CWA will celebrate 100 years of service
Next year the Country Women's Association in NSW will celebrate its 100 years of service to the community.
The 13 CWA branches on the Central Coast area are busy preparing festivities for next year.
It all started in 1922 when lots of country women met at the first "Bushwomen's" Conference during the yearly Royal Agriculture Show in Sydney.
It was simply a gathering of women concerned about their problems in the bush.
Many were very isolated and there were hardly any services in rural areas.
For many women, it was a hard life.
The conference was a success and from then on branches, or rather "Restrooms", started to appear in towns, sometimes to the disbelief that women could organize such a thing.
At last, there was a place for women to rest, feed their babies and have a conversation with other women in similar circumstances, while their husbands did some trading.
Gosford, Terrigal and Somersby were the first branches being set up in this local area in 1930.
Often the women started a branch in their own home, fundraising steadily to acquire their own rooms.
As the women were mostly also mothers, they understood the need for baby health centres, where their babies could be checked and were given advice about their baby's health care.
The first baby health centre was established in Gosford in 1937 and over the years the baby visits steadily increased.
By 1972, over 8000 babies were examined a year.
The branch members worked hard to keep these centres going.
In later years, health policies changed, and the Department of Health closed many of the baby health centres and took over their running.
Here on the Coast, the transport was not great.
Many women had to travel by ferry with their prams and children in tow up to Gosford or Woy Woy, which had a baby health centre established 1932.
It was a day's hard work.
Time has changed a lot, but not the compassion and the financial or material help the CWA branches are still providing to their local communities, often working together with other local charities.
Making craft, sewing articles, or cooking for market stalls are still major fundraisers.
Sometimes branches are getting much appreciated donations from local residents and business - all for the common good
Next year, the CWA will celebrate all those women who have over the last 100 years delivered programs, assistance, advocacy, and compassion - advancing themselves, but also others in their quest for helping their country.
Media statement, 6 Nov 2021
Johanna Reygersberg, CWA Woy Woy