“Two YMCAs who care” came together in an historic meeting on Monday night in Bendigo, to formalise a new pathway for the Y in the region.
“This is an enjoyable experience for us all, coming together as equals, and creating a healthy merger between two Associations,” said Chair of YMCA Victoria, Stephen Ellich, speaking alongside Chair of Bendigo Regional YMCA, Ian Hart.
“We’re all here because we care about the Y,” added National Board Vice President and Y Victoria Board member Ben Hubbard, who grew up in Bendigo, attended school holiday care programs at the Y, and was part of its Youth Parliament program.
“And we’re here because we care about the community and we care about young people.”
“We are making these decisions for young people, for their future, because we know that four out of five young people don’t feel like they have a voice in their community or their lives, and the Y can do something about this.”
At the Special General Meeting, members unanimously passed three resolutions approving the wind up of the Bendigo Regional Y as a stand-alone entity, and the transfer of its assets, which include four facilities and a healthy balance sheet, to Y Victoria.
Boards and management of Y Bendigo and Y Victoria have been working extremely hard in the lead up to the members’ meeting and have already integrated children’s programs into Victoria’s operations.
In addition, Bendigo, with great foresight, had asked Y Victoria, with its scale and expertise in recreation, to tender for the Peter Krenz Leisure Centre, and was pleased management of the facility remained in the Y. The centre is particularly special to the Y in Bendigo, named after former long-term CEO, Peter Krenz, who died prematurely in 2007, while still serving as CEO.
President Ian Hart said the Bendigo Board had made the decision to merge, recognising it as the best way to maintain and grow the Y’s footprint and impact in the region, for the long-term.
Mr Hart said that while the association was doing well, increased competition in its traditional markets of recreation management and early learning, increased Risk, Compliance and Governance requirements, and ageing assets requiring capital investment, meant a merger with a larger Y made sense – sooner rather than later.
Treasurer Michael Trimble said the decision was not made easily, or lightly, but was made with the best interests of the Bendigo community at heart.
He said the board was pleased the voice the Bendigo community would continue to be strongly represented in how the Y in Bendigo would continue to grow and develop, with Chair Ian Hart’s inclusion on the Y Victoria Board, and a newly formed Bendigo Regional sub-committee enshrined in the Victorian Y’s constitution – the first sub-committee to have this unique position.
Mr Hart said the local Y service clubs, long-time supporters of the Y Services Club, would also be kept informed via this sub-committee.
He was also pleased that out of Bendigo’s workforce of 151,148 had been offered and accepted new contracts with Y Victoria.
Mr Hart acknowledged the outstanding manner in which outgoing Bendigo CEO Jane Robson had managed the merger, despite not having an ongoing role with the Y moving forward, and thanked her for her leadership.
National President Chris Lewis congratulated the two Associations on the “conscious choice” they had made, to enable the Y in Bendigo to expand its footprint.
"Two Ys are here tonight changing their destiny by coming together. It’s an exciting time for the Y.”
Ian Hart said the integration of the two organisations was good for both the Y in Bendigo, and Y Victoria.
“A key example is in the children’s programs where joining together has enabled us reach and scale and created the ability to collectively invest in specialist Outside School Hours Care capability and roles that will help us deliver better services to our children and families, both here in the Bendigo Region, and elsewhere where Y Victoria operates other children’s programs, well into the future.”
This merger is the most recent in a series of mergers that has taken place to strengthen the YMCA Movement in Australia in recent years. In 2016, Kalgoorlie merged with WA, three Ys in the Northern Territory became one in 2017, Grampians and Ballarat also merged in 2017, and Manningham merged with Victoria in 2018.