As featured in The Country Web Number 59 Spring 2013 edition.
Part of the largest voluntary women’s organisation in Australia, The Country Women’s Association of New South Wale (CWA of NSW) is a not-for-profit association formed in 1922.
CWA of NSW works to support and improve the conditions and welfare of all women and their families in country and city regions through representation to all levels of government, fundraising events and the teaching of life skills.
In May of this year the CWA appointment of its new State President, Tanya Cameron. Based near Rowena, Tanya grew up around Moree and in addition to working with the CWA Tanya has been heavily involved with local community groups such as the Progress Association, School Council and is the current secretary of the Rowena Precinct Committee.
In her CWA career, Tanya has held office at every level and has represented the Association on Health Network and WorkCover Farm Safety Field Days. Although much has been achieved by the CWA during her 27 years of involvement, Tanya feels there are still issues that need to be addressed.
She aims to approach these challenges with creative thinking, an open mind and frank discussion,while importantly, maintaining the CWA’s heritage, values and reputation. Both Tanya and the members are passionate about rural Australia and are hoping to engender interest in younger move forward. Tanya believes women play an important role in the agricultural industry and she hopes she can continue to support the work of women across the state.
For Tanya, the importance of the CWA is its voice to government and the platform it offers to lobby for country people. She believes that a lot of progress has been made in the past few years in modernising the association’s processes, but not necessarily their image or how the CWA approaches things, because sometimes that’s where the respect for CWA comes from—their ‘sensible’ approach. The CWA makes its points by using personal stories to show how policies affect people.
RWN wanted to find out a little more about Tanya and the factors that have influenced her in becoming the inspirational woman she is today.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
The first six or seven years of my life were spent on a property School was one classroom, one teacher and one bus, which the parents took turns driving. The bus run was east and west of the school and one week those on the west side would be picked up and dropped off first and vice versa for the east side the next week. Then he drew a block south of Moree, I can still remember listening to the radio on top of the refrigerator when the announcement was made and how excited my parents were.
We built a house and moved there in 1967 and I left the one class, one teacher school for much larger surroundings in Moree until Yr 9, when I went to the New England Girls School (NEGS) in Armidale to complete my schooling.
As of May this year my role has been President of The Country Women’s Association of NSW and it has been a huge learning curve as well as a very busy time. I have not held a position at state level for a few years and have had to play a bit of catch-up. Part of the ‘job’ is visiting the members in their branches and groups and I am looking forward to embarking on my first tour next week. Touring involves meeting members and listening to their concerns and local issues; a State President cannot truly represent her members unless she knows their circumstances.
I am also looking forward to representing those same members when we voice their concerns to government, participate in consultations or make submissions as well as the myriad of other activities we are involved in.
WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE?
I don’t think I could risk singling them out, but most have been strong, independent women that I have met during my time in CWA. They have taught me to believe in myself, to never give up, to challenge and question, to try to stay calm and most of all to laugh.
HOW HAVE THEY INFLUENCED YOU IN LATER LIFE?
Their counsel, support, encouragement and friendship has most definitely influenced the person I am now. When I was younger I was quite self-absorbed and not very sure of myself and what I could do. I wouldn’t say I am an overly confident person now, but I am more inclined to at least ‘have a go’ than I was before. Being involved with CWA and having the opportunity to meet, listen, work with and get to know these women has put me in positions that I never thought I would be in and it have made me a stronger person.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST LESSON/ BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM THESE WOMEN?
That everyone benefits from words of encouragement, that you need to learn to laugh at yourself, that you should seek your own answers and that the person doing the most menial job is the one who knows exactly what is going on.
WHAT ADVICE YOU WOULD PASS ON TO OTHER WOMEN?
Be yourself, that way you can’t be caught out. I’m not much into quotes, but I like the saying ‘life is short, dance naked’! Not that I’d take it literally, but it’s like the
universe saying don’t pass up an opportunity to flash what you have!