Victorian government invests $1.6 million to support the wellbeing of young Victorians

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Image: Young people having a lot of fun on a YMCA camp

The Department of Health and Human Services has committed to providing $1.6million funding for the Y to support the development of a ‘Virtual Y’, which will support the physical and mental wellbeing of young Victorians.

The funding will be spent on a new online platform that will include a range of daily programs and activities, packaging the Y’s existing health and wellbeing, nutrition, youth engagement and advocacy programming into online content. This content will be delivered to young Victorians through a range of digital channels including group chat, video conferences, one-on-one discussions and mentoring, pre-recorded and on-demand video content.

The funding comes at a time of severely increased social isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, and where online support and connection for young Victorians has never been more important.

With 90% of YMCA’s business currently in hibernation due to the closures, including recreation facilities, camps and youth programs, a virtual Y will provide YMCA’s customers and program participants with online support and connection in an interactive and accessible way, that will become the ‘new normal’ for the months to come.

“We are so pleased to have received this vital funding which will enable the Y to provide an online space that nurtures, supports and engages young people during this time of crisis,” said Carolyn Morris, CEO YMCA Victoria and Kingswim.

“This funding will enable us to pivot our regular programming across fitness, wellbeing, youth engagement and more, into an online space where young people – and in fact all people – can come and feel safe, supported, and connected.”

At a time when the vast majority of YMCA’s workforce are currently not working due to the closures, Peta Gilles, Executive General Manager Youth Services says the funding will enable the Y to bring many of our team members back to work to deliver this exciting new platform.

“We’ve seen amazing engagement online with our young people since the closures of our physical spaces. Young people have banded together organically to support one another, so we’re pleased that we will be able to work alongside our young people to provide them with the connection and development opportunities they need the most right now,” Peta said.

The YMCA aims to have the new ‘virtual Y’ up and running in the coming weeks and looks forward to providing young people support in this new and exciting way.