Advocates for positive change
THE 95th annual Queensland Country Women’s Association conference has officially wrapped up in Brisbane after a massive three-day event.
Held at the Brisbane Convention Centre in South Bank, the conference saw upwards of 230 QCWA members and as many as 200 public patrons gather to celebrate the organisations work over the past financial year, with the senior committee setting new goals for 2018-19.
QCWA President Joy Coulson said the event is an important part of the calendar for members.
“To get together, as a whole state, is very important and the ladies look forward to catching up with each other as well,” Joy said, adding the conference opened up and opportunity to hear from each branch about what challenges they may be facing within individual communities.
“Each area has a different problem they need help with - from health issues to education.”
Celebrating 95 years of community connection and fundraising efforts, Joy said the next big goal is to reach 100.
“We need to change our attitude as to how we get young people involved because our numbers are declining because of our ages and so we’re using things like Facebook to grow and connect.”
Southern Region State Vice President Maria Keys said the association was finding increased growth in the South East with a number of sub-branches opening up over the past year.
“They might start out with something as simple as a post on Facebook from someone wanting to get involved and it’s been a snowballing effect in some places,” Marie said.
“They’re not only young people but women who have finished their careers and who are keen to help rural and isolated branches and connect sister branches.”
With three Regions, 20 Divisions and more than 240 Branches, the QCWA is the largest and most widespread women’s organisation in Queensland.
National President Dorothy Coombe said the association opened doors for personal growth while connecting community.
“I get inspired by the women on the ground who sit in Branches, raise funds, work on projects, build communities and get out and do things,” she said.
“When I come here, I have the chance to speak with them directly, listen to what their needs are, what innovations there are and where they need to go as a community,” Dorothy said, by communicating these needs, she was able to advocate on behalf of members through every level of government.
“After we advocate, we work with outside organisations to take on projects or charters to actually implement the work. It’s fantastic.”
Joy said the QCWA would be focusing on upgrading buildings and looking after rural and remote communities over the next 12 months after being presented with an early birthday present of $1million by the Palaszczuk Government in August.
“We have lots of things to organise with that and we have to make sure we get it right and keep the ball rolling.”
WITH the ideals of freedom and friendship at the forefront of their mantra, QCWA branches are banding together to educate and connect international communities.
Speaking at the 95th Annual QCWA Conference in Brisbane last Tuesday, State International Officer Sara Faddy said many people weren’t aware of the important work the association was doing across the South Pacific.
“It’s not so much about going into communities and telling people what to do but in showing them and working together to help and make life easier.”
Sara said part of the QCWA volunteer efforts incorporated a partnership with Rotary International to provide Birthing Kits to women in the Pacific Islands, in particular those in Papua New Guinea.
“They are very basic kits but they include everything a woman might need for a safe birth,” Sara said.
“Often the women will give birth on muddy ground, so there’s a plastic mat, soap and a scalpel to make sure they deliver safely and hygienically.
“Branches across the state will put these items together and send them to the State Office - from there, they are sent to Papua New Guinea where they are transported up into the hills by motorbike.”
The South Pacific region includes 11 countries, with Sara currently working to raise funds which will provide fresh water tanks to homes in Tonga through the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW).
“We do skill setting and education and we provide materials and seeds so people in the South Pacific can then create a sustainable job or food for themselves so they can create a sustainable lifestyle to feed their family and their community.”
Since 2013, the QCWA has provided more than 430 women farmers in the South Pacific with support through agricultural projects and education.
“It’s a matter of people getting together to support women on the ground.”