be supported through the transition of the merger.
+ How will it affect day to day business operations?
Front line delivery of program and services will need to continue on day one and beyond in the new entity. Other activities will be likely to continue in a similar manner; albeit with increased collaboration with other functions across the country.
+ Will there be any job losses from the merger?
Final organisational structures have not been determined so the decision to merge will not result in any immediate job losses. Over time, it is expected that some roles may be identified as being duplicated, and that other roles that are needed which don’t currently exist, will need to be created.
Creation of new roles and growth will provide career development opportunities for staff members. On this basis, over time, there may be changes to structures.
It’s important to note that existing employment conditions, including provisions relating to restructures or transfers to new roles, will transfer to the new organisation.
+ Will all new roles be advertised?
All roles will be advertised internally and externally as appropriate.
How will this impact programs and services?
Becoming a national entity will enable us to align our activities to ensure we can make the greatest impact where it is needed. We will deliver sustainable, measured impacts by working collaboratively across the country with teams and partners.
What is the strategic direction of the national organisation?
The new entity will work to one national vision, purpose and strategy.
+ What is the purpose, vision and mission of the new organisation?
"To be a strong, unified, national feminist organisation of women, young women and girls, working to achieve gender equality"
"All women, young women and girls are safe and respected, with equal access to power, opportunity and resources".
YWCA Australia will be part of the World YWCA movement which works for women’s empowerment, leadership and rights in more than 120 countries World YWCA Envisioning Goal:
“By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainably YWCA movement, inclusive of all women”.
+ What values will the new organisation follow?
The values of the new entity are:
- Integrity, and
+ What strategic priorities will the new organisation work towards?
Business strategy will be developed in conjunction with the new Board and incoming CEO and Young Women’s Council. The strategic priorities will align to the focus of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women, young women and girls.
The business case may also provide the new organisation with a financial platform to assist with analysis of future business direction.
+ Where will board members be located?
Board members are volunteers and may be based anywhere across Australia. Some travel will be required to ensure the Board can meet regularly throughout the year and this has been factored into the business case.
+ How will we ensure diversity and inclusion in the new organisation?
The new entity will have a strong commitment to diversity through the following recommendations:
- An organisational commitment to indigenous, recognition and reconciliation is expressed at all levels of the organisation supported by mechanisms that develop understanding and promote healing within indigenous communities and reconciliation in non- indigenous communities.
- The organisation works to ensure it can effectively and inclusively engage all the needs of diverse communities of women in Australia through its culture, its mechanisms for inclusion and its program development
- Establish a platform for engagement with other YWCA’s in the pacific regions and support the needs of women in its region.
How will fundraising work?
The new entity will continue to encourage grassroots fundraising. The new entity will abide by state and territory laws to ensure that funds raised are spent according to the purposes under which the funds were raised.
Similarly, where funds are received from bequests, the proposed or intended use of the funds will be adhered to.
+ Will local fundraising be affected?
Current fundraising practices will remain unchanged; that is, funds raised for a specific purpose will be directed to that purpose (whether it be location-specific or program-specific fundraising).
The new organisation will encourage and support fundraising at all levels, and seek to ensure that YWCAs endeavours around the country align with our agreed messages and focus areas.