Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra

Paula and our local CWA branches are going strong

- By ANITA McPHERSON

A LOCAL network of Country Women’s Associatio­n branches and its new group president are continuing its hands-on service to the community.

For nearly 100 years the CWA has been working to advance the rights of women, families and communitie­s in Australia, especially for those living in regional, rural and remote Australia.

In this region there are nine active branches and Oxley resident Paula McGavin has just been installed as the group president of the North Eastern Group CWA of Victoria.

While Paula was active in her local community she only recently joined the CWA, helping to establish the Oxley and Milawa branch in 2019, guided by then group president, Wilma Bright.

Ten women initially signed up to be part of the Oxley and Milawa branch with Paula taking on the role of the inaugural branch secretary.

“The branch has been motoring along ever since, last year launching a huge campaign making masks for COVID and raising mega dollars - it was just unbelievab­le,” she said.

“It gave us a great kick-start to get money in that we can then get out to the community, which has been fantastic and is what it is all about.”

In April this year Paula decided to transfer to the Wangaratta branch and was voted in as the new group president, North Eastern Group, something she said she was happy to take on.

It makes use of her considerab­le experience in administra­tion, having spent many years as an executive assistant in tertiary education, law and funds management, before retirement.

“People are happy to be in a group but very few want to put their hand up for leadership roles,” Paula said.

“Taking on this sort of role requires a fair bit of administra­tion and it doesn’t faze me at all because that was my training.”

Paula said local branches are based in Barnawarth­a, Beechworth, Bright, Moyhu Evening, King Valley Evening, Oxley and Milawa, Rosewhite & District, Wangaratta District Evening and Whorouly, and each branch averages 10 to 18 members.

She is currently in the process of visiting them all - COVID regulation­s permitting - wanting to find out more about their different activities and interests.

Paula said while at the moment it’s a challenge to even hold meetings, all branches are involved in a wide variety of fundraisin­g activities and initiative­s which give back to their communitie­s.

Some are involved in cooking or craft and many offering catering services, making the most of their reputation for being good cooks.

A recent scone cook-off resulted in the Wangaratta community ordering both as individual­s and from a number of local businesses who bought them for their staff - an incredibly successful group fundraiser.

Paula said CWA members’ ages range from their mid-20s to mid-90s and all play a welcome and valuable role in their individual branches and at group level.

Members choose the efforts they want to support, such as helping fire-affected communitie­s, collecting essential goods for those in need and providing financial assistance to struggling families.

Members from the Oxley and Milawa branch are helping their community by volunteeri­ng their time to tutor local school children in need of some extra support.

“Our members are lively, they contribute, they’ve got ideas - they are amazing,” said Paula.

“We’re always on the lookout for people in our communitie­s that need some sort of assistance and we also have the facilities at state level to take care of families who are in a dire situation.”

On a personal level, Paula says it’s fun meeting different people and spending time with those who share an interest in helping others.

Paula will serve as president for a maximum of two years and her aim during this time is to encourage all the branches to work as a team and support each other.

She is also hoping to help boost membership and encourage younger people to get involved.

Anyone wanting to find out more about their local CWA or how to join a branch is welcome to contact Paula via email on cwanegroup@gmail.com or call 0417 367 359.

 ??  ?? NEW ROLE: Paula McGavin has been installed as the group president of the North Eastern Group CWA of Victoria.
NEW ROLE: Paula McGavin has been installed as the group president of the North Eastern Group CWA of Victoria.
 ?? PHOTO: Kieren Tilly ?? FRESHLY BAKED: Last year the North Eastern Group CWA of Victoria sold 110 dozens scones in the annual scone challenge, baked by volunteers including Wilma Bright.
PHOTO: Kieren Tilly FRESHLY BAKED: Last year the North Eastern Group CWA of Victoria sold 110 dozens scones in the annual scone challenge, baked by volunteers including Wilma Bright.

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