To paraphrase American author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, reports of the death of the CWA are grossly exaggerated.
In fact, a group of enthusiastic, fun-loving and incredibly community-minded women at Goolwa are trying to start a new branch – or bring their local club that closed five years ago back to life.
And according to CWA regional officer Trenna Eatts, who lives at Myponga, there are at least another two groups wanting to form a new branch. It defies a trend which has seen most branches suffer a membership decline, with Trenna’s own local branch falling from 80 members just after World War II to 15.
The real problem that has faced the CWA for years is that not enough people know what this marvellous organisation, which was formed 1929, actually does, and what the initials stand for – Country Women’s Association, and not Christian Women’s Association as many believe.
Rosemary Sage, one of the keen women wanting to get the CWA going again in Goolwa, used to think of the CWA as a bunch of old women making scones and craft.
“It’s the common perception,” Rosemary said. “But I have discovered some great things about this organisation, especially how it raises money to help communities.
“Personally, since the Baby Boomers have emerged, and I am one of them, groups like the CWA have changed; country women have changed.
“The CWA has done some amazing work over many years, especially helping families during and after the Second World War and providing assistance to young mothers like it still does today.
“The successful CWA branches have 55-60 year-olds involved. The CWA is changing by the nature of younger thinking women. They are not just doing the cookies and the cakes and all that; they want to see things happen and are prepared to look at different fundraising methods.
“I was talking to a friend who is a member of the Naracoorte branch, and they had a day where someone came in and taught them Thai cooking. They all cooked up a feast and enjoyed it; they had a wonderful time, and at the end of the day they threw some money in and supported a charity. You can have an afternoon tea or a movie morning; there are many ways to get a bit of glue to hold a group together.”
The Port Elliot CWA branch recently closed, and for people wanting to reinstate a branch at Goolwa is special for Trenna because in her current CWA role she sat through the Goolwa closure. “I would certainly look forward to their opening again, I can tell you,” she said.
“Goolwa, like Port Elliot, just did not have enough numbers, but things are changing; Goolwa could become the third new group in a short time, and we are getting close to having 3000 members across the state once again.
The CWA promotes itself as a not-for-profit, non-party political and non-sectarian organisation made up of volunteers who work to promote the welfare and conditions of life for women and children of all ages whether in the city or country.
The CWA has made a magnificent effort over the years helping women commincate with other women especially in remote areas, and the isolation factor remains very much an issue across the Fleurieu Peninsula, especially in cases where women have lost their partner and/or are new to the area.
According to Rosemary, the CWA remains an important part of our culture and heritage. “It is what Australians do; they help each other,” she said.
“The CWA has a state objective, which this year has been the Riding for the Disabled, and a percentage of the funds raised go to that cause. However, the money raised here will basically remain here for local causes. If people know the monies raises are staying here then they are more likely to donate, but everything is for a great cause.”
CWA membership is $35 per annum, and each branch holds monthly meetings.
Trenna has been involved in the CWA for more than 20 years, and said among many things it had allowed her to meet so many people and make good friends.
“It would be nice if the people of Goolwa and surrounding districts could also do this again,” Trenna said.
“Some of the activities have changed over the years, but members still enjoy doing things like art, craft, photograophy, floral arrangements and drama.
For the Goolwa branch to be revived, people need to express their interest by contacting Treena on 8558 6386. Should the response be positive, there will be a public meeting, at which a show of hands can form a new branch and elect the office bearers.
Also, contact Treena if you would like to join the CWA – there are branches at Victor Harbor, Hindmarsh Valley, Yankalilla, Myponga and Myponga.