Scone & District Branch highlights the changing face of families in the bush as part of CWA AWARENESS in NSW

THE Country Women’s Association of NSW’s Scone branch has launched its annual Awareness Week campaign, this year raising awareness of some of the many challenges faced by families living in rural and regional NSW.

The local branch will highlight CWA AWARENESS at the end of the month, September 29, with a luncheon. 

Scone & District president Lyn Tout says the structure of, and, demands placed on families today has shifted significantly in recent years, and now more than ever families of all shapes and sizes need more support.

“We have chosen to raise awareness of the changing face of families in the bush this year because as women who have raised, been part of or supported families ourselves, we’ve observed just how much day-to-day life has changed in recent years, and what this means for families in terms of new or added pressures,” she said.

The 2017 campaign focuses on four key areas – the rights of grandparents as primary carers of their grandchildren; encouraging and assisting rural and regional women in starting their own small business; advocating for greater financial literacy among rural and regional women; and building resilience amongst teenage girls in rural and regional NSW.

According to a study by the Australian Psychological Society in 2014, financial issues and family issues remain the leading causes of stress among Australians.

“We’ve chosen these four areas as key in helping families and women, both young and old, navigate and enjoy life in the 21st century,” Mrs Tout said.

“Specifically, we are calling on grandparents as carers of grandchildren to be recognised as a family, rather than foster carers, and for changes to out-of-home care provisions for children being cared for by grandparents.”

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, in 2009-10, there were 16,000 grandparent families in which the grandparents were guardians or main carers of resident children aged 0 to 17 years, but it is likely the real numbers are much higher than this due to informal arrangements.

“Caring for a child in your later years is very rewarding, but also challenging, and we are calling on legislative changes to simplify and streamline the administration behind this family unit,” Mrs Tout said.

The CWA of NSW is also partnering with a variety of organisations to encourage women to take up the challenge of starting their own small business, and also equip themselves and their families for a successful financial future.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows women make up 34 per cent of all small business operators (668,670 women). 

This represents a 46 per cent increase during the past two decades.

However, according to recent research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, almost a third of regional Australian women reported that they worry about money “weekly” and 28 per cent worried about money “daily”.

Those living remotely worried more frequently about money than those living regionally. 

Lone parents (40%) were significantly more likely to worry about money than other household types.

“Our focus is to help deliver resources and support to women to enable them to launch a small business if it’s something they’ve always thought about but never had the confidence to give it a try, as well as bridging the gap when it comes to personal and family financial management,” Mrs Tout said.

Future female entrepreneurs, managers, volunteers and mothers are also a focus this year, with teenage girls found to be more than twice as likely as boys to be in severe psychological distress, according to a recent Mission Australia report.

“We are encouraging the formation of new branches around the state that cater to the needs of younger members, as well as inviting teenage girls in the community to connect with our senior members for mentoring support,” Mrs Tout said.

“For many decades the CWA of NSW has been lobbying the state government and industry bodies to ensure the right decisions are made for our state. 

“All of this year’s Awareness Week key areas resonate strongly with our members, because they are central to what we do – improving the lives of women and children in regional and rural NSW.’

As part of CWA of NSW Awareness Week, the Scone & District Branch will host a luncheon at The Sporties Club in Aberdeen Street, Scone, on September 29, at a cost of $25 per head for a two-course meal, tea and coffee. 

The function begins 11am for an 11.30am start.

The guest speakers are from the NSW Department of Fair Trading, with information on Money Stuff, Knowing your Shopping Rights and Being Scam Aware; and the National Broadband Network with material on Scone and the NBN.

Local women interested in joining the Scone & District Branch of the CWA of NSW can contact secretary Carolyn on 0412 468 308 or carterredbank47@gmail.com

The meetings cater for a wide scope of interests, including handicraft, the study of interesting countries, agricultural sectors, specific environmental interests, cookery and, of course, from time to time, tea and scones, to just name a few.