The Country Women’s Association of Victoria Inc. (Association) was formed on 12 March 1928 out of concern for women living in isolation and in difficult times. This active Association is an incorporated volunteer organisation that is non-party political and non-sectarian that today boasts over 5,200 members throughout Victoria for country and city women.
Whilst the focus has often been on tea and scones, there is so much more on the menu of this dynamic Association which aims to improve conditions for women and children.
The founder and first State President of the Association, Lady Mitchell, CBE, realised the big part women would be called upon to play as society moved forward and women have benefited through this focus on service and friendship which she engendered.
The Association provides a support network for women that encourages and fosters socialising, growth, friendship and learning. The organisation fundraises at a local level to meet the needs of individual communities and on a state-wide scale to provide scholarships and to support other worthy organisations. Each year a number of causes are selected and effort is put in to educating members on the work of these organisations and raises funds to support them. In 2011 the Association is supporting HeartKids and connecting with Kindergartens state wide.
The women of the Association are initiators, fighters and lobbyists. The women who formed and ran the Association in the early days are an inspiration to us all. They worked in difficult circumstances to build a better life for women and children and to break the isolation that befalls many today. They were courageous and showed great vision.
The work of the Association has changed over time but many traditions and procedures of the Association remain constant. The framework has been enduring and the objectives of the Association still reflect the desire to serve and a readiness to adapt.
Association members contribute to improve local communities in many diverse ways and continue to provide an invaluable link and service for women. All members are looking and listening for ways to improve the opportunities for women and children in local communities and are not afraid to lobby for service improvements and retention.
The Association has made a huge contribution to the services and facilities available to women and families across the state and continues to perform an important role in fundraising, assisting in emergencies, crises and natural disasters and making representation to Government regarding issues that affect women and children.
The Country Women’s Association of Victoria is diverse, active and relevant. There is something in the Association for everyone and it continues to play a significant role in the fabric of Australian life. We look forward to contributing over many years to come.
Some of the achievements over the years have been:
· War effort – camouflage nets, sheepskin vests, wool spun garments, food parcels and fat, wool quilts, children’s clothes
· Community– rest rooms, infant welfare, playgrounds, public amenities, tree planting, environmental improvement, community work and projects, home science van touring the state for teaching crafts, library service, Wool train tours to encourage the use of wool, baby health centres , Bush Nursing Hospitals
· Lobbying – swimming pools, playgrounds, other community needs
· Wellbeing – seaside and mountain holiday homes, city residential club, Home help scheme (30 years)
· Scholarships – since 1946
· Interest Groups – Craft, Cooking, Music and Drama
· Welfare – teaching of craft work to women prisoners at Pentridge, toys for the outback, dental van for the outback, hospital visitation since 1939 [In 1932 the Association helped 5,000 women with food, bedding, clothing, railway fares, dental and surgical treatment.]
· Emergency – craft items to assist those in crises, financial support for disasters (flood, fire, drought, accident)
· Support – Pennies for Friendship (world projects), Mentally Ill Fund and Housecraft Centres, Rehabilitation cottage (re-learn skills), Home Tutor Scheme for Migrants (teach English and Australian ways), units in Retirement Villages, working with Aboriginal women
· Fundraising – Royal Melbourne Show, Thanksgiving Fund (Community project), fundraising events
· Representation – United Nations of UN Women, local organisations
Current activities are:
· Community – representation for and involvement in local activities
· Support – Pennies for Friendship (world projects for water, food, skills, well being, safety and security)
· Scholarships – ongoing provision of educational grants
· Emergency (crisis – flood, fire, drought, accident) – pamper packs (toiletries), financial support
· Welfare (hardship) - craft items to assist those in crises, financial support
· Fundraising – Royal Melbourne Show, fundraising events
· Representation – Victorian Foodbank; Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Victoria; Council on the Ageing; FarmSafe Victoria; BreastScreen; Travellers Aid; Community Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) plus other women’s lobby groups
· Social / Interest Groups – International and Community Support, Performing Arts (singing, dancing, public speaking), Creative Arts (craft, cooking), Social Issues, Magazine, Agriculture and Environment, and much more.
· Lobbying – recent focus has been on:
o Australian made, grown and owned
o Food Labeling
o Food importation regulations and correct labeling of produce
o Water sustainability
o Carbon Tax
o Overseas ownership of land
o Free emergency service access from mobile phones
o National Disability care and support scheme, insurance and compliance
o Ceasing the practice of mixed gender rooms in all public hospitals in Victoria
o Medical benefits for specific needs
o Fire Service levy
o Aerial baiting for wild dogs
o Landfill levies
o Animal plagues and management – locusts, mice
o Women’s health and wellbeing
o Mammograms for all women
o Pedestrian Safety at pedestrian crossings
o Smart meters
o Keep Australia Beautiful
o Problem Gambling
o Rural Education
o Medical Services
o Safer Communities