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Be Like Diane: How Chats, Chair Yoga, and Charity Create Contentment

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When you’re in your eighties you’ve lived a little—you’ve spent your whole life making connections; you’ve met a lot of people. The thing about being in your eighties and having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic is that your opportunity to socialise dwindles. People your age are still wary of cramped places with unfamiliar people. You then add into the mix a major, debilitating stroke and it may feel like socialising is a dream of the past—a nice-to-have but intangible-to-grasp wisp of a former life.

You might feel this way, but then you wouldn’t be Diane.

Diane has lived on and off in the bayside suburb of Wynnum since the 1960s when she was raising her family. She was living in Wynnum and volunteering at a local shop when she suffered a stroke last year that saw her lose the ability to speak and walk. For most people, that would temper their social spark.

For Diane, talking to anyone and everyone, “chatting” to people in her home suburb is part of her character. When the stroke took that away, Diane was determined to rehabilitate her health.

She spent 3 months in intensive rehabilitation staying at her daughter’s house on the other side of Brisbane. This was a period of her life when physios, occupational health therapists, stroke specialists, and speech therapists comprised her social circle and her movement was limited to walking assisted to the end of the driveway and back.

Fast forward to today, only 6 months after the stroke, and Diane is a regular visitor to the Y Wynnum Community Centre and a welcoming member of the Y’s chair yoga classes. She stumbled upon the Y by being social and chatting with the ladies at the curtain shop.

“I just walked into the curtain shop one day and started chatting and one of the ladies there, she told me about the yoga that the Y puts on,” Diane said, having regained her ability to talk.

The yoga the women were referring to was chair yoga—a modified form of a practice that dates back thousands of years. A 2022 study of rehab patients revealed even just 12 weeks of attending chair yoga classes resulted in improvements in mobility, body awareness, and pain levels. It's also known to improve several physiological and psychological stress markers.

Diane was intrigued, running it past her stroke specialist and GP. “They said it would be good to do. So, I started going to the chair yoga classes and now I mention it to most people if I think they would be interested.”

The Y chair yoga teacher, Carmel, has since realised that there a lot of people interested in chair yoga.

“Diane has introduced quite a few of our growing chair yoga class,” Carmel said.

“There’s a couple, who are friends of Diane—the wife comes as a social outing and the husband, who has dementia, finds the chair yoga therapeutic. We cater to people who don’t want their mobility issues to completely restrict their functional movement or their time to see others and socialise.

“I saw Diane leaving the Y one time and she struck up a conversation with a lady in a wheelchair. Next class, that lady attended and now she’s a regular. It’s wonderful to see the Y’s chair yoga as a social highlight of people’s week,” Carmel said.

Being a community hub, a gathering place for people to come and share the same space and their time in a social setting, is what continues to ground the Y in the bedrock of Queensland communities.

The Y offers services throughout Queensland and has done so since its formation in 1844 as YMCA. These services cater to Queenslanders in all stages of life from childcare and vacation care services, fitness, affordable housing, vocational schooling, education and training, Op Shops, and the Queensland Youth Parliament.

The Y’s services provide inclusive spaces for people in the community to socialise, learn, connect, be empowered, and feel engaged.

For Diane, her days are full of activities and connection.

“I don’t need to make friends, I have plenty. I talk to everyone, I’m not lonely,” she said.

But Diane is an outlier in our increasingly fast-paced and isolated world where digital connection masquerades as an antidote to loneliness.

Since 2019, the frequency of social contact for people aged over 65-years-old has steadily decreased, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with many averaging only 2-3 social interactions a month.

Loneliness is being described as an epidemic contributing to public health concerns—"the risk of premature death associated with social isolation and loneliness is similar to the risk of premature death associated with well-known risk factors such as obesity,” according to academic meta-analysis reported in the ABS.

“A desire for social connection—and, conversely, an aversion to social disconnection—is part of our evolutionary heritage,” The Conversation shared, “A lone individual without the protection of a social group would be at greater risk of injury, and it therefore makes sense that the immune system would respond by preparing itself to battle off infection. This inflammatory response protects you in the short term. However, it is not ideal for your body to be in this stressed state for a prolonged period, and it could exert a toll on your physical health over time.”

Having a healthy social life contributes to a healthy mind and body and the Y understands its importance as a place for real connections to be made.

The Y community hubs can provide spaces for community groups to gather through facility hire opportunities, as well as being a space for Y-led activities such as movie nights, traineeship programs, yoga classes, games days and bingo, tech education, ‘cuppa and chat’ sessions, craft lessons, multicultural youth nights, the list goes on.

Diane sings the Y’s praises describing the Wynnum Community Centre as “the best thing that has happened to Wynnum”.

With 10 Y Community Centres throughout Queensland, there are plenty of “best things” in communities hoping to meet the next Diane and strengthen the community through connections and socialisation—keeping loneliness away from impacting the heart of Queensland communities.

If you would like to see how you can become involved at your local Y, check out our services here: https://ymcaqueensland.org.au/services

 

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Building Lasting Hope for Queenslanders Living with Cancer

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For many families in Australia, a cancer diagnosis is an unexpected reality that is oftentimes filled with uncertainty, isolation, and disempowerment.

Despite one in four Australians being diagnosed with cancer every four minutes, every individual’s experience with cancer is unique. But it doesn’t mean that those living with diagnosis should do it alone. 

A recent study found that increased exposure to social support was significantly associated with higher survival rates. Supporting studies suggesting that perceived social support also improves how well cancer survivors psychologically adjust after treatment.

Despite these findings, we observed limited opportunities for those living with cancer to connect and support each other in their journey.

In 2016, Y Queensland embarked on a mission to change that.

 

Our YMCA Cancer Survivor Program

Since its inception in 1864, Y Queensland has been dedicated to creating happy, healthy, and connected communities across the state. So, when it became clear that Queenslanders living with cancer needed more support, it was an easy decision to play our part.  

The YMCA Cancer Survivor program is a free 12-week program that engages anyone living with, or beyond cancer to engage in physical activity. It invites a warm, hopeful, and diverse community of cancer survivors and trained professionals to support each other through their difficult circumstances.  

Lived experiences and studies have shown that cancer not only affects the physical condition of a person but also touches their mental, emotional, social, and spiritual spheres of life.  

Everyone knows, or has known, a friend or family member impacted by a cancer diagnosis, and the complexities that come with it. In developing an enriching program, we wanted to help those impacted and provide a safe, inclusive environment to focus on their health and connect with community.  

Our program sprung from the very heart of what we do, every day—and extending our existing services to develop a tailored program for those battling this disease means we can give our help where it’s needed most.   

Let’s get physical

The exercise component of the program is primarily focussed on helping participants reclaim their sense of wellness and achievement. The physical activity that our cancer survivors engage aims to:

  • Increase physical function
  • Improve quality of life
  • Mitigate side effects of cancer treatment
  • Reduce the risk of other lifestyle related diseases

 

We believe by taking this holistic approach to movement, our program can help restore individuals to their fullest potential.  

From the initial stages of the program’s development, Y Queensland has closely worked with exercise professionals and researchers from the University of Queensland to inform the structure of the program and ensure safe and appropriate exercises are presented to our participants.  

In 2016, the University of Queensland studied one of the first cohorts of the 12-week program—made up of 30 patients living with cancer—and found that the program improved health outcomes. Findings from the study showed that the functional capacity of patients significantly improved, and body weight was maintained. It also found that the program improved participants balance and reduced their sedentary behaviour.

As the first Queensland program of its kind delivered in a gym setting at no cost, the Cancer Survivor program will not only continue to grow but it will continue to advance the way in which communities can support those with cancer.  

 

More than movement

While exercise is a key component to helping our members recover, our program goes far beyond the physical. We aim to provide a nurturing hub for those living with cancer to find support, understanding, belonging, and hope.

Throughout the span of this program, we have heard heart-warming stories from team members who have seen first-hand how the program has brought comradery amongst those who have previously felt isolated by the cancer diagnosis.

Fitness Manager at Y Queensland, and an accredited exercise scientist and wellness coach, Bree Halloran said “The biggest thing is bringing together people who have been through similar situations. They can talk about their situation when they’ve potentially never had someone to talk about it with.”

The program is designed to help to grow tight-knit communities that can support each other, where classes have an average size of approximately 12 people.

One of the most committed participants of our program is Rob. Diagnosed with CNS lymphoma, Rob was visiting hospital when he saw a poster inviting him to the program.  

“It was transformational for me,” Rob shared, “All of a sudden I was with people who were just like me.”

It’s been rewarding not only for our Fitness Managers but our broader network to observe how participants who have been thrust into a situation as sudden and difficult as a cancer diagnosis, have been spurred onto persevere through meaningful connections.

It takes leaders to build a community

Since its inception, we have had over 794 participants join our program. A significant driving force behind this success is the hard work of our Fitness Managers, who not only provide professional help but are strong pillars of support for participants.

“Bree has been an angel in disguise for us,” said Shelley, one of the wonderful participants of our cancer survivor program, “she’s the right person for the job.”  

When it comes to helping our cancer survivors’ program, our Fitness Managers intimately understand the unique perspective and needs of participants.  

“People don’t want to be in hospitals once they’re finished with treatment. Bringing them to a community, like a gym, is taking the next step,” Bree shared.   

“Usually, we run one program at a time, but if we could run multiple programs at the same time, we could help more people.”

Fitness Managers like Bree look after our members and our fitness centres—their goal is to serve their community and ensure that all members are welcomed into our inspiring and diverse space at The Y.  

Ultimately, they are a major part of why this program has grown such a positive legacy amongst locals, and we hope alongside with Bree that many more people take on rewarding challenges and joys of being a Fitness Manager for their local Fitness Centre.

If you have received a cancer diagnosis, we want you to know that you are not alone. This journey, though difficult and unstable, can be helped with friends and support along the way.

If you would like to be a part of a welcoming community and ease into regular movement, please consider joining our Cancer Survivor program. Members across Queensland have found much support, hope and joy in joining these community groups, and we hope that these benefits can be extended to you.

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Celebrating 20 Years at the Y: Helen’s Lifetime of Impact

Helen Maugham (3rd from the right) with her crew at YMCA Acacia Ridge Gymnastics during 2022 Christmas celebration

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As a child, Helen Maugham would play in a small park in Acacia Ridge, enjoying the two swings and a slide. Years later, she would manage the popular gymnastics centre built on that very site.

Helen has dedicated her life to supporting the Acacia Ridge community, and is this year celebrating the momentous milestone of working at YMCA Acacia Ridge for 20 years.

Now the manager of YMCA Acacia Ridge Gymnastics, Helen reflects back on the ties she’s always felt to the region and the Y.

“I was born and raised a few houses up from my Acacia Ridge Centre,” Helen said.

“As a late teen, I would go with a group of friends into the YMCA in the city to use the latest fad of a sauna followed by a cold shower.

“The YMCA Acacia Ridge was built in 1977, and in my early twenties I attended Jazz ballet classes at the centre.

“Never in my wildest dreams while I was taking a class that in 30 years’ time I would eventually be the Manager of the centre.”

Memories over milestones

While 20 years of service is a major milestone, Helen’s greatest achievement is the long-lasting impact she has made on thousands of families.

Under Helen’s leadership, the number of children coming to YMCA Acacia Ridge every year to experience the sport of gymnastics has grown from 180 children to 650 children.

“We put a lot of attention on the individual – they’re not just someone who pays their money to come here, it’s very much about each child and what they’re like and how we can do the best for them,” Helen said.

“I sit with the parents and I talk to them and ask them how they’re going. Very much finding out about what’s going on in their lives.

“As soon as we hear someone’s in trouble, we do what we can do to support them and help them.”

From organising food parcels for struggling families to making sure there are colouring pencils for young children to enjoy when coming to watch their siblings practise gymnastics, Helen considers the Acacia Ridge community her family.

Friendships that span a lifetime

Just as Helen cares about her community, her community loves coming to YMCA Acacia Ridge.

Caitlin Turnbull, a past YMCA gymnast and now YMCA coach, said Helen has had a profound impact on her life.

“I did KinderGym with her when I was four or five,” Caitlin said.

“She’s just a positive role model; we all look up to her. She’s kind of like my second Mum.”

Another past student turned coach, Hannah Hodgson, who has known Helen since she was nine, said Helen is a highly respected and loved leader.

“She’s my boss and I understand that and I have the utmost respect for all her decisions… But she is very much so a friend,” Hannah said.

“She’s really empowering of us and wants us to work hard, achieve our goals and definitely find our place in the world.”

Hannah starting training to be a coach when she was still in high school, and several years later she is now an Advanced Coach and Gymnastics Coordinator.

“They very much helped us get our coursework done. They found the time to help us through it, understand it, actually build our skills so we had technical knowledge and skills knowledge,” Hannah said.

Helen has always been a trailblazer in supporting young gymnasts to pursue their goals and gain their coaching and judging qualifications in gymnastics. Having always paid for her older gymnasts to gain their coaching qualifications, her model of sponsoring students to gain their coaching accreditation inspired the Y to establish the YMCA Gymnastics Junior Coach Development Program.

The program pays for young people age 14-19 to gain their Gymnastics Australia coaching qualification at any YMCA Gymnastic Centre in Queensland.

Helen (right) with a young gymnastic coach

What’s next?

Despite recently having knee surgery and being unable to teach classes on the floor, Helen has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

“A few people have asked me ‘why don’t I retire after this?’, but it’s the joy of being here with these guys, watching the children, the centre,” Helen said.

“There’s only one way to make a centre successful and you have to think of it as your own… It’s home.”

Congratulations on 20 years at YMCA Acacia Ridge, Helen!

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Hazel's Progress: A Heartwarming Journey with Magical Ponies

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On April 9th, our Y Victoria Point Centre hosted a special event: "Magical Ponies" came to visit! As part of our Farm Theme in Kindergym, we offered unlimited pony rides for a gold coin donation. It was a hit, especially among our young students from the swim school and gymnastics program.

Among them was Hazel, a 3.5-year-old girl living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Hazel has been part of our Kindergym program for about two years now, and her journey has been remarkable. However, she often finds group sessions overwhelming and struggles with separation anxiety from her mom.

Our Kindergym leaders, Miss Lou and Miss Laura, have been amazing in supporting Hazel. With their patience and dedication, Hazel has made significant progress. Recently, she transitioned to the Gym Kids program, taking her first steps without her mom by her side.
Hazel's love for unicorns and horses is clear, and when the ponies arrived, she was overjoyed. Climbing onto a pony, Hazel's demeanor changed. She was calm, independent, and fully engaged, which brought smiles to everyone's faces.

The impact of the pony visit went beyond that day. Hazel's newfound confidence carried over to her Gym Kids class, where she excitedly shared her pony experience with her classmates. For Hazel, who finds social interactions challenging, this was a major breakthrough.

Her mom witnessed the significance of this interaction when Hazel ran up to another little girl in her class and said, “I saw the ponies, did you see the ponies?” This simple exchange symbolised a big step forward for Hazel in socialising independently, a milestone her mom had long hoped for.

At Y Queensland, we're committed to making our programs inclusive and meaningful for all our members across centres. Moments like Hazel's journey remind us of the importance of our work. We celebrate the dedication of our coaches and the progress of every member.
As we continue to plan activities, our mission remains unchanged:  provide opportunities for all people to grow in body, mind and spirit. With community support and impactful initiatives, we look forward to many more heartwarming moments like Hazel's at Y Queensland.

Check out the amazing programs at Y Victoria Point here.

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Leslie's Journey Comes Full Circle at YMCA Warwick

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Meet Leslie, a lively 97-year-old member of the Y Warwick Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Centre, whose story is a great example of just how the YMCA brings people together, no matter their age or background.

Leslie joined the YMCA when he was just 21 when he lived in Brisbane. Now, many years later, he's back with the YMCA in Warwick, and couldn't be happier.

Four years ago, Leslie moved to Warwick to be closer to his family. Soon after, he hurt his shoulder and started using the YMCA's hydrotherapy pool as part of his recovery. Once he felt better, he decided to become a member so he could keep coming for hydrotherapy and exercise.

"I really recommend the hydrotherapy pool," Leslie says. "It keeps my joints moving, and it's a great way to meet people. Plus, it gets me out of the house four days a week!"

Leslie loves how everyone at the YMCA is friendly and helpful. "It doesn’t matter who you are," he says. "Rich or poor, everyone is welcome at the YMCA."

For Leslie, the YMCA feels like a second home. He's grateful for the support of the staff, who are always there to lend a hand. "People should give them more attention," Leslie says. "They're just trying to help."

Leslie's story shows how the YMCA is more than just a gym—it's a place where people of all ages can come together, stay healthy, and feel like they belong to a community.

Check out all the amazing programs that are happening at the Y Warwick Centre here.

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Love Yourself, Love Your Heart

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When we think of self-love, our first thought might not be exercise. In fact, we’re more likely to consider activities that could harm us in the long term, such as eating an excess of unhealthy foods or binge-watching. While these activities can invoke temporary pleasure and be a part of a healthy lifestyle, we believe that the best kind of self-care sets us up for the long run.

At the Y, we believe that physical activity is incredibly important to living a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it strengthen your physical body, but it also can help support your emotional wellbeing, especially when engaging in activities alongside others.

We see the heart as a vital organ that plays an important role in keeping us moving. However, it also envelops our ideas surrounding emotional needs and mental happiness. Helping others take care of both aspects of the heart is what we’re all about.

Today, the leading cause of death in Australia today is coronary heart disease (CHD).

In 2020-21, an estimated 571,000 Australians were living with CHD with recent studies suggesting a strong correlation between those with CHD and poor mental wellbeing. While 1 in 6 Australians live with CHD, all Australians can practice self-love by taking care of their heart health through exercise.

In fact, exercising regularly can help improve holistic quality of life.

Quality of life is something that we take seriously at the Y. We know that health is grounded in both our physical and mental experiences, and that’s why our services aim to support members in engaging in activities that nourish both the body and the mind. 

Movement for the body

Physical activity offers a range of benefits to our bodies and overall health, particularly for our heart health.

By engaging in regular exercise, individuals can:

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Lower their blood pressure and triglyceride levels
  • Raise HDL cholesterol levels
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Help reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which can indicate heart inflammation
  • Reduce the risk of other health conditions

These benefits can impact our overall health long after we have first engaged in exercise.

Studies have shown that by developing muscle mass and bone strength from an early age, the process of aging is slowed, and the impacts of age-related diseases such as CHD are reduced. In particular, exercises that engage our cardiovascular system such as running, high-intensity interval training and strength-training can help promote longevity and ward off the onset of diseases associated with aging.

Movement for the mind

Not only does physical activity helps our bodies to keep fit and young, it also offers a range of benefits to our mental state in the short and long term.

Individuals can immediately experience the benefits of movement through:

In the long term, it can also reduce the risk of depression and mental illnesses, which is important to keeping a happy and healthy mind.

Moving with others has also been shown to add benefits to exercising as well as enhancing our performance. Studies have shown that exercising within a community group or class can make physical movement more enjoyable, improve our performance and make it easier to commit to a regular fitness routine.

Getting started

Loving your body, including your heart, does not have to be time-consuming, laborious or boring. It isn’t even something that you have to do by yourself. In fact, habits that support heart health can be social and in an environment that supports you on your health journey, such as:

Ultimately, the exercise you engage in should be personalised to your needs, preferences and limitations. Whether it’s swimming laps or yard work, all types of exercise can contribute to positively impacting our bodies and minds.

Community spaces like the Y

At The Y, we offer more than just fitness activities. As part of our mission to support Australians to become healthier, we see our spaces as community hubs for locals.

Members not only experience the incredible benefits of movement through our spaces, but they also forge life-giving friendships and experience the strong sense of belonging that our warm and diverse communities foster.

Our range of different classes exist to cater to the uniqueness of our expansive communities. One of our most popular classes includes our PryMe Movers program which unites and leads adults over 50 through exercises that improve bone health, strength, cardio, and balance.

We also have local pools where members can engage in aquatic group fitness classes and adult swimming lessons. This a great way to improve overall health, especially for older adults, as it has minimal strain on the body and is less likely to result in injury. Plus, it is plenty of fun to swim and move alongside other like-minded members.

With plenty of opportunities across our different services at the Y, including our Fitness Centres, swimming pools, gymnasiums and Community Centres, members are welcomed and encouraged to have fun with others and feel like they belong with their community all while doing good for their physical and mental health.  

Building healthy habits

Starting up a habit can take time, but taking on regular exercise can reap plenty of rewards for the heart and more. Not only will you be less likely to have a heart-related disease, but exercise can help with lifting your mood, boosting concentration and improving your fitness.

If you’re interested in incorporating exercise into your daily routine, consider the following pieces of advice:

  • Seek professional advice from your local GP or physiologist if you have coronary heart disease or any other conditions that may impact how you exercise
  • Choose an activity that enjoy
  • Incorporate this activity in your routine slowly by identifying when it fits best in your routine and consistently engaging
  • Switch it up — if you don’t like the exercise you’re doing or just want to try something different, you can always change your routine

Whether you’re in your late teens or early 70s, looking after your heart, both physically and mentally, is simply crucial. It will not only provide immediate benefits such as mood boosts and comradeship, but it can also reduce the risk of major heart conditions. When it comes to self-love, exercise might just be one of the most powerful ways to take care of yourself, especially with a community around you. While it may look different at every age, you are never too young or old to take care of your heart and help others do the same.

If you’re interested in joining our Fitness Centres, why not consider getting in touch with our Fitness Managers? Our Fitness Managers are more than happy to help you find an exercise program that fits your routine.

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Queensland Youth Parliament 2024

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Y Queensland’s launch of the 2024 Queensland Youth Parliament (QYP) has spurred young Queenslanders to put people into politics and explore a world typically reserved for Members of Parliament.

Having received more than 400 nominations from Queenslanders aged between 15 to 25 years from the most northern tip of the state in the Torres Strait Islands to the political heart of the state, QYP aims to be truly representative of the views and concerns of the state’s next generation of community leaders.

For the last 29 years, Y Queensland has supported the development of young, community-minded individuals as they contribute their unique voices on a very special platform. Believing in the power of inspired young people, year on year we are taken back by the raw talent and passion of the program participants.

This month, we are be proud to welcome the next cohort of 93 young Queenslanders, representing all Queensland electorates, who’ll participate in the initiative that runs over 5 months from April to September. 

 

What’s in store for our cohort

For our QYP Program Coordinator, Martin Boga, the success of our program is the community-led discussions and work that comes out of the year-long QYP.

“What results from the QYP is our youth having the knowledge, confidence, and passion to work in their local communities to deliver grassroots change on issues important to them,” he shared.

Over the past few years, the Youth Parliament’s passed Bills have been considered in the Queensland Parliament legislation with submissions by politicians drawing upon sentiment within the Youth Bills—one such example being the QYP Bill on the hundred-hour drivers’ logbook which was quoted in a Ministerial submission to Queensland Parliament. While Youth Bills imitate parliamentary process and documents they are not binding; they are, however, reviewed by the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Council (OQPC)—the same office that reviews and formats binding legislation. This offers QYP a level of legitimacy in the formatting and presentation of the Youth Bills.

“Throughout the 5-month QYP program, the 93 QYP electoral members along with the QYP youth advisors form committees aligned with Queensland Government Departments—they debate real issues pertinent in the communities and form mock Bills to pass in QYP,” Martin said.

“Youth Members are also encouraged to engage with their communities through volunteering, organising fundraising activities, and attending community events.

“In 2023, the QYP participants included Members who organised a Share the Dignity Drive in Redlands (Youth Member for Redlands); who spoke on a Women’s Space Sandgate panel (Youth Member for Sandgate); who drafted a Youth Bill about facial recognition privacy laws and in researching this organised a meeting with the New York City Council on similar laws there (Youth Member for Jordan); and who led a community discussion and Q&As about the Voice Referendum (Youth Member for Springwood).”

 

QYP process

This year Y Queensland received well over 400 nominations—an increase on our previous record of 442 applications last year and a huge jump from the 348 nominations in 2022. Nominations were received from 90 of the 93 electorates—a record spread of nominations across Queensland.

With the continual increase in nominations, we have launched an additional program—a Youth Advisory Council. This Council is another avenue for eager applicants to dive into public hearings with the QYP Members to raise community concerns and topics worthy of potential Youth Bills.

Through QYP and the Youth Advisory Council, young people can be a voice on issues that are most important to them. QYP offers specific committees to match particularly passionate participants with their keenest interest areas.

The QYP Committees, aligned with Queensland Government Departments, are:

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Partnerships 
  • Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Resources and Critical Minerals and Regional Development and Manufacturing
  • Science and Innovations, Digital Services, Trade and Investment and Tourism and Sport
  • Education, Employment and Small Business and the Arts
  • Justice, Police and Community Safety and Corrective Services
  • Energy and Clean Economy Jobs, Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Water
  • Fire and Disaster Recovery, Housing, Local Government and Planning, Rural Communities and State Development and Infrastructure
  • Health, Mental Health and Emergency Services, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence and Seniors and Disability Services

 

Each Committee decides upon a Youth Bill, Members debate this Youth Bill throughout the year, including amendments, and then vote to pass the Youth Bill. Once passed, the Youth Bill is sent to the Office of Youth and then passed to the Queensland Government Minister responsible for the corresponding Portfolio.

“There are so many opportunities for Queensland youth to learn about community action, community mobilisation, and effective grassroots change,” Martin said.

“Through The Y’s QYP 5-month program, participants learn the political process and can then take that knowledge back to their communities and effect real change.”

 

Benefits of being involved

It isn’t only the politically minded who benefit from QYP. Indeed, he finds that most QYP members are drawn to the community-mindedness of the program.

“Our QYP youth want to find out more about politics. They may be politically curious, but that usually isn’t the driver for them applying,” Martin said.

“Usually, they hear from their school leadership or from friends who have been involved previously about the confidence-building benefits that QYP gives.

“Making new connections, learning how to facilitate group discussions, understanding grassroots engagement, debating causes, getting involved in local community charities and groups—all of these spurs our participants to become leaders in their communities far and wide throughout Queensland.

“A further reason for getting involved has emerged in the past few years. We survey our QYP participants annually, and the disenfranchisement of our young people is increasing. They feel stigmatisation from media coverage of youth crime and want to present a positive voice about youth.”

A benefit for school senior students is gaining one point towards their Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) as recognition of a participant’s involvement in QYP and upon completion of QYP’s opt-in assessment program.

 

Not just 12 months

Life-long curiosity and learning is something that is inherent to the program, with many past participants sharing that the empowerment developed from QYP is carried with them in the years following. Now heading the program, Martin was in fact a participant in the program 8 years ago and was one of the few nominated for a second year in the program.

“Participants can nominate for a second year in QYP as long as they satisfy the age requirement at the time of nomination (15-25 years old); however, because of the sheer number of youths wanting to get involved it’s rare that second year is rewarded,” Martin said.

“With our new Youth Advisory Council, we hope more participants will both be able to benefit from going through the QYP process as well as having 2 options to choose from—QYP and the Advisory Council.

“With these 2 avenues, Queensland’s youth will take the political nous, and the community facilitation and engagement skills and make a big impact in their communities—making parliamentary submissions and understanding how one person’s voice in far regional Queensland can be heard and how that voice can impact how the entire State is governed.”

Martin isn’t the only former Member who works on the program.

“Helping me is our QYP Executive. These are all former Youth Members who are aged between 18 years’ old and 25 years’ old and who volunteer their time to help me run the program,” Martin explained.

“While I head up the program, I am partnered with the Youth Governor who assists with operation support and works as my 2IC. The Youth Governor is a member of the Executive who is elected by the current year’s as well the previous year’s Executive.”  

Martin acknowledges the efforts of his volunteer Executive, “Across the year the Executive volunteer hundreds of hours to the program and really are often the unsung heroes of QYP.” 

In 2024, the Executive consists of: 

Jordan Engel (Youth Governor)

Paige Mackie (Mentor Coordinator)

Tobias Kennett (Parliamentary and Education Officer)

Nick Deevy (Parliamentary Officer)

Hannah Woodard White (Parliamentary Officer)

Grace Campbell (Community Engagement & Recreations Officer)

Harrison Booth (Community Engagement & Recreations Officer)

Jasmin Peak (Media and Marketing Officer)

Sebastian Padget (Media and Marketing Officer)

Brandon Harvey (Mentor)

Madison Hilker (Mentor)

Eva Marks (Mentor)

Jeremy Kye (Mentor)

Madeline Crothers (Mentor)

Indi McKeown (Mentor)

Declan Baggow (Mentor)

Jennifer Chubarova (Mentor)

Many previous members of the QYP program have since made impactful political careers, including Kate Jones (Youth Premier 1996), Aidan McLindon (Youth Opposition Leader 1996) and the Hon. Mark Ryan MP (Youth Member).

“A number of members are currently running in the upcoming State and local Brisbane Council elections,” Martin said, “including Emily Kim who was the Youth Premier in 2021 and is running for Calamvale Ward, Nelson Savahn who was the Youth in 2016 and is running in Ferny Grove, Thomas Stephen who was a Youth Member and is running in the Bracken Ridge Ward, and Jasper Every who was also a Youth Member and is running in Division 6 – Redland Bay City Council.”

The core objective of Y Queensland is to generate places of connection, belonging, and support. When young people are inspired and empowered within an environment that recognises and lifts their passions up, great things happen.

QYP is the amalgamation of our values with the express purpose of giving a voice to young people who are otherwise closed out of discussions that impact their lives. We are exceptionally proud of our support of the program hosted by Queensland Parliament.

Y Queensland warmly welcomes our 2024 cohort this March and wishes them all the best. We cannot wait to see what they bring to the discussion on youth politics, access, and education.

Interested in following the journey of the 2024 cohort? Follow their progress on our Facebook Page and Instagram.

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Queensland Youth Parliamentarians Take Their Seat

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More than 90 young leaders from across Queensland will be in Brisbane this month to take their seats at the YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament (25-29 September). The young leaders, aged between 15 and 25, cover all 89 Queensland electorates with an additional four positions for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander members.

Now in its 17th year, the YMCA Youth Parliament kicks off in April when coordinated committee meetings, mentoring, training and research help produce the Bills to be debated at Parliament House during the residential week.

Mr Alan Bray, State Director of the State Council of YMCAs, said “we started the program to empower young people to have a positive impact on their local communities and the future of Queensland. Like all YMCA programs, Queensland Youth Parliament fosters the potential of people and builds community engagement. For emerging young leaders, it offers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to our political system and become involved in a meaningful way,” Alan said. 

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The Y’s Response to the Australian Human Rights Commission

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Yesterday, 3rd May 2021, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report publishing its key findings and presenting 12 recommendations for an extensive culture change for gymnastics in Australia. The Y fully supports these 12 recommendations and the adoption of the recommendations to ensure that gymnastics in Australia is a safe and inclusive sport for all children and young people.

Along with Gymnastics Australia, we also thank the athletes and other community members who engaged in the review process and acknowledge their bravery in doing so.

You can view Gymnastics Australia’s statement on the published report here.

The YMCA in Australia is committed to ensuring that all children and young people can feel safe and be safe at the Y, in their families and in their communities. To achieve this vision, we have implemented a safeguarding framework that holds the Y to the highest possible standards in keeping children and young people safe. Our Framework has children and young people at the forefront and incorporates the 10 National Child Safe Principles, child safety legislative requirements and international best practice.

National Office Contacts
(Communications)
Di McDonald – 0412 858 556
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(Safeguarding)
Phil Doorgachurn – 0401 515 850
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Y Staff and Volunteers Light Up the Night 2023

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The Y Queensland family came together on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023, to celebrate the Annual Staff and Volunteers Christmas Party at the dazzling Events on Oxdale. The night, themed "Light up the Night," was a spectacular gathering of our dedicated staff and volunteers from various Y Queensland services, including housing, fitness and recreation, childcare and OSHC, youth programs, op shops, and community centers.

The festivities kicked off with a mesmerising live performance by the Nick Trovas Acoustic Duo, setting the perfect tone for an unforgettable evening. Our lively hosts, Jamie and Anne, ensured the event was filled with laughter, joy, and a sense of community. A significant highlight of the night was the acknowledgment and celebration of Y staff who have dedicated 5, 10, and an impressive 35+ years to our cause.

Our CEO, Damian Foley, added a touch of leadership and gratitude to the evening. Damian took the stage to express his heartfelt thanks to everyone for attending the party, and extending a special shout-out to the volunteers in OSHC and Op shops for their incredible hard work and contributions.

The evening unfolded with a delightful dinner and refreshing drinks, creating the perfect atmosphere for everyone to unwind and socialise. The celebration continued late into the night with a lively DJ, ensuring that the dance floor remained ablaze with energy.

As a token of appreciation and recognition, several awards were presented to outstanding individuals and groups. The "Best Dressed Award," "Most Innovative Costume," "Best Dancer," "Best Interpretation of the Theme," and the coveted "Life of the Party Group" awards added an extra layer of excitement to the event. The Y Queensland Annual Staff and Volunteers Xmas Party 2023 truly embodied the spirit of celebration, connection, and community. It was an evening filled with laughter, music, and recognition, underscoring the importance of community and the invaluable contributions made by each member of the Y Queensland family.

Check out the photos from the party here Staff and Volunteers Christmas Party 2023

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YMCA Creates Course To Beat The Rat Race

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One of Brisbane’s oldest organisations, the YMCA, has come to the rescue of the River City, creating a solution to defeat the dreaded rat race by turning the iconic Brisbane River, Botanical Gardens and Goodwill Bridge into a fun obstacle course pitting participants against a range of challenging (but very achievable) obstacles.

The YMCA Rat Race gives busy Brisbaneites the perfect chance to escape the daily grind and join their friends and colleagues in a fun and friendly team event supporting the YMCA and their YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program.

YMCA Brisbane Marketing and Fundraising Manager Jane Barr-Thomson said the Rat Race offers a great opportunity for people across South East Queensland to take part in a fun event and support a program designed for people of varying fitness levels.

“The Rat Race is a perfect opportunity for people across South East Queensland to get together with their friends and family for a fun and friendly team event supporting a much needed program,” Ms Barr-Thomson said.

The Rat Race supports the YMCA School’s Breakfast Program, which was designed to help improve disadvantaged Queensland student’s academic, community and behavioural outcomes.

Ms Barr-Thomson said the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program is an important service feeding students disadvantaged by hunger and poor nutrition before they start school for the day.

“We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day and over the past 10 years, the Schools’ Breakfast Program has served more than three million breakfasts to students across Queensland,” Ms Barr-Thomson said.

The YMCA Brisbane is one of Brisbane’s oldest organisations offering the community a range of services and youth programs to more than 10,000 members every week.

Registrations for teams to participate in the YMCA Rat Race are open now with the Family and Team Events taking place Sunday 15 October 2017.

People can register their team to compete in either the 8km team event or the family friendly 4km family event. Both courses start and finish in Captain Burke Park under the iconic Story Bridge.

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YMCA Mobilises Millions to Break Basketball World Record

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Millions of people were mobilised on Saturday 13th October, for the YMCA World Challenge 2012 Hoop Springs Eternal - a coordinated celebration of the YMCA and the work it does to build strong communities and empower young people.

YMCA events took place in thousands of local communities across five continents and included a global basketball shoot-out. Invented in a YMCA in 1890, basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world and has been used as a tool to empower people and promote a healthy life style.

To celebrate, local YMCAs hosted free events for the whole family. The YMCA at Bowen Hills and Redlands hosted free family fun days from 8am.

Local residents were invited to visit the two centres – for free group fitness classes, free gym workouts, and for the kids – a free gymnastics class.

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YMCA Opens Vocational School in the Redlands

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A multi-million dollar vocational school run by the YMCA has opened in the Redlands, offering secondary students an alternative education program to mainstream schooling.

YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus provides an opportunity for young people who may not thrive in conventional classrooms to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education and gain vocational certificates in a supportive environment.

Gary Adsett, who oversees all eight YMCA Vocational School campuses across South East Queensland, said the new Redlands campus is already empowering dozens of young people on their journey to employment.

“YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus offers a unique curriculum that encourages attendance, engagement and confidence – including typical high school subjects, social and emotional development lessons, exercise classes, art therapy, counselling and more,” Mr Adsett said.

“What’s different about the Y compared to mainstream schooling is that we adapt our classrooms, lessons, facilities, support programs and teaching style based on the individual needs of our students. We get new students who have previously experienced significant barriers in coming to school and studying, who after spending several weeks at the Y, say they’ve found a place they can call home.”

Students enrolled will have the opportunity to select a vocational pathway to follow, with options like hairdressing, automotive, hospitality, engineering and more.

Currently, 60 students are enrolled at the YMCA Vocational School Redlands Campus.

“There’s a real need in the Redlands to offer young people new avenues to gain employment after school, and a learning environment with increased support. The facility also has an onsite community centre, creating venue hire spaces and offering events everyone in the Redlands can enjoy outside of school hours.”

Over $5 million has been invested into building the Vocational School, with the State Government pledging $2.5 million of funding to see the education resource delivered to the Redlands community.

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Young People Take Over Parliament

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93 teenagers and young adults will be presented the opportunity to change Queensland laws in 2022, with nominations now open for the 27th YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament.

Each year, one Youth Member age 15-25 is selected for every electorate in Queensland, forming the Queensland Youth Parliament.

Queensland Youth Parliament Coordinator, Daniel Patava, says the program is an incredible chance for any young Queenslander wanting to make a difference.

“The program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young people across the state to present bills in Queensland’s Parliament House, debate issues of importance to them, gain first-hand experience being a Member of Parliament, and proudly represent their electorate,” Mr Patava said.

“There are so many young people today who are extremely passionate about issues of concern to them; they want their voices heard and this is a fantastic avenue to instigate the change they want to see."

“Anyone aged 15-25 with a passion for change can nominate for YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament. We are looking for enthusiastic young people who want to use their voice to make a positive impact.”

The 2022 Youth Governor of Queensland, Portia Allison, describes Queensland Youth Parliament as one of the most important youth programs in the state.

“No other program allows you to experience life as a parliamentarian quite like this one. You learn a lot about yourself and the parliamentary system,” Ms Allison said.

“Those selected across the state in 2022 will embark upon a year-long program of bill-writing, community engagement and personal development."

“Youth Parliament also forges strong friendships through teamwork, community outreach and many fun experiences.”

YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament is an accredited education program supported by the Queensland Government, and students can receive credit towards their Queensland Certificate of Education upon completion.

Nominations will remain open until Sunday 20 February 2022. For more information on the program or to apply, visit www.ymcaqyp.org.au.

Download the YMCA QYP 2022 Brochure
Download the YMCA QYP 2022 Poster

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