In most of the small towns we have visited we have passed by an often nondescript, dare I say bland, building in some unobtrusive corner or backstreet that belongs to the Country Women’s Association.

But there is nothing bland about this collection of women. In Australia the CWA has over 44,000 members spread across 1,855 branches.

According to its website the CWA was formed in 1945 to: “advance the rights and equity of women, families and communities in Australia through advocacy and empowerment, especially for those living in regional, rural and remote Australia.

When thinking of the CWA the picture that often comes to mind is one of elderly ladies in aprons organising cake stalls and pumpkin scone competitions and second hand book sales.

But in reality this image is undeserved. The CWA is a highly motivated and surprisingly progressive organisation with national projects that include

  • the banning of alcohol advertising in sport
  • changing the current laws around patient access to Full Spectrum herbal medicinal Cannabis extracts and dried herb Cannabis
  • addressing the lack of equitable access to mental health support for rural and remote communities.

As well as this they have worked with the government in the development of a National Drought Strategy and provided over 20 million dollars in drought assistance from their fundraising activities. On top of that, they deliver scholarships and grants including rural and remote area nursing professional development grants.

After learning all this, all I can say is I will no longer dare judge an organisation by its bland brown-brick cover.

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