Serving cake and support

Country Women's Association supporting our farmers

100 Stories of Hope
Country Women's Association of NSW Macquarie Group president Karen McHale.

Country Women's Association of NSW Macquarie Group president Karen McHale.

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Country Women's Association supporting our farmers

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Friendship, a slice of cake and a smile can mean everything to someone going through a tough time.

Serving up support since 1922, the Country Women's Association has some experience in helping its membership through drought, and while its role in drought relief co-ordination, policy development and mental health advocacy often makes the news, sometimes it is the quiet support, the companionship and understanding which makes the biggest difference.

CWA NSW president Stephanie Stanhope said her favourite part of the organisation was the smiles on the faces of the members when they gather.

"There is still hope, as long as women get together and smile," she said.

"The friendship of the women in this organisation is quite amazing."

Ms Stanhope said the CWA was unique in its ability to support women through drought because the majority of the membership had experienced it first hand.

"There are other women in the organisation going through what you are going through, they know how you are feeling and that is quite a connection," she said.

"When you are in a rural enterprise you know there are ups and downs, you know there will be good and bad times. The CWA is an organisation where you can share the good and the bad times and have the support of people who understand what you are going through. .

"When women get together they talk and unburden, probably more readily than a group of men would."

CWA Macquarie Group president Karen McHale agreed the friendships the CWA fostered were particularly important.

"It really does create an incredible support network," she said.

"When I am travelling our region visiting branches, I will often see a woman a bit quiet, a bit down, so we will put the kettle on and just talk, it relieves them a little bit of the worry."

Mrs McHale said women shouldered a significant burden of stress through drought, not only stemming directly from the farming business, but also in supporting the other family members.

"Often we are trying to lighten the load at home a bit, and that is hard," she said.

"The friendship of the women in the CWA offers some respite."

Baradine drought pantry

Since its doors opened in July 2018, the Baradine CWA Drought Aid Pantry has supported over 130 farming families.

What started as a 'pop up' to distribute groceries donated by charities, became a permanent fixture as donations continued to pour in from across NSW.

Open to farmers seven days a week, the pantry acts as a free shop, staffed wholly by volunteers from the small community.

The pantry stocks basic necessities with shoppers being able to choose what they need. This then frees up the family budget to purchase other necessary items at the local IGA.

Cash donations are converted into town shopping vouchers, to support local businesses.

Celebrating our farming women

Outback Arts and the Country Women's Association Coonamble Evening Branch have been overwhelmed with photographs celebrating women's resilience on farm, following a call for the inaugural 'Grit and Grace' photography award.

The award will be presented on National Ag Day by photographer Edwina Robertson, known for her work documenting the lives of farming families.

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