Global history

The Y is one of the oldest and largest youth-focused movements in the world. The Y was founded in London, England in 1844. From its inception, through to the early 1900s, the focus was on the welfare of young men, and related social concerns. In 1851, after first reaching America, the Y further spread its wings to Adelaide on the back of the gold rush. From the mid-1930s to the early 1960s, the Y 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.

The Y has come a long way since forming in 1844. We now operate in 120 countries around the world, reaching 64 million people. YMCA associations continue to be strongly rooted in their communities and offer a variety of programs and services based on local priorities and issues affecting young people and their communities. The Y is no longer focused on just supporting young men. Rather, we're committed to providing opportunities for all people regardless of their religion, gender, race. However, our focus continues to be on empowering young people to create a better future. 

Y Victoria is part of the YMCA World Alliance and YMCA Asia Pacific Urban Network. Together with Ys around the globe, we're committed to promoting empowerment, social justice and peace for young people and their communities through four key areas – health, employment, civic engagement and environment. 


Y Victoria is a community association offering programs and services throughout Victoria. We work as part of a national movement of 15 YMCA associations, which are governed by YMCA Australia. We work closely alongside these other Victorian associations:

Find out more about Y Victoria.


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