The Country Women’s Association

For women, through women and by women

Banding together with others with shared interests can amplify voices for change. The Country Women’s Association (CWA) seeks to improve the lives of women and children in regional and rural areas.

The first association was formed in New South Wales in 1922, and by the mid-1930s there were associations and branches across Australia.

CWA members understand that small changes can have a big impact. One of the first causes taken up by the New South Wales association was reduced train fares to the coast, so that rural families might afford a beach holiday. And in Queensland the Mirriwinni CWA succeeded in getting an International Women’s Year grant to pay for a fence around their hall. The fence protected children from straying onto the nearby road and railway line, meaning that more women could attend meetings.

Today the CWA lobbies on many issues: women’s health, education, domestic and family violence, and much else.

We are a great sisterhood of women and a democratic one, putting aside petty difficulties of position, wealth and pride. We are out to be a mutual help to one another.

– Ruth Beatrice Fairfax, first president Queensland CWA, 1922

'Community is everything': Deb Carrigan

Deb Carrigan is the President of the Babinda branch of the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA). Deb also owns a cattle farm at Mirriwinni, south of Cairns, teaches part-time in the local primary school and works as a marriage celebrant.

Deb’s passion for the QCWA drives her to create change in her community. Despite the Babinda branch only having a few members, Deb is committed to ensuring the future of the organisation and welcomes everyone and anyone.

She is proud of the fundraising work she has done through the QCWA, particularly for the Public Rural Crisis Fund, which supports Queensland farmers and their families through adversity.

This story is featured in National Archives's exhibition Disrupt, persist, invent: Australians in an ever-changing world