The Golden Thread

The State Executive Committee held their quarterly meeting last week, the first at our new State Office in Mascot.

The week was not all business though and Tuesday evening saw us hosting the Official Opening of 244 Coward Street, which was graciously performed by our joint Patrons, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Linda Hurley.

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In my welcome address I gave a brief overview of the history of the task set by members to bring us to this point, as well as providing a brief summary of three projects we are supporting this year.

The journey had been a long and at times uncertain one since 2007 and it has taken until now for the Executive Committee to have the confidence to again substantially invest in and support projects that will directly benefit our communities.

Those projects are:

  1. The Salvation Army alcohol and other drugs (AOD) pilot program which will provide a weekly service to key geographical locations in north west NSW and offer assessment, intervention and education support services to people who are experiencing problems related to their own or another’s AOD use, including families and carers. The pilot will run for two years and is scheduled to commence in the very near future.
  1. A partnership with Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA) which will see R&DVSA run training sessions in rural and remote areas for those who, in the course of their day, may be asked to assist a victim of sexual assault or family violence. The forums will be rolled out to rural and regional areas in the coming months with the first one being held in Forbes on 1st
  1. Last, but not least, the construction and fit-out of a complete pod, consisting of 14 rooms, at Macquarie Homestay in Dubbo, which will be a patient and family accommodation facility for those who need to use the services of Dubbo Hospital and will benefit people from over one third of the state.

Almost three quarters of a million dollars will be injected into these programs to assist rural, remote and regional communities across NSW.

I also took the opportunity to relate a tale, the substance of which was confirmed by two of our guests a little earlier in the evening and was in regard to the colour of the new Mascot premises during dusk, from the corner of Bourke St and Church Avenue. When viewed from this vantage point, as the sun is setting, the building takes on a beautiful golden hue.

This story must have struck a chord with His Excellency because he elected to not read his prepared speech, instead preferring to elaborate on his thoughts that the colour of the building reflects the ethos of the Association and his belief that the members of CWA are the gold thread that binds communities together. The Governor spoke unreservedly about his and Mrs Hurley’s interaction to date with members of our organisation and was particularly generous in his praise for the work we do to ensure the Aims of CWA are fulfilled and commented that the three initiatives mentioned were perfect examples of that effort.

The whole evening seemed to have a very happy “vibe” to it which hopefully means; not only are we good hosts, but that positive Karma exists within the walls from the mix of history, function and current trends.

Special thanks to Jackie and Donna for their event organising skills. Perhaps a job for you Donna, in retirement …?

On a seemingly unrelated matter, but one that has some relevance to the closing comments in my address, I have just had a conversation with a Telstra employee and when asked if I was happy with the service provided I could not resist the temptation of the opportunity provided to pass comment about our access (or lack of it in the bush) to comparable products, especially in regard to internet services. My final remarks on Tuesday night were about my response to journalists who often query whether CWA is still relevant in today’s world. My reply is usually along the lines of, “whilst ever there are inequities in the provision of services in rural NSW, then there is still a place for CWA”.

Would you agree?

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Ruth Shanks, Dorothy Coombe, Linda Hurley with Tanya


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

More Than Tea and Scones – We Bake Cakes Too!


I am honoured to say, as a woman in her 70’s, that I am the daughter of a very active CWA member who worked for many causes and charities in the Far West,   More than that though….I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a friend AND I am a member of the CWA.  I like to think I am a “today” woman, kept up to date by my children, grandchildren and the wonders of the internet.

I joined the CWA of NSW in 2001 to meet new friends and join the handicraft group, hoping to improve my needlework and patchwork skills.

We are very fortunate to have four CWA branches in the ACT, all offering different things.  Prospective members can join a branch that best suits their interests. Younger members join a branch that appeals to them.  More senior members wishing to join may be drawn to the knitting, crochet, embroidery, baking, other crafts and competitions.

At Canberra Branch we are a city branch surrounded by office blocks, not very “country” at all!  We have a membership of close to 150.  The retention of these members is vital in keeping our CWA active.

Through CWA I have made many wonderful friends at Branch, Group and State level.  I have been given many opportunities that only CWA offers.  The chance to improve my baking skills, to compete at Branch level, being eligible to enter Group competitions and having entries at State level have been rewarding experiences. I have also learned a lot through the positions I was encouraged to take on within CWA including President, Vice President, Secretary, Cultural Officer and best of all Cookery Officer.

The CWA has also given me the chance to sit for and receive my judges’ badge, a wonderful opportunity!  I also received the inaugural Donna Latter prize awarded for my citation at that time.  Being involved at an official level on the State Land Cookery committee continues to be a great experience.  All members of this committee have different gifts, come from different Groups but are all happy to be associated with the CWA proud tradition of tea, scones and friendship_ but we are a lot more- we bake cakes too!  LOL

I often speak of the term “keepers”.  I like to think I am a “keeper”. It is a term I use when I turn out a really great cake for competition. It is one really worth keeping. So are the hard working members I work with!  We need more of these workers, those that join, attend meetings, help in the decision making of the Branch and have a desire to make our Association stronger.  The retention of these members is important in nurturing the younger members we hope to welcome.

While CWA is not mostly about tea and scones, the many morning teas provide the perfect base to achieve greater things.  For me, the CWA has created opportunities, encouraged new friendships and given me the chance to make a difference – now that’s quite a chance!

Why not encourage your friends to join?

In her 70’s, Barbara is young at heart. Despite her advancing age Barbara thinks of herself as a ‘woman of today’. With her email (vintagebarb) and her own facebook page, Barbara shops and banks online, and messages up a storm. Based in Canberra, Barbara is a teacher by training and classifies herself as a “home baker” – so you can imagine her surprise when she won her first CWA baking competition. One of her biggest pleasures in 2013 was walking in the Mother’s Day Classic Breast Cancer walk supported by her husband, her daughters and her three granddaughters.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Fun fact – To help celebrate Canberra’s centenary, Barbara and two other CWA ladies baked 1,000 scones in one day – using only one oven.