Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) announces with both sadness and gratitude the resignation of Katherine Ellis from the position of Chief Executive Officer, to take up an opportunity elsewhere.
Katherine has led YACVic through four years characterised by disasters, including COVID, bushfires and floods. Thanks to her consistency and courage, the organisation has seen great growth and progress even in the face of these uncertainties, and strong advocacy with and for young people on a wide variety of issues.
“It has been a challenging and wonderful time at YACVic, and it’s a very hard decision to move on. YACVic has an amazing team and Board, and is part of an incredible sector, all of whom are passionate about young people’s rights, inclusion and ability to contribute,” says Katherine.
“I wish young people, the youth sector and YACVic all the best in the continued fight for recognition of the value they all provide to the Victorian community and economy.”
Throughout the pandemic, Katherine galvanised the youth sector and modelled one of her favourite sayings, ‘never waste a crisis’. She delivered regular Leaders Huddles and the ambitious online Reshape Our Future conference, providing welcome connection and innovation to sector workers in a challenging time. She also secured $6.8 million for eight partners under the Working for Victoria Coalition, ensuring continuity of services and work opportunities for young people and youth workers during the pandemic.
Through ongoing tight budget cycles, Katherine has ensured young people stay on the government’s agenda. She led the successful advocacy for creation of a Victorian Youth Strategy, and conceived and commissioned a Victorian first-of-its-kind Return on Investment study, demonstrating that every $1 invested in youth work programs returns a benefit of at least $2.62.
Under Katherine’s leadership, YACVic has become a recognised leader in securing young people’s role in disaster readiness, response and recovery. Following bold strides with the Youth Focused Disaster Recovery Protocol, the Activators’ program, and disaster research contributions, YACVic secured almost $10 million for the collective action Future Proof bushfire recovery project, and $800K for flood recovery, actively moving the dial on youth-led disaster resilience.
Katherine has also worked successfully to raise the profile of youth participation, particularly for young people who face marginalisation and discrimination. She has championed meaningful work and development opportunities for young people, not only within YACVic, but across other organisations and government projects. This has also enabled YACVic to build a strong social enterprise, staffed by young peer facilitators, to provide training and support in this important area.
Through all of this, Katherine has also been a strong and attentive mentor to YACVic agency the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS), and previous auspice partner the Koorie Youth Council (KYC), on their pathways to independence.
“YDAS and KYC do outstanding work with and for disabled young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people respectively; they are youth sector leaders in their own right. It has been a privilege to support their growth and self-determination,” says Katherine.
“The Board and I want to thank Katherine for her leadership and passion during her time at YACVic,” says YACVic Board Chair Alexandra Neill. “She has guided the organisation through many challenges and always ensured that YACVic has come through stronger.”
Katherine’s last day with YACVic will be Friday 21 July. YACVic Corporate Services Manager Kirsty Greenwood and YACVic Rural Manager Derm Ryan will act as co-CEOs in the interim to manage a smooth transition until a permanent CEO is appointed. The recruitment process is already underway, and the position will be advertised in due course.
The staff and Board of YACVic are deeply grateful to Katherine for her remarkable contributions to our organisation, the youth sector and young people, and warmly wish her well for her next chapter.
Media contact: Katia Pellicciotta (she/her), YACVic Media and Communications Coordinator 0498 730 553 or KPellicciotta@YACVic.org.au.
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading policy advocate for young people aged 12-25 and the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.