Unheralded 'army' fights battle for the bush

THE perception of the Country Women's Association being about craft sales or morning teas is shattered when you look at what their members were discussing last week.

The NSW branches of the CWA, including those from Cowra and surrounds, had everything from horse riding to raising the dole on their agenda for their annual conference in Albury.

The motions give an insight into how life in regional areas is not the simple existence that is imagined by many metropolitan dwellers.

There are, quite rightly, drought issues in the spotlight, but there are matters that reflect 21st century life in the bush beyond the farm gate.

Critically, health and aged-care struggles are accentuated in rural places. Motions in Albury highlighted the shortage of midwives and the need to employ more nurses, a push for trainee nurse staff in aged care homes, and the differences between prices charged by doctors.

The Table Top branch put a motion up on the cruelty of post mortems being done hundreds of kilometres away from where those people have died.

"Autopsies were previously done at a local hospital, but now most people whose deaths have been referred to a coroner are sent to Newcastle," its preamble stated.

"The change has delayed funerals by weeks." That is a situation which underlines a lack of care for families in grief.

CWA members supported a motion to raise the rate of the dole and were asked to look at encouraging a government safety campaign to alert motorists about the need to give horse riders a reasonable amount of space when passing them.

While most motions are related to NSW government issues, Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the forum on Tuesday.

The self-labelled city boy applauded what he called the CWA "army" and said his government was about preserving country life before reeling off a rural spending list.

The CWA's aggressive pursuit of its agenda with all political stakeholders will come as no surprise to Cowra residents, with our town and surrounding villages boasting a large and proud contingent of members.

At a time when many are questioning who will stand up for regional and rural communities in the corridors of power, the CWA have given us an answer.

And we should all be grateful for it.