Gunnedah CWA calling for new members

The Gunnedah branch of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) is on the look-out for new blood.

The branch celebrated its 95th birthday last year but numbers are dwindling as long-time members age.

The CWA is hoping to attract younger members to the fold to bring both spirit and new ideas.

Gunnedah CWA president Coralie Howe said the association is heavily involved with the community and is always working on projects.

“We’ve always been there for women in the country,” she said.

“When the Sir Ivan bushfires were on, we did up a lot of bundles… shoe boxes of toiletries.”

“We're available for emergency situations,” Ms Howe said.

The branch is also working behind the scenes to organise baby bundles and emergency packs of toiletries for Gunnedah District Hospital.

CWA member Chris Scott said her daughter is a paramedic and she knew that people who unexpectedly ended up in emergency were without personal affects.

“When you get picked up, you don’t have anything,” she said.

The branch also actively helps local students with medical and educational grants.

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Ms Howe has been a member of the CWA since 1979, originally joining at Kendall. 

She said enjoys the “fellowship” with other members.

“You get to know people and learn what’s going on and be part of the community,” she said.

“You feel like you’re being useful.”

Ms Scott joined when she was received a scholarship from her local CWA at the age of 16. The scholarship enabled her to complete leadership training.

“I’ve felt like it has given me a good base,” she said.

She joined the Gunnedah CWA after she moved here 14 years ago..

The CWA is also active on a political level, with state president Annette Turner representing the association on parliamentary committees to “champion causes”. In recent years, the CWA has campaigned for the legalisation of medical cannabis, fought against CSG mining in our backyard, and called for tighter laws around foreign ownership of farm land, water and agribusiness.

“We just feel we’re doing something worthwhile,” Ms Howe said.

“It’s what you make it.”

To find out more about the Gunnedah CWA, contact Coralie Howe on 0427 427 911.

A little history

The Gunnedah branch was established at a meeting convened by Frances Studdy in the School of Arts building, on June 22, 1922, soon after she established the Emerald Hill branch on June 2, 1922.

Ms Studdy and Susan Ritchie attended an open conference of country women in Sydney from April 18-22, 1922, which was inspired by a female journalist, the writer of  a rural newspaper women’s page, and Bingara resident Grace Munro. 

The women had the objective of improving conditions for country women and from this spark came the Country Women’s Association. 

Ms Munro became the first state president, with Frances Studdy and Susan Ritchie elected to the first executive. Soon after the women began branches at Emerald Hill, Gunnedah and Boggabri.

In 1928, the Frances Studdy Rest Room, on the corner of Barber and Henry Streets, was purchased for 1250 pounds and used for mothers-in-waiting. In 1933, a baby health centre was established and an extra room and kitchen were built. 

The rest home was sold in 1963 and block of land purchased at 112 Barber Street. The CWA Rooms were opened on November 26, 1966.

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