What would we do without them?

Who? I hear you ask – City Members of the Country Women’s Association of NSW. Who’d have thought!!

Last week I included a short piece from Annie Kiefer, member of our Phillip Group, whose branches are situated in the heart of Sydney. We have branches right across the city and their support has been provided, unstintingly, almost since our inception in 1922.

I asked Annie, as one of many city members, to provide a “snippet” of her CWA involvement and representation; the following is her tale.

Living in Sydney affords me all sorts of opportunities to attend many local events, and all the while spreading the glad tidings of all things CWA of NSW!!

Today I am very excited; I am off to Radio Station 2RPH to do my first “reading”.  I have been chosen as a volunteer to read a variety newspapers over the radio waves. This is a service provided for not only the vision impaired, but for those who cannot read, folks learning English as a second language who follow the newspaper readings as they are read on air, hospital patients, those who are unable to hold a paper or book and it is even a great way of “reading” the newspaper whilst driving!! I am also told I have a great face for Radio!! I have had to learn about controlling not only my breathing, but my mouth muscles (did you know that some people have lip laziness?). Nor did I. I have learned to ululate!! I feel quite confident that I will now be quite at home in the Middle East and Africa, such is my ululating skill. Then there is the control of my saliva. I am NOT to dribble whilst reading!! Thank God they have pointed out the “COUGH” button, which takes me off air when I forget to ululate, get out of breath, sneeze, cough and cannot control my dribble.

Annie Kiefer and Aina at the Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House

Annie Kiefer and Aina at the Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House

Recently I attended an Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House. This is an Annual “Celebrate Being an Australian” event, sponsored by the National Council of Women of NSW where awards are presented to a number of tertiary students to assist them in gaining higher qualifications. The field is wide and varied and the following are a small sample of the wonderful women who received awards. From Laura, whose honours thesis will focus on research into the processes that control the growth & progression of aggressive breast cancers, to Ashley who is studying and working with women, children and youth who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Then there is Venus, about to commence her honours in Visual Communication, who was born in Kabul, home-schooled by her mother because she was forbidden by the Taliban to attend school and whose family fled Pakistan when the threat of a forced marriage loomed. Finally I met Aina, originally from Russia but now a fully-fledged Aussie, whose passion is astronomy and in particular a long held interest of Black Holes in space.

Her Excellency the Honourable Marie Bashir was in attendance, as well as representatives from such women’s groups as Soroptimists, Catholic Women’s League, Australian Federation of Graduate Women, NSW, Zonta International, and the Ukrainian Women’s Association.

Thanking the guest speaker Verity Firth

Thanking the guest speaker Verity Firth

The guest speaker was Verity Firth, CEO of the Public Education Foundation, who gave a very lively and amusing talk on the importance of education and cited examples from her own personal experiences.

I was very lucky indeed to be asked to a belated International Women’s Day get-together. Over 80 women from various Associations, Organisations and Corporations were ferried to Warwick Farm where the local Community Centre had organised a day at which women who live in the area could display their craftwork and cooking skills. Pru Goward, the Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women, was there to meet and greet everyone. There were about 30 stalls with some beautiful food, free massages and manicures, wonderful entertainment from all the countries represented and a most interesting spectrum of women from all walks of life to speak with.

Coming up for me next are Board Meetings at Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy as well as National Council of Women meetings. Then there is the exciting Women Walk the World Day and to round out the calendar Group President, Patricia Boyer & I have been invited, as Guest Speakers, to talk about the CWA of NSW at The Women’s Club in Sydney. I hope I don’t cough, splutter, ululate, become breathless or dribble. We’ll see!!!



Connecting City to Country

Broken axle on mixer

The broken magic mixing machine.

Um, just wanted to quietly tell you that we had between 110–130+mls of rain (4.5- 5” for pre-metric boomers like me) last week, which is a good start towards a winter crop and some feed for our poor cattle. I’m not shouting about it though because many did not receive nearly as much, and I think some areas received nothing at all.

I’m also not making a big song and dance because the rain so far is less than half what we will need to produce a reasonable crop and logistically it creates a few issues as far as feeding goes because the magic mixing machine¹ does not tow well in mud. However in the interests of not sounding like a whinging cocky, whilst trying not to let Huey (the country god of rain) know we are slightly more optimistic than last week, it is nice to see a slight tinge of green already starting to appear. It reminds us why we live here.

Jeff and the boys did put a few plans in place when they knew we might be in for a reasonable amount of rain and started feeding the cattle almost twice as much as normal to hopefully get them through a couple of days of just having dry grass and saltbush to eat. They also opened gates for the cattle to come closer to the house paddock where it would be easier to take the feed, once dry enough to get about. One thing we need to avoid is letting them get too hungry because then they lose even more condition “chasing” the green pick as it starts to shoot.

Just so that I am not the one to destroy the myth that farmers are never happy or you’ve started to think we are out of the woods I should tell you that on the way back from feeding on Sunday the axle broke on the m & m machine, destroying the tyre in the process and creating what will probably be several thousand dollars worth of damage. Karma’s a ……!

Also on Sunday, but on a more positive note, some of our city members were looking to greener pastures of a different kind and the following tale from Annie Kiefer describes their day. As far as I know the wheels did not fall off their cart:

I awoke Sunday morning to a beautiful day – just the type of day to spend down on Sydney Harbour at the Opera House! I set off with my daughter, Tonya, to set up our CWA stand at the “All About Women” Day at the Opera House. Sydney City Branch girls were so very eager to go and spread the word about CWA being alive and well in the City.   We fielded questions from women who enquired about “what do we actually do” to “I didn’t know you have Branches in the City”. We spoke to some wonderful women who shared their stories of “my Nanna used to be a member” and who vowed and declared to not lose their magazine and leaflets all about CWA and who fervently promised to seriously consider joining up………when they found the time. We will see. All in all it was a wonderful exercise in PR and a marvellous way to connect the City to the Country. The age group of women attending the day ranged from 18 – 90.

All about women - Merna Tonya Annie Debra

Merna, Tonya, Annie, Debra at the Sydney Opera House

¹For a description of the magic mixing machine see blog post How Hungry are You.

A Place For You


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