It all starts with tea and scones for CWA North Coast
THE Country Women's Association over the years has tried to move away from the 'tea and scones' stereotype, but CWA North Coast group president Leonie Fish has a different opinion.
She thinks the organisation should be proud of that image.
"We often hear that (CWA) is not all tea and scones, but I think that tea and scones mean hospitality, and that means discussion," she said.
"And where do a lot of the world's problems get solved? Around the table."
Yesterday, guests and two delegates from each of the 15 North Coast CWA branches met at the Chatsworth Island Hall for a day meeting to connect with each other and the organisation at state level.
Areas of discussion included agriculture and environment, cooking, handicrafts, and more pressing issues of domestic violence and suicide.
"Domestic violence of course has been quite a big issue, and suicide, in youth and the farming community," Ms Fish said.
"Everywhere seems to have those problems."
One area where local CWA members have already worked to make a difference in recent months is surf awareness, with the Yamba branch last year being successful in getting a motion to lobby for surf awareness videos to be played on all flights into Australia adopted by the state branch last year.
"And in health, just making sure that people are getting a fair go," Ms Fish said.
"We've had one woman who started a motion to make nurse to patient ratios the same in the country as in the cities."
That woman was former nurse and Grafton branch member Carol Smith.
Having worked at Sydney's Prince Henry Hospital she wasn't aware of the challenges that nurses in rural or remote areas faced until more recently.
It spurred her to campaign for better conditions and after debates at two annual CWA conferences, her motion was passed.
"The cities hospitals can get the staff, but we can't," she said.
"What swung the debate was a nurse from Community Health in a remote rural area.
"Other nurses were opposed saying the hospitals will close because of all the extra money it will cost to pay them. This woman stood up and said governments close hospitals, not nurses.
"If you've got a problem with your hospital in a rural area, then you form a committee and rally."
State executive representative for the North Coast Trish Stabback said the two motions were the first by Clarence Valley branches to be passed at state conference in a while.
"After these things have passed it becomes our policy, so... our CEO would write a letter to the relevant department," she said.
"We got RBT happening, we got the white lines along the side of the road, so we do get things done.
"I pity the poor government that doesn't listen to 10,000 women."