CWA members rally in country and city to lift spirits and initiate projects

Elaine Johnson
CWA State President Elaine Johnson

The Country Women’s Association of WA (CWA) has stepped up admirably amidst the current pandemic. Its members remaining in constant contact via videolink and sharing ideas, says new State president Elaine Johnson, of Quairading.

“The CWA is very busy at present, the door to head office might be closed, but staff have been operating from home with a few people coming in so we are still getting the job done, with videoconferencing to the fore.

“Members chat with the State president online each Friday morning. I have invited members to speak with me, share ideas, recipes and craft projects. That keeps me open to the members, and I have an informal fortnightly board meeting online for an hour, so everybody can chat about what they are thinking. There is a lot of work involved when you do things this way.”

Quairading based for the past 30 years, Elaine was elected State president last August. 

“I went to my first CWA meeting aged nine,” she said.

“An older sister, now deceased, was secretary of the Dumbleyung branch. I won a competition knitting a square with two toothpicks and others said it was foul play because I had small fingers.

“But I thought to myself that when I grew up I would become a CWA member.”

Elaine and her husband first settled in Quairading after buying a business in the area. “My husband is a former police officer and so was I in my younger days.

“The CWA has certainly kept me busy and active, especially since I was elected president last year; I was re- elected unopposed this year. (The annual State conference has been deferred from July to November.)  I’ve certainly improved my driving skills, perhaps I was hidden away in the country but driving backwards and forwards to Perth has kept me on the go.

“You have to be up and running, fully aware of what you are doing, which is a good thing. It’s life changing, invigorating, I am proud of our members and how they have helped with COVID-19. Many people rely on the CWA for friendship and the social aspects of their lives, especially those in isolated areas.

“They have done wonderful things to keep in contact with others such as writing on a card and sending it on to another member, playing telephone tag, phoning one member and passing it on, having Zoom meetings and picnics in the park. It’s an eye opener how members have coped.

“For ANZAC Day, members did wonderful things such as putting rosemary on their letter box or front door, making wreaths, meeting at the end of the driveway on their farms. Amazing things really.”

The CWA of WA has around 2200 members across 130 branches and Elaine says numbers are increasing. 

“Have your say and join CWA.”

“We have lots of younger members, some in the 30 plus age group and some even younger which is a good thing. That is what we have been aiming for. 

I have a catchphrase: “Have your say and join CWA. I try to encourage young people to think outside the square. If there is something in the community that affects women and children and families, have your say. Start off at branch level and the issue moves through the various levels of our organisation and it may become a motion if members feel it is important enough to proceed.

“If you look back to our founding members they had wonderful ideas about improving the lives of women, children and family and that has not changed. We are strongly opposed to domestic violence and we protect the rights of women and children, but we help with as many fathers with their problems with children… not all families have both parents there for them.”

Elaine says the West Perth headquarters in Hay Street is the third building the association has occupied in the area and there are no plans to move. 

“Our CEO has been working hard to ensure physical distancing is in place when staff return to work full-time but the front door won’t be open to the public.”

The CWA has embarked on a new partnership with the Road Safety Commission which will be a big boost for road safety messaging throughout WA. Elaine said both organisations can work together to promote road safety initiatives to help keep regional and metropolitan communities safe.

“The CWA of WA is keen to ensure international visitors keep to the left side of the road, especially on transport routes and we support progress to improve passing lanes of regional highways.”

The CWA of WA is forging ahead with many projects, especially in these challenging times.

If anyone would like to become a CWA member please contact State office on 9321 6041 or go to the website

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Josephine Allison started her career in journalism at 18 as a cadet on the Geraldton Guardian newspaper. She realised her ambition to work on a daily newspaper when she later joined The West Australian where she spent almost 34 years covering everything from police courts to parliament, general news, the arts and real estate. After moving on from The West, she worked on several government short-term media contracts and part-time at a newspaper in Midland before joining Have a Go News in 2012. These days she enjoys writing about interesting people from various fields, often unsung heroes who have helped make WA a better place.