Busy young women in Western Australia’s East Kimberley have created a new branch of the Country Women’s Association, bringing fresh ideas to the nation’s largest women’s organisation.

Story By Felicity Brown

Mention the Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWA) and images come to mind of women the age of our mothers and grandmothers wearing aprons and cooking scones for local events. But the Ord Valley CWA in Western Australia’s East Kimberley region is a very different story. For a start, Suzi Silvester was just 24 when she approached the CWA’s Perth head office about starting a branch. That was in 2008 and in the following year the Ord Valley branch was officially formed with Suzi as president, Maria Chan, 32, as vice-president, Penny Goldsmith, 27, as secretary and Taneille Anderson, 24, as treasurer.

It started with a group of friends that would get together for a wine and a chat after playing netball. They would often laugh at themselves, saying they were just like the CWA … and so, they started a branch. In the beginning they had 12 members and their main focus was to build up a surplus of funds, which they now use to support the community. The first 18 months, however, was spent purely fundraising. “We made a gazillion chicken kebabs that first year,” says Taneille, who is now the group’s publicity coordinator.

Today’s president is 26-year-old Katie Innes who was born and bred in Kununurra, WA. Her family’s farm was one of the Ord Valley’s original horticultural properties. “Growing up in the fields was the best time of my life and I always wanted to give back to the community,” she says.

Her team includes a vice-president, social coordinator, publicity coordinator, secretary, treasurer, 16 official members and a mailing list with an additional 65 women. As well as official registrations, the branch enjoys a large amount of volunteer support. “Members that don’t have time to commit will always help out on the night,” Katie says. “And we are always amazed at the amount of volunteers.” With excitement, she says that many dynamic women have recently approached her wanting to get involved, including corporate workers, mothers, station owners and business holders.

If you want a job done, just ask a busy person. It’s a saying that rings true with the young, energetic and dedicated women already on the committee, whose professions include site operations assistant, department manager, office manager, dentist, agronomy research officer and small-business owner. Their out-of-work hours are just as busy with individual involvement in local events and clubs.

This story excerpt is from Issue #78

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2011