HEATHER Allen is set to be re-elected unopposed president when the Country Women’s Association of WA (CWA) kicks off its 94th State Conference at the Fremantle Sailing Club next Monday, July 23.
Ms Allen, Geraldton, has been at the helm of the time-honoured organisation for the past two years and is looking forward to her third and final year when her appointment is ratified at the conference that will run until Thursday, July 26.
A president can only serve for a maximum of three years.
Apart from the formalities Ms Allen said she keen to catch up with “old” and new members from all over the State.
Being the president she is across what most branches are doing but said it was a great chance to meet women who had joined the organisation over the past 12 months.
Ms Allen said the conference was a good opportunity from members from all walks of life to meet and get an understanding of how they supported their respective communities.
Several awards will be presented next Monday night, including the Clarice Ruddock Memorial Award that goes to the branch that has contributed in an exceptional manner to its local community.
Last year the award went to the Yarloop branch for its outstanding community service before, during and after the devastating fires that destroyed their CWA Hall in January 2016.
Despite the setback, Yarloop members were out helping others affected by the fire immediately afterwards.
Ms Allen has been assessing the nominations and said she was impressed by what some members and branches had done over the past 12 months.
The Young Volunteer award and community grant presentations will also be announced on the first day of the conference.
Ms Allen said she was impressed with an increased interest in the volunteer award.
An honour board that recognises the organisation’s past State treasurers will also be unveiled early on at the conference.
‘Embracing Diversity – Working as One’ is the theme that will be adopted at the conference and will be applicable across all branches for the next 12 months.
When thinking about diversity Ms Allen said many thought it was about different nationalities, but said “it’s not necessarily about that, it’s about all kinds of things”.
“Earlier this year we had those fires in Albany and everyone pitched in and we also had the 2016 fires in Yarloop where people pitched in as well,” Ms Allen said.
“Coming from a farming community, there are so many things you have to embrace and all work together when you stop and think about it.”
From a personal point of view Ms Allen is looking forward to hosting The Most Reverend Kay Goldsworthy who is the eighth Anglican Archbishop of Perth and in doing so, became the world’s first female Anglican archbishop.
Archbishop Goldsworthy will conduct the official opening and blessing on Monday night.
“I think that it will be rather special to have her at the conference,” Ms Allen said.
Various motions that have been put forward are expected to garner plenty of attention.
One centres around calling on Medicare to overturn a decision that precludes certain medical imaging tests from being done on the same day.
“If you live in the city you might not come across it but if you live in the country and have to drive long distances and not be able to do it all in the one day, it’s an issue,” she said.
Also on the agenda are plans to maintain Community Resource Centres and funding cuts for kindergartens if they don’t maintain a certain number of enrolments.
“I don’t think the kindy issue will affect city people so much, but it will affect rural kindys where they only have 10 kids and there is no chance to get 16 enrolments,” Ms Allen said.
The president said the establishment of new branches in rural and metropolitan areas augers well for CWA’s future.
Ms Allen said a lot of people were surprised to hear of the development of branches in the city, thinking membership to the iconic group was only reserved for women living in the country.
She said she was impressed with how much the new branches wanted to be part of their local communities and some even had the support of local government councils.
Coupled with an online branch, where women meet electronically and some of the younger members redoing the classic CWA Cookbook, the organisation’s future looks strong.
“And we have got our 100 year celebrations in six years,” Ms Allen said.
“We are working towards that and have a committee in place of dedicated women who are doing a 100-year history book.”