FRESH FACES: Younger women are joining the Bangalow CWA as they learn there's more to this group than tea and scones. L to R; India Reynolds and Austin, Jan Roberts, Bev Kliger, Madge Fishburn
FRESH FACES: Younger women are joining the Bangalow CWA as they learn there's more to this group than tea and scones. L to R; India Reynolds and Austin, Jan Roberts, Bev Kliger, Madge Fishburn Supplied

CWA a vibrant group of women of all ages

FORGET tea and scones, the Country Women's Association is one of Australia's most nimble lobby groups as they seek to give a voice to important issues.

As the CWA celebrates it's National Awareness Week, the Bangalow branch are inviting you to take a closer look at what makes the CWA a real community force.

Bangalow CWA president Di Campbell said it's all about women supporting women.

"CWA is about making our community stronger, and assisting those in need in the Byron Shire and beyond,” she said.

"We are a collective of strong women, committed to providing a safe and nurturing space for other women in the community, whilst working with charities and governments local, State and national to give voice to causes that matter to everyone.”

Ms Campbell said the branch is composed of women from all walks of life and across all ages.

"Members bring a diverse collection of skills to this community organisation which has been located on the main street of Bangalow for almost 50 years,” she said.

"Gathering weekly, this women's collective work together on craft, cooking and other items which can be sold at the rooms to raise funds which enable them to have a direct impact on issues which matter in the wider community (and) a vibrant group of women with a strong drive to maintain the key traditions of the CWA as well as working together to shape a community we can all be proud to call home.”

Ms Campbell said a key element for all members is the purpose of maintaining a sense of place for all women in the community, somewhere they can gather, amongst peers where they can lend time, skills and resources to supporting those in need.

Bev Kliger, a member since 2014 and a Social Policy Researcher believes the CWA is as relevant now as it ever was.

In the Byron Shire, community housing and homelessness, especially amongst women, is a cause Ms Kiliger is passionate about, and one the Bangalow CWA will be bringing to the state CWA conference in May 2018 with the view to gaining support for government action on women experiencing homelessness.

"By providing connection to the community and the people in it, the CWA can be a voice for change, creating real impact by distributing funds raised to causes which matter,” she said.

"This is an issue which will only continue to become more prevalent across the country as mortgage stress rises.”

Ms Kilger believes the CWA's ability to evolve over time will see it continue to be a strong force in the community and around the country.

"By being an open and accepting organisation I believe the CWA can remain relevant across all generations,” she said.

Jan Roberts who also became a member in 2014, sees the CWA as an opportunity to work with other local women in contributing something tangible to the community.

"It's not just about craft,” she said.

"Members with all kinds of gifts, can contribute meaningfully to the organisation, (while) the CWA rooms are valuable as a place to simply sit and have a cup of tea with like-minded women and gain the important support which this can offer.”

Ms Roberts believes a new vision within the CWA can be strived for without losing the traditions and values of those who have been part of the CWA for a long time.

"It's here for all of us and here to be shaped with members' passions,” she said.

"We are both inward looking in supporting one another but also outward looking to see where the CWA can support the community and beyond.”

Madge Fishburn, a long-standing member of the Bangalow CWA, first joined the organisation in Broken Hill as a young woman in a time when getting married meant leaving your job.

Ms Fishburn said the CWA offered social company as well as a resource for learning new skills.

Meanwhile, new member India Reynolds, 34, recently joined the Bangalow branch and said the CWA offers something to be valued and treasured.

"They are a strong group of local women, sharing life advice, skills and experience with the goal to support causes which matter to everyone.” she said.

"They work for real change and impact, striving to ensure country areas remain a thriving community for all.”

Ms Reynolds said while her craft skills may be lacking, there's a real depth of strength to good work the organisation achieves.

"I can't knit or sew, but see the CWA as an opportunity to be part of the largest women's organisation in the country, lending my voice on causes which matter to me and ensuring I'm doing my part in supporting the community I love to live in,” she said.

"And at the end of the day what is more fantastic that a gathering of women supporting one another and the community.” 

The CWA Bangalow branch welcome potential members to visit at 31 Byron St, Bangalow or follow them on Instagram and Facebook

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