Australia’s country women’ group marks centenary

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Australia’s country women’ group marks centenary

You can find a Country Women's Association hall in any regional town in Queensland.

They have been a home away from home for thousands of women across the farming state to meet for a cuppa and chat while living in some of the most remote areas of the country, often on isolated stations or farms.

100 years later, members of the Country Women's Association CWA in Queensland are celebrating the colossal impact of rural Australia's largest advocacy group.

Traditionally renowned for their culinary prowess, the scones and cakes made by Queensland Country Women's Association QCWA members have saved lives - raising millions of dollars for those affected by natural disasters and drought, women and children's health, rural education, mental health and disease.

Armies of volunteers have rallied at the drop of a hat to change because of their long-established connections to communities and passion for coming together.

As events take place across the state to mark the group's centenary this August 11, QCWA state president Sheila Campbell says the organisation has come a long way from just scones. While cooking and craft remain a big part of the QCWA, the organisation is working to draw younger women into the association.

It's changed because of the fact that new branches start up in city areas that we didn't have before, according to Ms Campbell.

More recently, the work of the QCWA has involved making birth kits for women in Papua New Guinea to create more hygienic labour environments.

The group sends classroom supplies to schools in the South Pacific.

Since 1990, the QCWA has provided payments for Queensland women and families who have been affected by natural disasters or other crises.

Members of the QCWA branch use the centenary to reflect on the impact they have made in their communities during difficult times and the difference they have made in the lives of others.

When she joined Cloncurry teacher and mother Tania Laffey didn't know much about the QCWA.

I really enjoy the atmosphere and the casual side of it, said Ms Laffey.

Especially in the wet season when you've been inside for days and you just want to get out to somewhere that is still clean, safe and dry, but it's the friendships that keep me coming back. The Country Women's Association has remained a constant, striving to stay relevant to the modern times, as well as honouring the century-old traditions of the institution throughout the years.

We are not horses in cars these days, but it appeals to rural women.