April 2023 Guest speaker, Frances Crimmins, CEO of Canberra YWCA

Vintage Reds were happy to welcome Frances Crimmins once again to speak to us. She has been the CEO of YWCA here since 2013.

Frances addressed the group on the increase in the numbers of older homeless women. The YWCA turns away many women, as they have no way of coping with the numbers experiencing homelessness. Many are victims of domestic violence and poverty, and like many other homeless people, are accommodated temporarily in the homes of relatives, couch surf with friends, sleep in their cars (some with children).

The YWCA has a strong advocacy role, are pushing for increases in social housing, and are working on lifting pay for the community sector after they had a freeze on funding.

Their focus is on the “missing middle housing.” Their Ainslie housing project will be completed in December. Frances noted that both the Commonwealth and ACT Governments plans for increased social housing are extremely inadequate and will not meet the demand. She also note that the Federal Government’s National Housing Plan will be released before the next election.

The meeting discussed issues affecting housing supply, the exorbitant cost of buying and renting housing.

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April 2019 Guest Speaker, Frances Crimmins

Our April speaker was Frances Crimmins, CEO of YWCA in Canberra, on “The role of social support“.

Frances is the former Chair of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Committee for Women, and former Board Director of No Sweat Fashion. In 2015, she received an Edna Ryan Award for advancing the status of women in the ACT. She also attended the Commission for the Status of Women in New York in 2017 and 2018.

Frances paid her respects to aboriginal elders and acknowledged that the land we met on always had been, and always would be, aboriginal land, having never been surrendered.

Her talk was on advocacy and how the Y tries to fill service gaps in the community. Last year they launched “advocacy priorities”. Their “Leading the change” campaign has four aims: gender responsive government; equality in the workplace; a life free from violence; and housing security. This year is the 70th anniversity of the YWCA. Their vision: “Girls and women thriving”.

The YWCA feels that the ACT should lead the way nationally in the well-being of women. The ACT’s Office for Women was originally part of Rosemary Follett’s office but now sits in the Community Services Directorate. It is underfunded, and there needs to be a women’s statement reinstated in the ACT budget.

Frances described the structural inequality that leads to older women’s over-representation in homelessness. This has been coming for years. The YWCA now works in housing as a “registered community housing provider”.

Shortly after her presentation to our meeting, Frances wrote a piece on this topic which is available online:

…For YWCA Canberra, addressing older women’s homelessness & housing crisis has been a longstanding policy priority. As a registered community housing provider, YWCA Canberra has been providing affordable housing & supportive tenancy services for women & families in Canberra for 60 years. And we are evolving our services to better meet the needs of this growing cohort. 

Rentwell is the first charitable property management service in the ACT to provide affordable rental accommodation to Canberrans on low incomes.  As a philanthropic model, Rentwell also provides those who own investment properties the opportunity to change someone’s life in a tangible way.  …

Frances Crimmins [photo credit: www.rentwell.com.au]