Fresh faces bring new fu­ture

QCWA young bloods pre­pare the group to face the rapid changes of its sec­ond cen­tury

Central Queensland News - - READ - BY Althea Martell

MEET the fu­ture of the Queens­land Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion. They are young, smart pro­fes­sional women who live in ru­ral, re­mote and ur­ban Queens­land. They em­brace community ser­vice, per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and retro do­mes­tic arts.

This year brings the QCWA’s 95th an­niver­sary and the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s state ex­ec­u­tive board is un­der no il­lu­sion about where the fu­ture lies. It de­pends squarely on young women tak­ing up the man­tle – a man­tle pre­pared lov­ingly by gen­er­a­tions of women be­fore them.

In its hey­day the QCWA boasted more than 20,000 mem­bers mak­ing it one of the state’s most in­flu­en­tial and re­spected or­gan­i­sa­tions. But nat­u­ral at­tri­tion of up to 1000 per year re­duced mem­ber­ship to 4000 in 2016.

A po­ten­tial cri­sis was averted in the nick of time. Hun­dreds of happy, en­thu­si­as­tic 20–40-some­things are demon­strat­ing how to put a mod­ern spin on this much-loved or­gan­i­sa­tion. It’s their hard work that will take the QCWA into its 100th year and be­yond.

Poles apart ◗ NIKKI VER­RALL

◗ BRANCH PRES­I­DENT, BRIS­BANE CITY NIGHTS

◗ AR­CHI­TECT, PAS­SION­ATE COOK AND CHAM­PION POLE DANCER

When ar­chi­tect Nikki Ver­rall moved from her home in Dar­win to Mackay, she didn’t know any­one. Hav­ing grown up with cook­ing, crafts and community she de­cided to join the lo­cal QCWA branch and see what it was like.

“Sud­denly I had all th­ese amaz­ing sur­ro­gate aunts and grand­moth­ers,” she said. “It was good to have sup­port in the community out­side of work.

“You’re miss­ing out on a lot if you don’t have an older per­son in your life. You’re miss­ing out on knowl­edge and mem­o­ries from yes­ter­year.”

Nikki said the friend­ships and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment are high­lights of the or­gan­i­sa­tion for her.

“As a busi­ness owner I have found the QCWA is also great for net­work­ing. I have met so many in­ter­est­ing peo­ple at the state con­fer­ence and re­gional meet­ings. It takes you out­side your bub­ble,” she said.

Nikki said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not just about “old ladies and cook­ing”.

“Sure some of us love to cook but we do so much more than that in­clud­ing fundrais­ing, work­shops, lec­tures, train­ing and we par­tic­i­pate in a va­ri­ety of community events,” she said.

Em­brace changes ◗ RACHAEL HAR­TIKAINEN

◗ VICE PRES­I­DENT BRIS­BANE CITY NIGHTS BRANCH

◗ MAR­KET­ING PRO­FES­SIONAL, CRAFTER AND ARMY WIFE

As an em­ployee of the QCWA’s state of­fice in Bris­bane, Rachael de­cided to join her lo­cal branch and ex­pe­ri­ence the or­gan­i­sa­tion from a mem­ber’s per­spec­tive as well.

“I had also wanted to learn more craft skills be­cause I never had any­one to teach me,” she said. “Our branch of­fers a va­ri­ety of arts and crafts work­shops and I am now more in­spired and more con­fi­dent to have a go at new things.”

She said what she loved about the QCWA was the peo­ple in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“There’s al­ways some­thing to look for­ward to whether it’s a tour of state li­brary, a guest speaker or a work­shop we al­ways learn some­thing new,” Rachael said.

She said one chal­lenge that faced the QCWA was that the or­gan­i­sa­tion could be re­sis­tant to change.

“But change is in­evitable and there are lots of young mem­bers of­fer­ing skills and sug­ges­tions about how to man­age the tran­si­tion and em­brace new tech­nol­ogy – we just need to be heard,” Rachael said.

“QCWA’s orig­i­nal fo­cus was sup­port­ing women and chil­dren and I think it some­times loses that fo­cus as it tries to tackle broader is­sues. I would like to see QCWA com­mit to its val­ues, mis­sion and goals rather than try to be all things to all peo­ple.”

Young guns ◗ ARIELLE SIMP­SON, 19

◗ STATE LEADER, QCWA YOUNG LEAD­ERS, TI­NANA BRANCH,

NEAR MARY­BOR­OUGH

◗ UNIVER­SITY STU­DENT

Tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts are back in fash­ion and like many mil­len­ni­als Arielle Simp­son was keen to learn. She joined her lo­cal QCWA branch as a “young leader” which is a group for mem­bers aged 10–25. She forged won­der­ful friend­ships and has learnt life and lead­er­ship skills.

“I love the op­por­tu­nity to meet amaz­ing young women across the state,” Arielle said.

“Our an­nual camp in par­tic­u­lar has been a fan­tas­tic source of con­nec­tion. I have learnt lots of prac­ti­cal skills through Young Lead­ers such as cook­ing, sewing, book­keep­ing and chair­ing meet­ings – all in­valu­able as I con­tinue to gain in­de­pen­dence and build my ca­reer.”

Arielle said one of the big­gest chal­lenges for the or­gan­i­sa­tion was en­gag­ing more young women and in­creas­ing mem­ber­ship num­bers.

“There is a grow­ing need for community and per­sonal con­nec­tion in this in­creas­ingly tech­no­log­i­cal world and QCWA pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity for women across Queens­land to come to­gether in gen­uine friend­ship,” she said.

“The skills learnt through the or­gan­i­sa­tion, from cook­ing to hand­i­craft to ex­ec­u­tive pro­ce­dure, are es­sen­tial to thrive in this mod­ern, fast-paced world.”

PHOTOS: MAX FLEET, RICHARD WALKER, MARK NOR­MAN AND CON­TRIB­UTED

◗ QCWA Younger Set mem­bers Danielle Field, Danni-Elle Cur­son, Ashleigh Hick­man and Rachel Hay­wood take care of some cater­ing; from bot­tom left, Bris­bane City Nights QCWA branch vice pres­i­dent Rachael Har­tikainen, QCWA Bris­bane City Nights branch pres­i­dent Nikki Ver­rall is also a keen pole dancer, QCWA state young leader Arielle Simp­son, The QCWA of yes­ter­year when the ladies wore hats, gloves and furs to at­tend meet­ings.

PHOTO: RICHARD WALKER

◗ Bris­bane City Nights branch pres­i­dent Nikki Ver­rall gets af­ter­noon tea ready, with Bris­bane City Nights branch vice pres­i­dent Rachael Har­tikainen and QCWA state pres­i­dent Joy Coul­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.