CWA looks to a new generation at 100

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Surfer Layne Beachley knows the Country Women's Association and the sporting world celebrate success a little differently.

"No one is going to put you on a podium in a bikini and spray you down with champagne," Beachley joked at the CWA conference in Sydney on Monday.

"But celebration is what motivated me. May you find your ways to celebrate and may it involve a lot of champagne, preferably in your mouth and not on your face."

In its 100th year, the NSW CWA has reason to revel.

The organisation, with the core value of improving the lives of women and children in rural areas, has spent recent years supporting communities through drought, fires, floods, a mouse plague and the pandemic.

Last week, it donated $500,000 to flood victims for household items, food hampers, and family outreach services, particularly for women experiencing domestic violence.

At its centenary conference this week, the association is looking to the future and how it can appeal to a new generation of rural women.

Members will vote on whether to advocate for climate change action, funding for women's refuges, improved sex education in schools, better endometriosis treatment, and greater access to women's healthcare in rural areas.

Beachley, a seven-time world champion surfer, opened the conference, describing how the highs and lows of a career in a male-dominated sport inspired her to elevate other women.

"Our actions today will echo beyond our time," she said.

"Be willing to plant a seed, water that seed, and grow a tree that you may never have the opportunity to sit under."

NSW governor Margaret Beazley praised the CWA for being a volunteer-led organisation of "doers".

She said creating a more diverse organisation will create challenges that ultimately become strengths.

"The recognition of diversity is not a panacea," Ms Beazley said.

"It doesn't mean much at all unless it's given its full effect so people feel welcomed, and different opinions are respected.

"It is inclusivity that is all important."

Through tears, outgoing president Stephanie Stanhope said members lived up to the association's values when they helped others in their times of need over the last three years.

"The CWA is more than just an association; it is a community of strong ethos and values that are founded on love, caring, mutual respect, compassion and forgiveness."

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