Leaving the city behind

Find connection and freedom working regionally

Want to make an impact in a regional community? At the Y, we believe young families need high-quality early learning no matter their postcode. That’s why so many of our team live regionally, supporting children to learn and grow. Below, three of our team members share what they love most about working in their own special slice of Victoria.
A lifestyle that draws you in

We think you’ll find plenty of good things when you join the Y’s regional team. Sometimes, the very place you live in is a big part of the appeal. That’s certainly the case for the Y’s Early Learning Trainee, Emma McNamara.

Emma’s home is the tiny southern coastal town of Mallacoota, famous for its national parks, pristine waters and wild-caught abalone. Emma’s helping raise the next generation, at Mallacoota Preschool, rather than heading for the city like many of her peers. And we can well understand why!

““People often grow up and move away from Mallacoota, but then they come back. It’s a hard place to leave! Everyone knows everyone here and looks out for each other; it’s very community-based. The things I love most are the fresh air and freedom.”

Take a drive 1,000km northwest of Mallacoota, and you’ll find the picturesque farming community of Robinvale. Nestled on the banks of the Murray River, it’s home to Paula O’Bryan, Educator at Robinvale Preschool. Paula grew up in the Robinvale community before moving away. But she was drawn back by the appeal of the outdoors rural lifestyle.

““We’ve got cattle and cereal crops on our property, and our family does lots of things together: motorbike riding, camping and fishing and outdoor sporty stuff. I’m a trainer with the local footy club, too. We’re busy people, and that’s the way we like to be!”
A vital role for and with the community

For some regional communities, the Y is the only organisation on hand to provide care and education for young lives. Playing such a vital role in these communities means a lot to our team, and it means a lot to the communities, too.

Just ask Ben Leersen, Area Director for the Mildura region. Ben has lived in the inland western rural city his whole life. He oversees kindergartens in Mildura and several smaller neighbouring towns, including the tiny farming community of Nangiloc, southeast of Mildura. Ben’s passion for the communities he works in is obvious – that’s why he’s so motivated to keep kinders like Nangiloc’s Bush Kinder open and staffed. And the community has responded in kind.

““We’ve got so many community members involved with the bush kinder at Nangiloc; they help keep it maintained. It’s wonderful. One local even painted a beautiful Australian wildlife mural across the water tank. It looks gorgeous. And it’s all down to the local community wanting to help and be part of the service.”

Ben wouldn’t have it any other way. For him, it proves the Y’s important role in supporting communities.

““I love my job. I get to see new ideas, new inventive strategies, and new ways to involve the community, which is fantastic.”
A special connection

Our teams build connections with the children in their care at every Y preschool. But there’s something extra special about the connections you can make in small communities like Mallacoota.

When Emma joined the Y in 2023, she found herself working alongside the same kindergarten teacher who taught her when she was a whipper snapper.

““That was pretty cool; my teacher was just really excited to know I was joining.”

And Emma knew many of the kids she now cares for before she started working at the preschool.

“We already had that connection when they came here because I knew their parents.”

What’s more, living in such a small town means Emma knows she’ll be able to see how the children she’s taught progress for years to come. By working with Mallacoota’s most precious resource, Emma is playing a vital role in the very future of the place she calls home, and that’s a great feeling.

““It feels very rewarding. Even just from the start of the year to now, I’ve seen how much the kids are growing up and how much they’re learning. It’s really nice watching it all happen. Seeing those changes in the children inspires me to want to do more.”

Leading by example
Setting the standard and celebrating diversity at the Y.

Read More

Finding Balance
The Y’s commitment to a flexible and adaptive workplace.

Read More

Playing a vital role in little lives
What it feels like to make a lasting impact at the Y.

Read More

The Y acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and future.

View our full Commitment Statements here .

© Copyright YMCA 2022. All Rights Reserved.