The YMCA has been working in local communities across Australia since 1851 providing children's services, recreation, camping, youth services and community initiatives, events, training and accommodation.
However, the humble beginnings of the YMCA started a long way from home, in old London town in 1844.
The YMCA was founded in 1844 during the Industrial Revolution in England, a time of great despair and poverty. George Williams, a drapery merchant, decided that something had to be done. He gathered together a few friends to form a society that met regularly to support each other and gain renewed strength in body, mind and spirit. The group called itself the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). From its inception, through to the early 1900s, the focus was on the welfare of young men, and related social concerns.
Together with the other founding members, George Williams wasted no time in organising YMCA branches throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Over the next ten years, YMCA Movements also began to develop across Western Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
From the mid 1930s to the early 1960s, the YMCA was forced by depression and world war to revert to the original foundations of social and community concern. The emphasis was on youth work, youth clubs, physical development, leadership training, education and welfare. YMCA associations and branches can now be found all over the world.
The YMCA has come a long way since forming in 1844. To be part of the YMCA today you don't need to be young, male, or Christian! Today we are a vibrant, active community organisation, seeking to make a positive difference by providing each and every person with opportunity to be healthy, happy and connected.
YMCA Perth to YMCA WA
Perth was the first YMCA Association in Western Australia, with the opening of a branch in Hay Street in 1869. In the 1870's the work of YMCA Perth run by volunteers faded however restarted again in the 1890's, firmly establishing itself in 1908.
Throughout its history YMCA Perth has held a focus on working with young people through activities such as sports, camps, arts, leadership programs and services such youth work and youth hostels. Key milestones over the years include:
- A gymnasium built in Perth in 1895 which offering classes for women as well
- YMCA Perth youth camps start in 1911
- From 1914-1918, YMCA Perth provided services in a peacetime military camp and for armed services in Australia and war fronts.
- During the depression YMCA Perth helped in the sustenance of workers, held classes for unemployed young people and provided an employment bureau.
- 1940-1945, YMCA Perth staff and volunteers help servicemen and women in war, and from 1946-1961 continue to proved service to peacetime armed services and trainees.
- 1947, YMCA affiliates with National Youth Council
- 1977, YMCA Perth appoints a woman to the Board of Directors
- 2015, YMCA Perth changes name to YMCA WA to reflect the services offered across the state of Western Australia
YMCA WA Merged with Eastern Goldfields YMCA in July 2016
The Eastern Goldfields YMCA was first established in 1902. During the outbreak of the First World War, the Association was up and down until, through the efforts of Kalgoorlie and Boulder Rotary and the Perth YMCA, between 1947 and 1949, a local constitution was established.
In July 2016 Eastern Goldfields YMCA merged with YMCA WA to bring all operations at Kalgoorlie under the YMCA WA umbrella. The decision was made jointly by the two organisations to ensure that the families, children and young people in the region continue to have a robust and committed YMCA in their community.