Board President's Report

Colin Thompson

Board President

It’s my pleasure to officially welcome you to Y Ballarat’s 2021/2022 Community Impact Report.

It is often said that change is the only true constant in life, and every year as we reflect on the previous 12 months, that statement seems to hold a lot of truth. Change can sometimes be an intimidating word. It can be sudden, or it can creep up on us slowly, but change can be transformative. It can be healing and uplifting, nurturing and empowering.

Over the past year we have lived through some of the most challenging periods of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, yet we have adapted, we have changed. And now that we shift into yet another phase of living with this global event, our past adaptations and changes have set us up for success. As a leader in Early Years Education and Care, Outside School Hours Care and our ongoing programs with youth and communities we feel well placed to head into this new phase.

The needs of young people have also continued to evolve through the landscape of the pandemic and beyond. With forward-thinking programs such as our Youth Advisory Group and Youth Parliament teams we continue to progress through those changes with real, empowered voices to deliver solutions that help shape the brightest futures possible for young people.

In December 2021, we said goodbye to Brooke LeSueur, CEO of Y Ballarat since 2018 and of Y Grampians since 2007. We once again thank Brooke for her commitment and dedication over her 14 years with the Y and wish her all the best for the future. In July 2022, we officially welcomed former COO, Craig Mathieson to the CEO position. We look forward to seeing the continued evolution of the Y under Craig’s careful management and for the vision and leadership he has demonstrated in his journey with the Y to date to amplify into his role as CEO.

Movements on the Board included the retirement of Dan Anderson after 5 years on the Ballarat Board and of John Stewart. John served on the Grampians Board as both a director and as President before joining the Y Ballarat as part of the Grampians merge in 2018. We thank them both for their time and contributions and wish them well for their future endeavours. To replenish the Board, we welcomed Stacey Oliver from the Ballarat Foundation, a previous long term staff member with a passion for the Y and Anne Battilana from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank who we are grateful to have in the role of Treasurer.

In my final term as President, I want to thank my fellow volunteer board members, for their dedication and strength over the past year and their support over the past three years. 

I extend my most sincere gratitude to every staff member and volunteer across all levels of the organisation. Your positive and passionate voices enable us to achieve demonstrated and powerful impact in communities. Your adaptability and strength throughout the pandemic have been unrivalled and has undoubtedly contributed to giving our Y the confidence required to continue to strengthen our focus on program growth and financial sustainability, and to never waver in our commitment to empowering young people. 

Congratulations and thank you.

CEO Report

Craig Mathieson


I am delighted to have been officially appointed by the Board as CEO of the Y Ballarat, in July after a period as Acting CEO from December 2021 to June 2022. I’d like to thank the Board for placing their trust in me to lead the organisation into a new phase and for their continued support throughout the past 12 months. I’d also like to thank and commend my predecessor, Brooke LeSueur. After a dedicated 14 years with the Y her departure closes a significant chapter and leaves the organisation in a great position to move forward into the next.

This new chapter commenced with the development of a new Strategic plan for the organisation; a plan designed to take us forward as we emerge from the pandemic and ensure we are best placed to deliver our programs and services for communities now and into the future. The strategic plan “Towards Vision 2030” aligns with the YMCA World Council key ribbon areas of community wellbeing, meaningful work, sustainable planet and a just world, areas that we at Y Ballarat are passionate on delivering localised impact towards.

I was fortunate to attend the World Y Conference in Aarhus Denmark with 3 other delegates from Y Ballarat. The week-long conference which happens every 4 years is an amazing opportunity to connect, network and share with Y associations across the globe. The 2022 conference included the adoption of the Vision2030 global strategy. A strategy co-created with over 120 Y movements over the previous 3 years.

The Y Ballarat continued to move out of the recreation contract management space in both Ballarat and Portland, handing over the reins at the Portland Aquatic Centre to Belgravia Leisure at the end of the contracted term. Doug Dean Stadium in Ballarat was returned to the City of Ballarat. This strategic decision allows the organisation to focus its resources on the continued demands and service delivery of our Youth, Community Impact and Children’s services business areas as they continue to evolve and grow into the future. One of the exciting evolutions in this space is Y Learn and Swim. Launching in 2023, Y Learn and swim will combine an early learning centre with a swim school in one exciting and innovative location.

Preparations are well underway to respond to the Victorian Government’s recently announced kindergarten reform. The Y welcomes the announcements that include the implementation of free kindergarten for 3 and 4-year-old children from 2023 and for 4-year-old kinder to transition to 30 hours of delivery by 2032. These significant changes will ensure that all children are able to access quality kindergarten education, and for longer before entering their primary school education journey – we know as a leading Early Years provider that we are well placed to deliver on this reform and continue to provide leading early years education to our communities.

Finally, I would like to recognise all the Y Ballarat staff teams who have shown unwavering dedication and resilience through what has been an unprecedented time, as we now head into a third year of a pandemic. Your passion and ability to continue to provide safe and fun environments for our children and young people has been a true inspiration and a valuable asset to our families and communities. Thank you