This month the Country Women’s Association’s Hunter branches will join a national push aimed to improve digital connectivity in rural communities.
Few groups evoke a sense of Maitland pride like the yellow and blue clad ladies whose sausage rolls, lemon slice and scones are fixtures at community gatherings throughout the year.
But, for the members themselves, you don’t don the CWA apron just to perfect your pastry. The branch promotes active citizenship, forges friendships, even offers support to victims of homelessness, domestic violence and poverty through awareness and fundraising.
As Maitland’s June Gardner said with steely resolve, CWA stands for “Chicks With Attitude”.
September is the month CWA NSW holds its awareness week and, for Maitland’s branch, this means a Spring Fair and mini-garage sale on September 24 at their Church Street hall from 8.30am until 2pm.
The ladies are hoping to use the sale to direct attention toward the need for better digital infrastructure in the region and drum up membership from civic-minded Maitland women.
Maitland branch president Barbara Heckman said digital connectivity was crucial for the rural areas of the Hunter to keep pace with the rest of the World.
“Connectivity is about getting phone calls through in emergencies, it’s about helping children get their education,” she said.
“It’s also about the fact that, in the bush, farmers are paying much more than people in the city for coverage that often doesn’t work.”
Mrs Heckman said the club was trying to overcome the perception that they were just getting together to bake – though she admitted she loved winning the bake-offs.
“It opens your eyes to things,” she said, adding that the organisation is moving away from traditional meetings to social and civic activities.
Secretary Margaret Harvey reiterated the importance of the groups in community and personal life.
“We get together and express our views, you can bring things up and get others involved,” she said.