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Bush women on the move

Saturday, 6th October, 2018

CWA President Annette Turner and her husband Barry on their property near Whitecliffs. PICTURE: AAP CWA President Annette Turner and her husband Barry on their property near Whitecliffs. PICTURE: AAP

By Emily Roberts

The CWA of NSW is proving it’s not just about “tea and scones” with growth in numbers and the reopening of branches, including the Broken Hill chapter. 

For the first time in more than 10 years, the CWA of NSW has increased its membership, and added several new branches along the way.

“Between September 2017 and September this year our membership numbers grew rather than fell, and while it’s not by an enormous number, it does represent a very significant shift,” CWA of NSW president Annette Turner said.

In mid-September, membership numbers stood at over 8000, with close to 400 branches, making the CWA of NSW the largest CWA body in Australia and also making it the largest advocacy group for rural, regional and remote people in NSW.

The Broken Hill branch was one of the last to start up again.

“The Broken Hill branch recently reformed after 25 years of recession,” Mrs Turner said.

“The branch now has over 45 members.

“There has been a huge increase amongst CWA itself.

“But to have Broken Hill restart with so many members is great.”

Mrs Turner said when she first came in as president she wanted to work on membership numbers.

“At one stage CWA NSW had 25,000 members.

“There was a decrease because I think women thought we were just tea and scones.

“They felt our aims from 1922 weren’t relevant, but they are relevant because the main aim was to lobby for people, women and children from regional and remote areas.

“Our advocacy has also strengthened and I think people have now come to realise what the CWA can do.

“By joining a branch you can be a voice. The issues we promote are voted on at our conference.

“Then it becomes the duty of the president and CEO to lobby.”

Mrs Turner said some of the success the CWA has had included lobbying for safer exclusion zones around reproductive clinics, removing tax from sanitary products, and the storage of blood on hospital sites.

“Women go to those clinics for lots of reasons, people just assume it is for an abortion.

“The GST has been taken off women’s sanitary products, which is something we have lobbied.

“We are also lobbying to ensure rural and regional hospitals store blood.

“With the drought, kids are also helping their parents with the feeding of stock and we would like to see the Q fever immunisation on the PBS, as well as testing for it.

“Children can’t have that immunisation until they are over 15, but it is something we are concerned with, as children help their parents out during these hard times.”

Mrs Turner said the CWA of NSW has also been granted $4.5m to hand out for those impacted by drought.

She said farmers and graziers can apply for this funding which has a cap of $3,000.

“It’s one-page application and we have the link on our webpage.

“It is being awarded to people who have an income of more than 50 per cent off of agriculture.

“The money will go to household support, food bills, doctor appointments, personal fuel usage.

“At the moment we have a four week wait, but we are trying to get through it all.

“Because we are constantly raising awareness, we are in the public eye and I think that has helped increase membership.

“By September we had 8,000 members.

“It’s great to see. We’re showing people that we’re not just tea and scones.”

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