Life Goes On

The original Show Kiosk at the Royal Easter Show in 1948

The original Show Kiosk at the Royal Easter Show in 1948

Another interesting and busy week has passed and I hope you enjoyed Annie’s account of her busy life, which would have provided you with more detail on the diversity of the Country Women’s Association of NSW; diverse in activities, representation, membership and geography. The value of the work our members do, both country and city, should not be underestimated, so thank you Annie for sharing your contribution.

Part of my week has been spent speaking to media about the proposed sale of Potts Point which seems to have created a little flurry of interest from members of the public who for some reason think it’s our virgin voyage into buying and selling real estate in Sydney or that the organisation is contemplating retirement. I can assure everyone that the “normal” work of our Association will and is, continuing unabated and at an increasing pace in the lead up to our Annual Conference in May, where the decision will be debated and decided by the delegates present.

DSC_2397As many hands as possible are again on deck in our Tea Rooms at the Royal Easter Show to help raise funds to support the various activities of the Association, without the efforts of hundreds of these deckhands from all over NSW, be it volunteering on site or providing produce for sale, this 67 year tradition would not set sail. And whilst I’m hesitant to put the word scone into a sentence with tea, in a blog space where I keep reminding you that CWA is more than those two things put together, I need to tell you that last year our seriously super scone score topped 40,601 over the 14 days and made an impressive financial contribution to further the work we do. By the end of day 5 this year 14,380 of the delectable little delights had been delivered as per Devonshire requirements, so don’t forget to detour on your day trip for a little downtime and dig in!

The members of the various committees are all at full steam gathering and preparing to display items creatively crafted, beautifully baked, rigorously researched or painstakingly painted by members for the various exhibitions at the Conference to be held in Griffith.

Members of the choir will be warming their vocal chords and practising their pitch, while the organising committee would be just about to the panic stage wondering if everything will come together on time and without incident; I predict local wine sales may well rise in anticipation of, or possibly to avert, the downward shift of THE red button.

At Head Office staff are busily printing programmes, packing boxes, engraving trophies, finalising arrangements with guest speakers, preparing running sheets and checking the laces on their running shoes.

In between honing my media skills I am dealing with the business of a 10,000 member organisation, writing blogs, letters or reports, meeting with whoever is in the diary for the day or fielding questions from Marc, son and family bookkeeper. That’s when I’m not out meeting the members, plucking energy drinks from the hands of unsuspecting children or watering the plants and catching up on the washing and what’s been happening at home.

Life here goes on.

What’s happening in your day?

A Place For You

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Diversity…something that’s lacking, somewhat, in the front benches of Federal Parliament at present and yes, a pretty cheeky comment coming from the President of the Country Women’s Association!

However we’ve never claimed to be anything else.

And whilst we may not be very diverse in terms of gender, that’s where the bias stops.

Our members live in cities, towns and on farms. They are wives, mothers, professionals, grannies. They range in age from 4 months (yes months and she has lots to say!) to 100 plus. They are fifth generation Australian and first generation Australian refugees. Their interests range from International affairs to agriculture, social issues, baking, education, languages, politics, policy and knitting.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs we launched CWA Awareness Week in Sydney and I have had the privilege of spending time with some exceptional women who represent the diversity of our membership.

Gabrielle – the former member of the Australia Defence Force who has a Masters of Philosophy in Indonesia-Australia Political and Defence relations and can speak Indonesian, Chinese, Arabic and German

Annette – a …. year old powerhouse who is currently overseeing a 64,000 acre property in remote White Cliffs whilst her husband is away earning off farm income. In her spare time she manages software and disability product companies, looks after her sister in law and trains to be a volunteer ambulance officer.

Isabelle – a 21 year old university student from the Sydney’s inner western suburbs, who joined at the age of 17 and has won prestigious blue ribbons at the Sydney Royal Show for her baking prowess

You will also have seen blogs from other inspirational ladies like Debra, a professional Sydney based woman with a passion for enabling women to make good life choices through literacy and numeracy education; Tin, a Burmese senior lecturer in economics who, as a refugee herself, has a passion for caring for the land and human rights and is building schools and creating education paths for kids in her home country; and stay tuned for Barbara the vibrant member in her 70’s texting and tweeting faster than her friends can knit one, purl one!

This week has seen us embrace and promote the elements of the CWA that most people never hear about, because we haven’t mentioned them. Our members are normally quiet achievers, getting on with what needs to be done in their communities with little fuss and certainly no fanfare.

This week, however, we have been shouting (in a lady-like fashion, of course) about our efforts in raising and distributing funds for CHARITY, driving CHANGE and celebrating our DIVERSITY.

No matter your age, background, location or profession, the CWA has a place for you

p.s. Good luck Julie Bishop, if you get tired of all that testosterone…. www.cwaofnsw.org.au

CWA In the City, by Guest Blogger Debra Pinkerton

Sydney City Branch members enjoyed modelling authentic kaftans at a Moroccan-themed fundraising luncheon.

Sydney City Branch members enjoyed modelling authentic kaftans at a Moroccan-themed fundraising luncheon.

As we head into the inaugural CWA Awareness Week, our themes of DIVERSITY, CHARITY and CHANGE exemplify the driving force and enthusiasm of CWA of NSW.  There are many activities undertaken by the Association that often ‘go under the radar’ and this week is a time to promote the great work accomplished across this State.

As a professional urban woman living in Sydney I am proud to say I am a ‘city slicker’ member of the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales.

It may come as a surprise to many that 20% of the CWA membership live in the city.

Currently I am President of the Sydney City Evening Branch and the majority of our members are professional women aged in their 30’s or 40’s. Some have rural family heritage as daughters or granddaughters off the land while others were born and bred in the city and have no direct ties to rural NSW.

This DIVERSITY in our backgrounds is enriching as we share our different skills and experience.

Despite our city lifestyle, we are united by a desire to effect positive change within our local and state-wide community. The successes we achieve in driving this change are at the very centre of our pride in CWA.

While the tea and scones sold at the annual Royal Easter Show are a public emblem of CWA, the real business of our organisation is raising and distributing essential funds for medical research, supporting NSW families through scholarships, participating in humanitarian projects in Australia and internationally and lobbying government at all levels on issues as diverse as the environment, health, education and transport.

Our branch is part of Phillip Group which comprises 9 Sydney metropolitan branches plus Norfolk Island. The main focus for our fundraising is education. This year alone Phillip Group has distributed $26,000 in educational grants to applicants across NSW and another $13,500 through the Sylvia Osborne Scholarship for fashion and textile students.

This may be regarded as an act of CHARITY. However, these scholarships are a catalyst for progress.  With improved literacy and numeracy skills young people are empowered to shape their own destinies through informed decision making.

Sydney City Branch members share a conviction that the CWA of NSW is an effective and mobilised women’s organisation which advocates for urban and rural communities. We believe we can enable positive CHANGE.

I would encourage anyone who really wants to get involved in a grass-roots organisation that is making a positive impact for women and communities in Australia and overseas to join a CWA branch in their local area.