Our History

YWCA National Housing is a proudly feminist organisation, pushing and advocating for bold, systemic change to bring equality to women – just as we always have. For almost 140 years through our parent organisation YWCA Australia, we’ve been marching on the front line, mobilising communities and actively pushing for women leading positive change. 

Over the years, we’ve made significant progress – from our courageous founders to the important steps we continue to take today to improve the lives of women. We have a long and proud history of providing accommodation for women, and we are proud to continue this work as one of Australia’s largest affordable housing providers.


  • 1882 – YWCA Victoria formed and opened its first hostel for women in Melbourne
  • 1900 – Emergency accommodation provided to women from the opium dens in Melbourne
  • 1913 –YWCA purchases land and headquarters built on Russell Street, Melbourne
  • 1942-1945 – 6,700 service women housed in hostels made from converted Melbourne mansions
  • 1945 – Over 1,000 young women housed in 11 residential clubs and hostels, and thousands more in temporary accommodation
  • 1962 – YWCA supported 500 new Greek emigrants a month to Melbourne, primarily female migrants on the “bride ships” who chose not to go through a planned marriage. YWCA provided safe housing, language classes and access to work
  • 1969 – YWCA Darwin is formed to provide safe and affordable accommodation for young women travelling for work.
  • 1973 – YWCA opened Richmond House, housing 81 long-term residents in newly-designed cluster units
  • 1975 – Construction of the new YWCA headquarters and hotel on Elizabeth Street
  • 2009 – YWCA Victoria launches Social Housing Victoria, to manage its existing housing properties, support women and develop affordable housing solutions.
  • 2012 – upgraded Richmond House, built 6 units in Geelong
  • 2015 – Social Housing Victoria changes to YWCA Housing
  • 2017 – head leasing program begins, leasing private rentals for women and subsidising their rent
  • 2018 – YWCAs across Australia merge and form YWCA Australia and YWCA National Housing
  • 2018 – innovative ‘pop-up’ housing model Lakehouse is opened
  • 2019 – new ‘built to rent’ housing model begins construction in Bendigo