The Country Women’s Association (CWA) this year marks 100 years as the backbone of rural Australia.
Piping hot tea and fresh scones with lashings of cream and jam have long been associated with the not-for-profit organisation, but there’s a lot more to its hard-working members than afternoon tea.
The first Branch of the CWA was established in Crookwell NSW in 1922 out of a desperate need to improve health facilities and address the loneliness experienced by women in rural and remote areas of the State.
The Riverina Group will celebrate its Centenary in 2027. Its oldest member is now in her 90s and the youngest, a teenager, represents three generations of CWA members from one family.
Branches raise funds through cake and handicraft stalls, occasional gala balls and involvement in major events in the area such as Henty Field Days and Wagga’s recent Stone the Crows Festival, designed for seniors.
CWA Riverina Group president Carol Grylls says it was their first time at Stone the Crows and attendees were generous.
“We have raised a substantial amount to help fund a student scholarship at Charles Sturt University that the Group has offered for many years,” she says.
“CWA of NSW has also helped victims of bushfires, floods and drought. We help wherever it is needed.”
“Donations have recently been made to assist the flood victims in the Northern Rivers region.”
Funds raised each year go towards a group project. The Wagga Carevan was last year’s group project and again this year due to COVID’s impact on fundraising opportunities.
CWA also has a political voice and regularly lobbies governments with education, telecommunications, health and safety issues.
The Group is hoping this year’s centenary events will spark an influx of new members to ensure the celebration of 200 years of CWA.
State vice president Ann Adams says connecting with the next generation is vital.
“Every woman should be a member; it is the best way towards improving services and conditions for women and children of the land,” she says.
“We still have a lot to work to do and women of all ages can join.”
Recently a commemorative park bench was installed at the Tourist Information Centre for people to rest and enjoy the surroundings. Ann says the inscription on the plaque sums it all up.
“‘Pride in our past, faith in our future’,” she says.
“CWA is about great friendships with women giving them support and creating a voice for them.”
The 16 branches of the Riverina Group of CWA are Cartwright’s Hill, Collingullie, Coolamon, Euberta, Galore, Ganmain, Henty, Henty Evening, Oura, Pleasant Hills, Tarcutta, The Rock, Uranquinty Evening, Wagga Wagga and Wagga Wagga Evening while Yathella/Coursing Park is currently in recess.