One blog down …

Today Jackie asked a simple question … “Are you going to continue with the blog”? Such a simple sentence, such an easy task I thought! I can talk, so I can write – right?

Not so. As I sit at the table tonight I have been struck with dreaded Bloggers Block and try as I might I cannot come up with one simple, interesting thing to say.

The table is littered with crumpled pieces of paper and to avoid the task at hand I move to the lounge and plump up the cushions. I wander into the laundry and put on a load of washing then finally I move to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. The kettle boils, I make a cup of plunger coffee minus the plunger and watch the grains of coffee float on top and then stick to the side of the cup. Many a Barista would be shaking their head in disgust at this poor excuse for a coffee.

I head back to the desk and Google a social media site “26 Tips for Overcoming Bloggers Block” I scroll down to Tip #6 which offers the advice … Get to know your followers and preferences, find out what they expect, why they follow the blog and what they hope to learn. Well easier said than done I think! Deciding to make a coffee seems to be the panacea I am looking for, it frees my mind and I’m away … the creative writing process has begun.

How can I base my writing on the advice from Tip #6 when I do not know the blog followers or what they hope to learn.  What I do know for certain about CWA blog readers is that they are volunteers. This thought leads me to earlier this morning at the State Office where Phillip Group International Officer Margery and her band of merry packers were putting together the material aid packages. I watched, and I think got in the way, as they packed with care, thought and precision, matching material, cotton, zips and buttons, adding thoughtful extras such as reading glasses and patterns.

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From left to right – Annette with Annie Kiefer, Patricia Boyer,  Wendy Diver, Andrea Pulford, Noelene Hampson, Barbara Kendrick and Margery East.

To use a well worn cliché … While ‘marvelling at the wonder’ of CWA ladies I ask myself – just why do we volunteer? We volunteer because we are concerned about the needs of others.  It is a selfless activity which has positive benefits for a person or community. It helps develop our skills, often promotes feelings of wellness and improves quality of life.

Volunteers are integral to CWA and we function as an organisation because of all their generous time and good will, so thank you CWA members, you are truly appreciated. And if you are not a member we would love for you to join our wonderful Association.

CWA State Vice President Beryl Brain (left) attended the ICPA conference earlier this year with  Jill Miller from Ascham School and Pauline Turner from PLC Sydney

Thoughts From the Road


Well, hello again and a big thank you to Lyn for being my guest blogger last week. I’m thinking that when I “retire” from my current position I’ll go in search of a derelict vehicle and swap the soapbox for a sh*tbox!! (Spell check is not happy!)

Since I last wrote Bourke has received a bit more rain (note to self; invite PM to come to Rowena) and the Federal Government released its drought assistance measures which was pleasing to see and will help some in the short term. I remain concerned about those who rely on agriculture but who are not farmers and the long term consequences of an even greater population drift as a result of employees having to be laid off. A wage subsidy would have benefitted whole communities more and it will be interesting to see how the banks respond into the future when refinancing approaches are made. However, it is a good start and well done to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce for going in to bat for battlers.

I watched Alex Cullen’s excellent story, “Drought; the last straw” on Sunday night and couldn’t help shedding a tear or two for my own boys, at home with Jeff and experiencing their own “baptism of fire” into farming life.

Last week I toured the Branches in our Blue Mountains Group of CWA of NSW and met the members on their own turf, so to speak. It is always enlightening to meet and talk to those members who, for various reasons, cannot attend AGM’s, schools/seminars, or commit to time away from home by volunteering to be on a state committee, but who quietly achieve good things for the benefit of their communities and the perception of CWA. This week I am visiting the Far South Coast members and look forward to hearing their stories and perspectives because a president cannot represent effectively if she (he) does not know the people for whom they advocate. Besides that, those always manning stockvault-milk135412the kitchen sink are often the ones who know exactly what’s going on! (and at dinner last night it was actually a man!!!)

Next week will see the annual Agricultural and Environment seminar at Potts Point and I hope to catch up with some members whilst they are here increasing their knowledge about “What milk is in your fridge” before finally wending my way home to reaquaint myself with the family and survey the damage from the dust and wind storm Rowena received whilst the rain fell at Bourke.

More Gadgets, Less Time


“You can never solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place” – Eleanor Roosevlet

The State Executive of CWA of NSW are meeting this week in Sydney to deal with the ongoing management of the association, including the issues of rising insurance costs on Branch buildings and the increasing burdens of new WH&S regulations.

These issues and requirements place immense pressure on volunteer organisations and governments need to understand that the huge contribution volunteers make to their communities is under threat of collapse because of continued changes to regulations.

As one of Australia’s iconic and longest serving community based groups the Country Women’s Association of NSW provides an example of membership trends over the decades that have, sadly, declined, even though Australia has a larger population, but then there are also more causes to join.

Last time I looked at Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) figures the number of people giving up their time had not changed greatly. What had changed, as I’ve said, was the number of organisations but more significantly, the number of hours each person was prepared to commit. Within different age groups there were some increases but almost every category showed that the number of hours available to volunteer had dropped significantly.

Presumably this is, in part, a reflection of our time poor lives, but it begs the question; why can’t we, like other groups, make use of new technologies and different methodologies to change our processes and encourage more participants? Am I being naïve in my thinking? Probably, but nothing ventured nothing gained! Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You can never solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place”.

Organisations can continue to remind governments about the onerous obligations continually being placed on their members but at the same time we could be striving to change the things we CAN control.

Ideas that might be “outside the square”, but within an organisations aims or mission, should be encouraged and at least trialled because supporting each other is part of the ethos that attracts and keeps people volunteering.