Country Women's Association
The Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWA or CWAA) is the largest women's organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation, unlike Men's Sheds, is self-funded, nonpartisan and nonsectarian.
The Country Women's Association was formed in 1922, initially with chapters in in both New South Wales and Queensland. South Australia followed in 1926, initially as the "Burra Country Women's Service Association" with Mrs. Mary Warnes as its founder and first President. A metropolitan branch was formed in Adelaide in 1928. By 1936 there was a branch in each of the States and territories of Australia. The formation of a federal body was discussed in 1943 and was agreed in 1945 by a meeting of all state presidents. The First Annual Conference of the C.W.A. of Australia was held in Adelaide in 1946. In 1947 delegates were appointed to go to the Associated Country Women of the World Conference in Amsterdam.
During the depression years, the CWA helped those in need with food and clothing parcels. During World War II, the CWA provided meals for the troops at Quorn, South Australia and Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, their efforts being rated one of the best voluntary war time services in Australia. CWA members also made camouflage nets and knitted balaclavas and socks for the troops. In 1992, the CWA of Australia was awarded the RSL Anzac Peace Prize in recognition of their outstanding effort in promoting international understanding and contributing to world peace in accordance with best traditions exemplified by the ANZAC spirit.
Education, Health and Wellbeing
The CWA awards student scholarships; as well as providing instruction and encouraging participation in the fields of drama, art, music, public speaking, cooking and floral art. The organisation runs workshops for older members on how to use computers, electronic banking and ATMs. Submissions are made to governments at all levels on a wide variety of social issues. Despite the organisation's involvement in a range of issues and activities, the association with cooking, in particular scones persists. Seen as part of the local community in many parts of Australia, and its culture the CWA provides cross-generational support for women's, and children's, health and wellbeing.
Property and Funding Issues
The CWA owns a range of properties built and maintained by members. In recent years there has been some controversy concerning the sale of the organisation's bush community halls. Due to CWA being entirely self funded, unlike Men's Sheds, some individual branches did not have enough members to continue paying for their upkeep, including council rates, insurance, electricity, water and maintenance. Nine halls were sold in New South Wales between 2003 and 2005, including halls at Cowra, Ettalong Beach and Jindabyne.
CWA building at Elliston, South Australia First Branch Building in South Australia (1936).
Giru, Queensland, 2009.
The Rest Room, Helidon, Queensland. Opened 1957.
Kilcoy, Queensland, 2011.
Esk, Queensland, 2011.
- Parker, Heather The First Fifty Years South Australian Country Women's Association, Adelaide 1979 ISBN 0-9595800-0-X
- Gregory, Denis (2005-06-26). "Boss sells CWA meeting halls". Fairfax Digital Network - Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
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- Country Women's Association of Australia
- Country Women's Association of NSW
- Country Women's Association of Victoria
- Country Women's Association of WA
- South Australian Country Women's Association
- Country Women's Association in Tasminia
- Country Women's Association Northern Territory
- Country Women's Association Queensland