Including medicinal cannabis on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will be one of the key debates at this year’s Country Women’s Association (CWA) State Conference to be held in Bega.
The Cobargo branch will raise a motion at the conference asking for the CWA to campaign for the reform – just one of many issues to be debated during the meeting.
“The problem is that although cannabis can be obtained by prescription, it’s not available under the PBS and it’s exorbitantly expensive,” said Far South Coast Group secretary Lynn Lawson, who is based in Cobargo.
While some might know the CWA as lovers of crafts and cooking, in fact its members are at the forefront of creating change in the country.
This is the first time the State Conference will be held in Bega and will attract more than 400 delegates and observers from May 2 to 6.
As part of the conference, motions from branches across the state will be discussed which, according to Mrs Lawson, is an important part of the event.
“Everybody thinks it’s just about tea and scones, but the CWA is one of the biggest lobby groups in the country. It’s certainly the biggest women’s lobby group in the country,” she said.
“We’re one of the organisations which caters to women who just want to come and make friends, as well as some who want to do handicrafts or cooking, or people who actually want to make a difference – and everyone in between.”
She said the CWA is driven from the bottom up in the way that if a member believed something was important they could raise it with their branch and if passed as a motion, it would go to the conference then could become the organisation’s policy.
Far South Coast Group president and chair of the conference’s organising committee Helen Galton agreed about the importance of presenting motions, saying it was good to get input from everybody who attended and wished to speak.
“It’s a chance for us all to get together and have a really good discussion,” she said.
Ms Galton said the Far South Coast’s CWA members were “absolutely chuffed” they had the chance to bring visitors to the Bega Valley for the conference and to showcase the Sapphire Coast.
She said the conference will boost the region’s economy by attracting CWA members from across the state to the area.
“It’s also highlighting to all our wonderful community people the CWA is alive – we’re out and about and we can contribute to the Far South Coast,” she said.
“Everybody is excited.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most of the conference will not be open to the public but everyone can attend the CWA Country Market at the Bega Showgrounds on 2 May from 1-5 pm.
The market will also continue at lunch times from 3 to 5 May.
Stall holders include Mystery Bay Kelp, Johanna Weiss with her artwork on linen, Jody Vassallo with her cookbook Farmer and Brave-Bottomed Wombat children’s book, Three Fat Ladies with their delicious regional food, Eden Preserves, Tilba Real Dairy, Paul West with his cookbook and growing guide The Edible Garden, Za’s Coffee Van, Bega Girl Guides with their hand-made jewellery, plus loads more.
There will also be a ‘cow’ cake decorating competition on display plus local school sculptures of cows decorating the Bega Showground.
Everyone is also invited to visit the CWA State Land Cookery and CWA State Handicraft competition exhibitions.
You can see prize-winning cakes, biscuits, jams and preserves, while the handicraft exhibition includes the best of the best in needlework, knitting and crocheting and these displays are free to enter.
Land Cookery is on display at the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 31 Upper Street, Bega from 9 am to 5 pm on 4 to 5 May.
Handicraft is on display at the Uniting Church and Hall at 125 Gipps Street, Bega on 3 May from 11:30 am to 5 pm, and 4 to 5 May from 9 am to 5 pm.