THE Country Women Association’s NSW branch president Tanya Cameron paid a visit to the Far South Coast this week.
Accompanied by group president Mary Williams, Ms Cameron has been visiting the 10 branches in the Far South Coast Group which stretches from Eden to Batemans Bay.
On Wednesday she had lunch at the Bega branch of the CWA and met with members including Bega president Daphne Sweeney and secretary Margaret Warren.
“It’s interesting to meet people from all the branches because each branch has such a different dynamic,” she said.
Ms Cameron’s home town is Rowena, 133km west of Narrabri, where she and her husband run beef cattle.
She joined the CWA over 25 years ago as a young mum at her mother-in-law’s urging.
“I was doubtful, my own mother had referred to it as the ‘cranky women’s association’ and I thought it was just for older people.
“However, that’s not the case and I quickly discovered it’s really there to support and encourage women of all ages in rural communities.”
She is acutely aware of the serious issues that face rural women and their families – drought, financial pressures and isolation to name a few – and believes the CWA should be a vehicle not only to support them but to effect change.
Before becoming president, Ms Cameron was on the CWA NSW executive for six years and held several positions including that of state environmental and agriculture officer.
“I believe very strongly in being an advocate for those in agricultural industries,” she said.
Ms Cameron recently met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he toured drought-stricken areas of north-west NSW, commenting on the CWA NSW blog she hoped "following Mr Abbott's visit and face-to-face discussions with farmers and community members, the ‘package’ of promised measures will be adequate and swiftly rolled out."
She believes her greatest challenge as NSW president is to “alter the perception of what the CWA is”.
“There is the idea, just like I used to have, that it’s something you do in your retirement.
“Of course there are older members, and they are vital to the organisation, but the CWA is actually whatever you bring it to at any age.
“It is about friendship and support, it is about cooking and handicrafts, but it’s also about advocacy and encouraging rural women to become involved in their communities.
“The CWA is not about the past, it’s an organisation with a future.”