Diversity, Charity…….Change

ACWW South Pacific Area banner

ACWW South Pacific Area banner

In the December 1997 edition of The Country Woman Jenny Mitchell OAM wrote to members, as the South Pacific Area President of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), about her visit to the South Pacific Community Education Training Centre (CETC) in Suva where she met Gertrude Andrias from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Gertrude was sponsored by CWA of NSW to attend the training centre for ten months and left her two children aged 6 years and 18 months with her husband who had given up his job to attend to that important task, so she could learn new skills in nutrition and cooking, health, literacy etc.

Seventeen years on and just over two weeks ago, I met Gertrude in Dubbo NSW, at the 16th South Pacific Area Conference – ACWW, where she was one of three delegates representing CWA of PNG and is a member of Jiwaka Branch in the highlands just east of Mt. Hagen. The Branch was opened in 2001 (by Jenny) and currently has more than 200 members. In all there were 13 delegates from Tonga, Fiji and PNG, representing the South Pacific Islands as well as delegates from New Zealand and every Australian state and territory. CWA of NSW sponsored workshops for the island members prior to the conference as well as accommodation needs.

During the week Gertrude gave a presentation highlighting some of the projects and activities she has instigated, assisted with or encouraged participation in, since 1997;

  • Established 3 more CWA branches
  • Led a delegation of 37 women to a National Development Bank Women In Business Summit in 2012 – training, encouraging and empowering 200 women who now own and run small to medium businesses in Jiwaka Province
  • HIV Aids training – home base care (funded by ACWW)
  • Technical and Business Studies Skills training for school leavers – since 2002 more than 2000 school leavers are now working
  • Drug awareness programs that have resulted in the destruction of marijuana crops by local young people
  • Community development projects like rice farming (initiated by CWA members) with technical advice and training provided by an agricultural college
  • Encouraging change of long held tribal beliefs and mindsets by working with rural women
  • Instigating a Community Development Course which will provide residential and online training, similar to that of the CETC in Fiji. The facility will be ready for its first course to be conducted in 2015 and will include courses as diverse as Human Rights (Gender and Development), Social Values and Ethics and HIV/Aids to Home Economics, Food Technology and Nutrition, Entrepreneur Skills and Basic Accounting.

CWA of NSW has, for 50 years, sponsored two women annually to the CETC in Suva. In 2015, when the Community Development Course commences in Jiwaka Province, more than 5 women could potentially be sponsored each year, to do the same training in PNG.

Last year Gertrude was awarded the Golden Champion by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Education, Training and Human Development Division. Gertrude’s absolute pride and sheer joy at winning this award were evident on her beaming face and those emotions were returned by over 75 CWA of NSW members when she credited her success to our sponsorship in 1997.


Be Aware … VERY Aware!

The members of CWA of NSW are, as I write, celebrating our annual Awareness Week with activities designed to increase your knowledge of the diverse range of deeds we apply our collective efforts to addressing and how we go about achieving results for our communities.

This year we are concentrating our efforts on two issues:

  • To raise awareness of the existence of Lyme disease in Australia and advocate for more research, have it recognised as a legitimate medical condition by government and the medical fraternity and that more definitive diagnostic testing and treatment be made available in Australia as soon as possible
  • To promote our support for and involvement with the WorkCover Alive and Well Campaign.

Lyme disease (borreliosis) is an infection caused by bacteria that infects humans from the bite of ticks that are infected with the bacteria. Because the disease is not recognised as being present in Australia it is often misdiagnosed as other serious conditions like Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.

The more I read about this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease the more convinced I am that CWA of NSW has made the right decision to support sufferers of the disease, many of whom have written to express not only their gratitude but also their frustration at a system that continues to fail them.

If you would like to read a little more or even offer support then have a look at Lyme Disease Association of Australia http://www.lymedisease.org.au/ and the Karl McManus Foundation  http://www.karlmcmanusfoundation.org.au/


This year we are also raising awareness of the health and safety risks associated with working and living on a farm and have partnered with WorkCover NSW to support and promote their Alive and Well Campaign.

Country women spend a lot of time thinking, worrying and voicing their concerns about safety and many of us have been touched by safety incidents on our farms. For many of our members, farms are not only workplaces, they are our homes and children’s adventure lands.

Unfortunately, country people are sometimes averse to being given advice by those who do not work in the industry, so we are excited about the new approach being taken by WorkCover NSW to address safety on farms.

This campaign focuses on farmers (real farmers!) telling their stories about actual incidents on their properties that could have been avoided. The website http://www.aliveandwell.net.au also provides the opportunity for others to contribute their tales as well as advice and support and we hope that hearing from their peers will encourage our farmers to take their safety and their future, more seriously.

If anyone can tell a good story it’s a country woman and one of our State Vice Presidents, Annette Turner, will feature in media this week telling her story about some close calls on farm and when you live near White Cliffs (Google map it!) assistance is a long way off!

I encourage all women on the land to get behind the Alive and Well campaign by sharing their stories and encouraging their partners, husbands and children to do the same.

With over 10,000 active members across NSW, CWA of NSW will continue to raise awareness and drive change around issues important to our communities across the state.

Alive and Well

CWA of NSW President, Tanya Cameron, was part of the regional launch of the Alive and Well campaign at Agquip (middle) with Peter Dunphy, WorkCover NSW; Fiona Simpson, President NSW Farmers; Mark Walters, Tamworth farmer who features in the campaign; and Kevin Anderson MP, Member for Tamworth

Médecins Sans Frontières

The CWA of NSW has had a long association with Médecins Sans Frontières and we recently received the following letter thanking us for our on-going support and giving us a glimpse of how our donations have been put to use. This is one of the diverse causes that CWA of NSW is happy to be able to support.

If you would like to find out more about Médecins Sans Frontières you can view their website: http://www.msf.org.au

Aweil, maternal and child health care

Médecins Sans Frontières is an independent, international medical humanitarian organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to victims of armed conflict, epidemics or natural disasters, and to populations that have little or no access to health care – regardless of race, religion or gender.

Founded over 40 years ago, Médecins Sans Frontières currently has 25,000 national and international staff, including over 150 Australian and New Zealanders a year, working in challenging situations in over 60 countries. The teams are composed of specialists such as doctors, nurses, anaesthetists, logisticians and laboratory technicians.

We respond to the needs of people affected by conflict, floods and drought, run emergency feeding programs during nutritional crises, organise mass vaccination programs to prevent epidemics spreading, and tackle neglected diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, measles and tuberculosis.

None of this would be possible without the incredible support that we receive from our donors and we are so grateful to the Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) who is one of our major contributors. Since 2008 CWA has donated approximately $140,000 to help people affected by conflict and disease, the latest donation being $55,000 in November 2013.

Recently your funds have been used in a number of key areas around the worlds and I would like to share the following with you from the field.

Our teams continue to work on both sides of the Iraqi border, responding to the urgent health needs of the people who have fled the violence. Médecins Sans Frontières is currently running mobile clinics and setting up health facilities in transit camps, as well as in camps for internally displaced people.

While we are able to respond to these immediate crises, our many other programs continue. In addition to our work in places such as Iraq and West Africa, we recently received news from our colleagues in South Sudan which I would like to share with you.

Following the recent cholera outbreak in Eastern Equatoria State in South Sudan, we are happy to be able to report that numbers of admissions to our clinics are falling. This particular project alone has treated almost 1,400 people and since April this year Médecins Sans Frontières has overall treated almost half of the 5,561 cases of cholera reported countrywide.

I also would like to take this opportunity to share with you the news of our recent international launch of the multimedia documentary, “The Reach of War” which aims to bring the attention back to the conflict in Syria. The documentary feature explores a single day in the life of the ongoing conflict through the perspective of medical workers, patients and refugees. You can view this at: http://issuu.com/msf_picturedesk/docs/thereachofwar

It is thanks to your generous support that our field workers can continue providing medical assistance to many people in the world who would otherwise go without. For this we are truly grateful to you. On behalf of our teams on the ground and our patients, thank you so much for your support.

Ruth Molloy
Major Gifts Manager