Our National President Ben Hubbard shares a reflection on attending the 20th World Council of the YMCA in Aarhus, Denmark.
Earlier this month, 104 staff and volunteers from across the Y in Australia had the opportunity to participate in the 20th World Council of the YMCA in Aarhus, Denmark. The delegation included 43 in person delegates and 62 who took part remotely, a first for a World Council.
The World Council is not just the critical decision-making body of the global movement; this year’s Council also adopted a new Strategic Plan for the movement – Vision 2030. The Plan is based on four key pillars – a just world; meaningful work; community wellbeing; and a sustainable planet – and provides the basis of the World YMCA activities for the next eight years.
We look forward to the Ys in Australia playing a role as it is rolled out.
We will draw both on the co-design process that took place at World Council through ‘co-labs’ and our own continued co-design process.
The Council provided networking and connection opportunities that transcended borders and ages. Through Dinner with a Dane our Australian crew got to experience hygge (a Danish word meaning ‘to give comfort, courage, joy’) and the best of Danish food and festivities. The social program mixed it up through the week, from early in the day to late at night at Godsbanen. And importantly, the online program provided unique content for the remote attendees with engagement (and entertainment) of exceptionally high quality.
At the wrap up event for the delegates in Aarhus, I set the challenge to write themselves a note of how they will bring the insights and learnings back to their own Associations. This will look differently for everyone, but I’m utterly convinced there are benefits for everyone.
This World Council also saw Australia punch well above its weight (don’t be alarmed, this is just a Gen X saying!).
Our own Jan Owen and Diane Shelton played critical roles in pulling together the development and launch of Vision 2030. We had our best and brightest on stage, back on stage and hosting online – Emily Greco, Ang Cuy, Olly Tripodi, Kevin Kapeke, Kergen Angel, Phil Doorgachurn and Prue Warrilow.
The Co-lab process benefitted from great Australian expertise – we had a number of facilitators amongst the ranks – Amelia Shaw, Leigh Johns, Laurice Temple, Prue Warrilow, Tim McDonald and Kevin Kapeke.
Three specific shout outs – to our social media (and social) guru Lauren Pollock for the awesome digital content while the Council was on; to our National CEO, Tal, who was one of three Endnote speakers; her thoughtful and compassionate speech led to a spontaneous standing ovation. And David Beach and the Y Gear crew who created t-shirts, pins and message sticks that were the envy of the Council.
The Council saw the conclusion of Ballarat’s own Alan Morton’s service as a member of the Executive Committee (effectively, the World YMCA Board). We thank him for his important contribution over an 8-year period). But Chris Lewis from Y Whittlesea, Y Safeguarding and the National Board, was elected for a four-year term, continuing our presence on the global stage.
Finally, thank you to the Boards, CEOs and Managers that create the opportunities for our great people to take part in the week. It’s time worth spending, but I also know they had plenty of other things to do at the time – and other important things to put the required resources towards.
If you haven’t asked your colleagues, who attended, about World Council, please do so.
Ask them how it was; ask them what they liked the best and why; and ask them what are the learnings, insights and opportunities for us.
The World Council was an important reminder of our shared mission, not just in Australia but across the world. It is inspiring to be part of something so much bigger than just our local patch. And with that global fellowship and common history comes a unique opportunity for global action.