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Still here for young people through COVID-19

The YMCA NSW (the Y) has warned that Australia is at risk of creating a ‘pandemic generation’ without interventions and more support for young people. 

With a 175-year legacy of supporting young people through events such as the Spanish Flu, World War I, World War II and the Great Depression, the Y has a unique insight into the impacts of global crises on young people.

Y NSW CEO, Susannah Le Bron, said the Y delivers frontline services and programs in more than 40 communities and is seeing and hearing the impacts of COVID-19 on young people first-hand. 

“As a frontline service we are seeing and experiencing high levels of impact of COVID-19 to young people in our communities and workforce in terms of unemployment, interruptions to formal education, reduced community connection and impacts on their mental health,” Ms Le Bron said. 

Despite the financial hit to the organisation with all gyms, pools and camping facilities forced to close, the Y is committed to supporting young people through the ongoing pandemic, creating innovative opportunities to have their voices heard and stay connected. 

“Despite our significantly reduced capacity, we are still here to support young people – our own and those young people in the communities we serve - we’re just doing it in different ways,” Ms Le Bron said.

“Today we launched our new Online Youth Leadership Project. It brings together 80 incredible young people to undertake online training and deliver their own events and initiatives for youth across the state. This will significantly increase the number of youth-led and youth-driven activities throughout NSW, during COVID-19 and provides young people with social connection, skills development for future employment and a sense of purpose in these challenging times.


“In Parramatta, Cooma and the Central Coast we’ve created local hotlines for vulnerable youth, and across the nation we’re providing free online workouts to keep our members and staff engaged and fit. 

“Physically, we’re still providing child care through our Outside School Hours and Vacation Care for emergency workers – keeping young people in jobs with more than 60 per cent of our incredible Children’s Services workforce under the age of 30.” 

Ms Le Bron welcomed the financial support the Government has already provided to enable the Y to continue to provide child care for essential workers, and JobKeeper which was allowing more young people to continue to be employed, but she said more support is needed to prevent significant long-term impacts for young people across the country.  

“This year we had to make the heart-breaking decision to cancel NSW Youth Parliament for the first time in 19 years. This is just one example of a program which is fundamental to youth voice and political engagement, yet sadly receives no Government funding, unlike other state Y’s. We are seeking to work with Government, businesses and the youth sector wherever possible to limit the impact of this crisis on the lives of our young people and make sure they can access the services they need at what we know will be one of the most difficult periods of their lives.”

MEDIA Y NSW | Madeleine Clarke | 0400 974 816

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