80 years in Tasmania: Country Women’s Association after younger members

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The Country Women’s Association (CWA) is celebrating 80 years of camaraderie at Agfest this year and are looking for new members.

Gwyneth Tangiora has been associated with the Country Women's Association for 50 years after starting out as a 12-year-old with her mother.

She remembers attending regular meetings, learning cooking skills and more than anything just having a lot of fun.

“CWA represents fellowship among women and looking after each other,” said Ms Tangiora.

For 80 years the CWA has been like a family for women across Tasmania.

Looking after the farmer’s wives is how CWA began, said Ms Tangiora. The group gave women a friendship base, help and skills and it’s just grown from there.

The main issue for the CWA is convincing younger Tasmanians that they can be a part of it, too.

“We do have a few younger groups, but we don’t have enough,” she said, adding that CWA is more than baking treats and knitting scarves.

It’s about learning the roles of president, secretary and treasurer; skills that can be transferred to a rural economy and everyday life, she said.

“It’s not to make money it’s to let the people know who we are, what we are and what we represent,” said Ms Tangiora.

Kingston/Channel CWA branch president Jane Grosvenor said one of the central roles of the CWA is government lobbying.

Some of the great successes of the CWA’s lobbying efforts include the compulsory wearing of seatbelts and child-proof locks on medicine bottles, she said.  

“People these days go 'oh, country women, they’re the ones who make scones and things'. I had no idea until I joined that it was the CWA who lobbied to get compulsory seatbelts, it was their advocacy,” she said. 

Lobbying for change is still a prominent part of the CWA today and their campaigns include calls for compulsory roll bars on farm equipment to prevent more deaths from the machines rolling over.

They are also raising funds to have defibrillators in all their Tasmanian branches.

The Country Women’s Association is located in the TasNetworks craft Pavilion at stall B20.