Country Women's Association in Tasmania

The CWA shows the flag at the Huon Valley Apple Festival, 1950 (AOT, PH30/1/1324/5)

The Country Women's Association in Tasmania (Inc) began in 1936, when the first branch was opened at a meeting in Launceston Town Hall, convened by Lady Clark, the wife of the governor. In the next eighteen months, 18 branches were formed, with a membership of 550. Membership peaked at 6000 around 1954 in 203 branches.

Handcraft and Home Industries Committees encouraged participation in agricultural shows, exhibitions and displays and Choral and Drama Committees fostered music and drama. CWA shops opened in Hobart and Launceston and holiday homes and rural halls were acquired. Working with local councils, branches established and maintained Child Health Centres in country areas until the Health Department restructured the operation. Rest rooms were established in towns, providing areas for visiting doctors, clinic sisters and community services. The State Baby Box provides infant clothes for mothers in need and aids are provided for cancer sufferers, through the Cancer Council.

The war years of 19391945 saw outstanding work. Members raised funds, provided food parcels, made 27,000 camouflage nets for the armed forces, repaired army uniforms and were involved in the Women's Land Army. A Voluntary Aid Detachment held classes in first aid and home nursing around Tasmania. An ambulance was donated to the armed forces in the Pacific.

The Association has been involved with many issues affecting rural communities, including the provision of better education, health and telephone services. Among numerous matters addressed have been the placement of seat belts in cars; bubble packaging of medicines and recommending the installation of audible signals at traffic lights for the visually impaired.

Further reading: E Miles, Glimpses of gold, Hobart, 1987; CWA of Australia, Getting things done, Wynyard, 1986.

Patti Cosgrove, for CWA in Tasmania