THE Country Women's Association of WA (CWA) will hold its 95th State Conference from Monday, July 22, to Wednesday, July 24, at the International on the Water, Ascot.
WA State president Heather Allen said anywhere between 200 and 300 members were expected to attend the conference, which would determine any issues to be raised with the State or Federal governments.
This year's conference will include a panel discussion on the health issues facing people living in rural areas, with CWA members wanting equal services to be provided to those living in larger regional towns to those in the city.
"We are dealing with all sorts of health issues for those living in the country," Ms Allen said.
"Many get treated in Perth and are told their local hospital can help them, only to be told no once they get back to their small rural community.
"It then involves another trip to Perth and more expense.
"At the moment some people are having to travel long distances because their hospitals or operating rooms have been closed.
"This is not satisfactory for people living in rural areas.
"At our independent health forum, country people will be able to put their issues forward to be answered."
Another focus for the organisation going forward this year is improving road safety, particularly for overseas visitors.
CWA is considering making recommendations to Main Roads and local Shires to paint arrows spasmodically on rural roads to remind drivers which side of the road they need to be driving on.
"Many rural roads are quite safe, but driver education needs to be worked on," Ms Allen said.
At the conference CWA members will also deliberate whether they will request a review of government legislation to introduce tougher penalties for rural theft, damage and trespass.
This follows a review of The Nationals WA petition in relation to rural crime and the increasing acts of theft, damage and trespass being reported in rural and remote communities.
Ms Allen said some of their challenges over the past year included getting a meeting with Premier Mark McGowan on education cuts for rural areas and making sure those affected by drought received the fundraising raised by Coles.
"We did eventually meet the Premier though and we also made headway with the Coles fundraising being distributed to those in need," she said.
Ms Allen said the past 12 months have been busy and enjoyable, with a highlight being a delegation of the CWA travelling to Melbourne, Victoria, to attend the Associated Country Women of the World conference.
"Over 600 women attended from over 70 countries," she said.
Ms Allen said they have also continued with their dental, medical and the CWA/Commercial Travellers' Association Henderson field scholarships for rural nurses which had been very successful.
She said there was still a misconception by the wider public that the CWA only worked in the rural areas of WA or rural Australia.
"The CWA of WA is important in rural WA, but also the metro area, and we deal with a wide range of issues that face families from both the city and country.
"Our branches in both metropolitan and rural areas provide community service, support networks, welfare, educational and social opportunities -I don't think the wider public realise how much CWA volunteers do in the community.
"The CWA of WA also has representatives on the Council on the Ageing, Rural and Remote Education Advisory council, State Welfare Emergency committee, Worksafe Agricultural Industry Safety Group, BreastScreen WA consumer reference group and the Agribusiness Industry Advisory committee."
Since the first branch was established in WA in 1924 in Nungarin, WA membership numbers have varied, but are currently at more than 2000 members and there are almost 140 branches throughout the State.
Ms Allen said the CWA welcomed women from every walks of life and of all ages, with their members ranging from 18 to 100 years old, from all denominations.
"If there is someone out there feeling like they have time to contribute or are feeling lonely and need to join a group/branch please phone our State office on 9321 6041 or go to our website cwaofwa.asn.au.
"The CWA of WA is also currently putting plans in place for our 100 years celebrations as we are in our 95th year now."