THRIVE #OnlyWithTheY


Pictured from left to right: Chantal Brodrick, Janelle Falkingham, Katy Nikroo, Anthony Neal, Michelle Bridges, Fiona Kriaris, Carolyn Morris and Mack Horton.

Over 175 recreation industry leaders, council partners and YMCA staff from across the nation met at South Wharf on Friday 6 September to attend the THRIVE #OnlyWithTheY forum. They celebrated the Y’s successes and uncovered the best way to create positive outcomes in communities into the future.

The morning kicked off with the newly appointed CEO, Carolyn Morris, who told the story of why she chose the Y and the organisation’s focus on creating future leaders and encouraging innovation.

Industry leaders Michelle Bridges and Mack Horton then shared their inspirational journeys. Health and fitness guru, Michelle Bridges, came full circle when she was presented with a YMCA t-shirt, a reference to her first job at YMCA Alice Springs. Her key message was that consistency is key and “habits, routines and rituals” are important when trying to make positive life changes.

Olympic gold medallist, Mack Horton, then gave the audience the advice his dad gave him in the car to and from his early morning training sessions. He went on to list the four things you need to succeed: a goal, a clear pathway, a strong work ethic and a subject matter expert. He also divulged his childhood heroes, Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe, and shared some insights from the recent World Championships in South Korea.

Chief Executive of YMCA Recreation and Camping, Anthony Neal shifted the focus inward and congratulated the team on their achievements, highlighting the impressive industry recognition of YMCA Victoria programs and centres.

YMCA Youth Services shared the impact their initiatives are having on three key social issues – mental wellbeing, civic engagement and youth unemployment. The presentation from the Executive Management team, Ian Boorman and Mick Cronin, showcased success stories from YMCA Evolve, YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament and YMCA Bridge Project, and spoke about the potential for growth of these programs over the next financial year.

After a well-deserved lunch break, Recreation Area Managers, Nadine Kemp and Richard Quail, facilitated Q&A panels with industry leaders and YMCA Victoria inspired young people.

The Aquatics panel took on topics of safety and swimming lessons, with observations and perspectives from Bernadette Matthews (Life Saving Victoria), Lane Harrison (Product Manager at GreeneDesk) and Erika Gleeson (Autism Swim Clinical Director).

Erika spoke about the challenges of families with children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, who are 160% more likely to drown than their peers. She also shared how the partnership between YMCA Victoria and Autism Swim is helping reduce these statistics and promote inclusion in the pool.

The Health and Wellness panel took a technology and future focus. FitTech entrepreneur, Deborah Goldberg and host of The Fitness Business Podcast, Chantal Brodrick discussed global equipment and psychological fitness trends. And Fitness Australia CEO, Barrie Elvish gave insight into the future of Fitness Australia, and the need to extend the definition of a gym from “four wall spaces”.

YMCA inspired young people, Melissa Watson and Isabelle Ferreri spoke about global and local YMCA experiences including Swim for Safety in Cambodia and Ladies Who Lift programs respectively. They showed the audience the future of organisation through their eyes and it was taken on board wholeheartedly by everyone in the room.

“The THRIVE forum is a platform that created a purpose to celebrate, learn, and connect with our common goal to make people healthier and more connected,” said Fiona Kriaris, Health and Wellness Product Manager and THRIVE event coordinator.

Attendees left the event inspired by the high calibre of presentations from a diverse range of speakers and are motivated to convert the knowledge into their communities.