If These Walls Could Talk

 Potts Point 1957

CWA building, Potts Point, 1957

Life is full of coincidences and I have written before about those that existed between the purchase and eventual sale, of our Potts Point property. The same has held true for this tale.

The last State Executive Meeting is being held in the Auditorium at Potts Point this week, hence the late blog, so I thought I would delve into the archives to find when the auditorium hosted its first meeting of this committee and what was discussed within its walls, compared to now.

The new Administrative Block and Handicraft Headquarters were opened on 4th May 1957 by the Governor of the day, Sir John Northcott. The story in the June edition of The Country Woman was titled “The Nerve Centre of CWA” and the State President, Joan Lander, commented that whilst “the heart of the Association is in the country, the nerve centre will be in our new Head Office building.”
The first Executive meeting commenced on 18th June 1957 and one of the agenda items was a letter from Inverell Branch regarding passes for blind people so that their “seeing eye dogs” may accompany them when travelling on trains. The Executive of the day resolved to support this suggestion for “all methods of transport”. A further request went to the Minister for Health regarding the appointment of part-time nurses for baby health centres in the country following complaints about lack of staff in many areas.

The committee carried a further resolution recommending “that wherever possible a series of six lectures in home nursing and ….first aid be instituted with practical demonstrations to be undertaken by our Branch Members”. The following paragraph to this motion says there “was general discussion on the matter” and “… after considerable discussion” support should be given to first aid being taught in schools.

Fast forward fifty eight years where our Joint Patrons, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Linda Hurley were invited to attend afternoon tea with the members of the Executive Committee. Unfortunately a last minute change to plans prevented the Governor from attending but we had a delightful forty five (informal) minutes with Mrs Hurley.

The decisions we have made this week continue to reflect our determination to address issues that affect our communities and whilst we no longer actively participate in “front-line” provision of services, we can fund those who do. The Committee agreed to partner with several like-minded organisations to support programs aimed at reducing drug and alcohol addiction, training for rural professionals dealing with victims of domestic violence and a study investigating the role of hormones in adolescent health, behaviour and wellbeing.

Whilst we may be moving “the nerve centre” our focus and our ability to adapt to the changing needs of our society will continue so that the President of CWA of NSW in 2073 can hopefully relate a similar tale in whatever form of communication exists then.

Tanya Cameron & Mrs Hurley

Tanya Cameron & Mrs Hurley

Ahead of Our Time and Not a Scone in Sight

My last blog caused a bit of a storm in the proverbial teacup over a lack of meaningful support for drought affected communities from a State Government spruiking a surplus, and resulted in a few comments about whinging CWA women.

I decided those comments warranted some response in regard to how far a good whinge can sometimes take you, after all doesn’t “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”?

I thought I might take a trip down memory lane and see just how much our whinging had achieved over the years for women, children and communities across NSW over our 93 year history. What I found in our accessible data amazed even me!

1960       “That in view of the high drowning rate, especially young children in lagoons etc. could not more be done to educate the public in the latest methods of resuscitation.

1976       “That manufacturers of food stuffs be required to print on the labels of containers the specific ingredients used in the preparation of the contents”.

1977       “That persons who wish to donate organs for transplant carry some means of indicating this, and that the Department of Health be urged to investigate the most suitable means by which intending donors be identified”.

1977       “That the Association press (the Government) for the establishment of Mobile Cancer Detection Units to regularly visit, at least every two years, those areas of the state of NSW where the facilities of Permanent Cancer Centres or Clinics are not easily available to all residents, and to actively encourage young Radiologists to undertake specialist training to become experts in all types of cancer”.

1978       “That CWA of NSW urge the Department of Health to prohibit smoking in public eating houses”.

1980       “That the CWA urge the NSW Government to introduce random breath tests and reduce the blood alcohol limit to 0.05%, and commend the Government on the Amendment to the Motor Traffic act which now means that there is an automatic suspension of licence for three months upon the first conviction for a drink driving offence”.

1981       “That CWA of NSW request the Minister for Communications to initiate closed captioning on all television stations for the benefit of all deaf and partially hearing persons”.

1983       “That CWA of NSW request the Minister for Health to introduce compulsory labelling of packaged foods showing type, quantity and percentage of all ingredients”.

1983       “That in view of the worsening power situation the CWA of NSW ask the Government to encourage solar heating of water in all homes and business premises”.

1988       “That CWA of NSW request the Minister for Transport and police to strictly enforce the speed limit on heavy vehicles, including coaches.”

1990       “That CWA of NSW ask the State and Federal Ministers of Health to make provision for all women over 40 to have a free mammogram every year for the early detection of breast cancer.”

1994       “That CWA of NSW request the State and Federal Ministers for Health to make disposable syringes free to diabetics.”

1995       “That CWA of NSW support the concept of the inland railway system extending from Brisbane to Melbourne via inland NSW.”

2002       “That the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales request the State and Federal Ministers for Energy to urgently require petroleum fuels sold in Australia, to have a 10% to 20% Australian ethanol content to help reduce greenhouse gases.”

2006       “That the CWA of NSW approach the Federal Minister for Primary Industries and Agriculture, and request that all imported fresh food items be subject to stricter quarantine testing.”

2012       “That the policy of the CWA of NSW shall be that the NSW Minister for Primary Industries has Mimosa Bush (Vechillia farnesiana) removed as a native from the Native Vegetation Act and declared a noxious weed”.

2013       “That the policy of the CWA of NSW shall be to urge all levels of Government to co-operate to build new dams within NSW to store water.”


Thanks for Nothing

The NSW Budget was handed down yesterday amid the usual feather-fluffing and chest beating, but what did it actually deliver to farmers entering their fourth year of no income?

According to Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair, $162 million will be invested to deliver quality services to the State’s farmers, landholders and communities through the mythical Local Land Services. Apparently they help communities respond to emergencies like flood, fire and drought. I guess they’re out there somewhere, doing something…

The budget supposedly also provides $63 million in drought assistance funding under the five year NSW Drought Strategy but this includes $50 million for the Farm Innovation Fund. Fantastic initiative for when seasons improve that also increases the value of the farm (a bonus if you want to sell) but it also increases debt levels and there is no point in having a big hay shed or silo if there is nothing to store in it.

w1200_h678_fmax (2)Thirteen of the 63 million is then presumably left to teach us how to be resilient and better prepared; something I find interesting. How does a ‘fly-by-nighter’ teach resilience to a farmer who survived the millennium drought and is now into their fourth year of no income in this drought? All nice warm, fuzzy-feeling and apparently future-proofing stuff, but what’s it providing to help those in dire straits right now?

The NSW Government no longer sees the need for a Ministerial portfolio dedicated to Western NSW which is reflected in the budget overview that indicates Western NSW covers the areas of Wagga Wagga, Parkes, Forbes, Dubbo and Tamworth. Cooee to those at Wanaaring, Wilcannia and Pooncarie; CWA of NSW still knows you’re out there.

On the Budget website there is a menu item called Mapping the Budget which (if your internet connection is good enough and the site is ‘responding’) has colourful little icons representing different projects and a map of NSW to show where those projects are to occur. In what I would call Western NSW there are about 10 of 697 identified projects.

Two of these projects are in Walgett with one being an upgrade to the Walgett Community College High School at an estimated total cost of $7,641,000 of which $4,769,000 is committed for this financial year. Fixing the building; great idea! Will it fix the problems within the school? I think not.

Also included in this big spend budget is more than $64 million in 2015-16 to build or refurbish police stations in various areas of the state, including Walgett. Digging a little deeper I found that the estimated cost for the Walgett Police Station is $16,069,000 and this year’s commitment is $3,474,000. When I was in Walgett on Saturday the new building appeared to be almost complete. I guess ‘build’ is just summarizing the detail; media commentators might ask if the money already spent is included in this budget?


Tucked away in a press release from the Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW I found that $2.2 million is to be spent on the Walgett water supply bore – fantastic if anyone is left to use it. Small businesses in drought affected communities are also buckling under the pressure but I could find nothing for them in the press releases from the Minister for Small Business, except a plethora of references to ‘regional’ NSW. Nothing about rural or remote; hi to all in Tilpa, Tibooburra and Tabbita, will do our best to let ‘them’ know there are still people inhabiting western New South Wales.

I haven’t mentioned Lightning Ridge, but then neither does the budget.

I recently heard Bob Katter talk about “the tyranny of the majority”, so I Googled …according to Wikipedia and many other sites it “involves the scenario in which decisions made by a majority place its interests above those of an individual or minority group …”

Just sayin’ …