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Positive association.

As demonstrated by the Flynnites Country Women's Association group, it's so important to share a meal and socialise with your neighbours.

Aug 22, 2022

Words: Gippslandia
Images: Supplied

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Growing up, dessert didn’t get baked in our house without a Country Women’s Association (CWA) cookbook. And, given the Old Man’s penchant for sweets, his 1976 edition of this Australian household staple was present on the kitchen bench – amidst the flour, eggs and milk – quite a bit.

When asked why he purchased the CWA cookbook all those years ago, he astutely replied, “With that many women producing recipes for it, it
can’t have any failures in there.” This faded, oranged, slightly dog-eared and well-thumbed spiral-bound number made all other cookbooks in the house obsolete (barring the Gippslandia cookbook, of course!).

...[they] raise an impressive kitty to contribute to projects such as drought or bushfire relief, loneliness in regional areas or assisting women, children and their families who are experiencing poverty.

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Even though they’re nearly at their 100th birthday, having been founded on 12 March 1928, the Country Women’s Association of Victoria is a vibrant, dynamic institution in our communities. Growing both in metropolitan and regional, today the organisation boasts approximately 5,000 members in their fold who are passionate about their role in supporting women, children and families right across the state.

CWA Victoria states that, “We cook, we craft and we advocate for change, while always remaining relevant.” It’s a purpose that may begin a little cutesy, but in reality, they are a cooking and crafting force!

For instance, their largest annual fundraiser, baking over 15,000 scones for the Royal Melbourne Show (an astounding number that they were bettering every year before the pandemic) raises an impressive kitty to contribute to projects such as drought or bushfire relief, loneliness in regional areas or assisting women, children and their families who are experiencing poverty. As Australia’s largest women’s association, theirs is an admirable contribution to positive change. For example, Victoria’s members provided $4.3 million in drought relief last year, and the charity of choice for 2022 is Free 3D Hands, a Newhaven-based charity that designs, manufactures and provides assistive devices to anyone with upper limb differences for free.

Of the 300 CWA groups in Victoria, 53 can be found in Gippsland. Flynnite and proud local CWA member Andrea Norton explained to us, “The branch activities differ depending upon member interests, demographics, networking and connections within the local community.”

Flynn, which sits on the boundary of the City of Latrobe and the Shire of Wellington, may be a small community in population, but it is mighty in spirit. It was hearing about their Community Wine Appreciation event that was the catalyst to learn more about the CWA for this edition.

On 1 February 1983, it was agreed that a ‘Community Awareness Day’ would be held at the local Flynn Hall for locals to come together and share in casseroles, an event backed by the CWA members. Fifteen days later, Ash Wednesday struck and the event was postponed until the end of July, when 90 people attended. The power of this event, a community coming together after a tragedy, is part of the reason why it became a much-anticipated occurrence for many years.

During 2013, the Flynn CWA went into recess due to insufficient members, but then in 2014 the Flynnites CWA night group commenced with the motivation to continue the Community Day tradition – to share a meal and socialise with your neighbours – and it has been continuing ever since; 38 years of celebrations and four generations of local members coming together and embracing the friendships formed through this dynamic collective.

It’s a sentiment that is echoed throughout Gippsland’s CWA branches.

But, there’s another layer to Flynn’s Community Awareness Day. Great grandmother and member Gwen Paulet mentioned that she’d love to see a story from their group published in the CWA magazine in her lifetime – she was shortly to turn 95. Well, Gwen got her wish, and although she passed away before reaching 96, of course, the CWA Flynnites were there in force to cater for Gwen’s wake.

A fitting tribute, and you just know where they found all the recipes for such an important event.

To learn more about the Country Women’s Association or to join your local branch, please visit

Gippslandia - Issue No. 23

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