Judy Richardson, president of the Grafton CWA, hands out information with fellow member Lesley McFarlane and South Grafton Evening CWA members Barbara Green and Marjorie Astbury at Grafton Shoppingworld.
Judy Richardson, president of the Grafton CWA, hands out information with fellow member Lesley McFarlane and South Grafton Evening CWA members Barbara Green and Marjorie Astbury at Grafton Shoppingworld.

CWA attracts younger crowd

A CHANGE is occurring in the most iconic of organisations in rural areas, the Country Women’s Association.

After years of the average age of members increasing, it has now started to fall as the organisation attracts a younger group of women keen to pick up some of the skills and friendship of the members.

Former CWA state president and Grafton branch president Judy Richardson said she was amazed at the number of young women who were joining CWA to learn to cook.

She said the CWA was often considered a tea and scones organisation, and it was not something the organisation was embarrassed about, but there was a whole lot more to it.

Mrs Richardson said it was an organisation that afforded members the opportunity to be part of a small local group, a state organisation or connections with the Associated Country Women of the World with nine million members.

And it was more than a social organisation.

For 88 years it has lobbied for change to improve the lives of women, particularly in country areas.

Mrs Richardson said it had successfully lobbied for such things as white lines on the sides of roads, the introduction of low-alcohol beer and the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“When we go to politicians with our ideas they know we have considered it carefully,” she said.

Mrs Richardson said local branches could only go to their local MPs with issues, but bigger issues could be worked up through the branch structure and taken to higher levels of government.

“We hear that politicians ask if the CWA has commented on an issue,” she said. “We are more than a tea and scones organisation.

“Each year we give about $800,000 to charity in New South Wales, including providing education grants to children.”

Mrs Richardson was one of a group of women hosting a stall at Grafton Shoppingworld yesterday aimed to boost membership.

She said the main thing she got from membership was satisfaction from friendship and caring.

“You don’t need to be invited to join,” she said. “My message would be is that if you don’t know us, come along and try us.

“We have the ability to help women change and grow in all sorts of ways.”

She said it was also an organisation capable of change and where change was encouraged. It would not have lasted 88 years without it, she said.

“If it (the organisation) isn’t what you want now, come along and make it what you want,” she said.

There are 15 branches of the CWA in the NSW North Coast region, stretching from Urunga to Dorrigo and Yamba.

Anyone interested can call Judy Richardson on 6643 3813.


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