By Stephanie Stanhope, Bega
As featured in the 2019 Country Web Annual
The role of President of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW is not a role you do alone. It is done with the input and support of the members of this association, and especially with the support of my family.
I have been a member of the CWA of NSW for 13 years. I encourage all women to become involved with the CWA – it has given me a network of support, camaraderie, and new horizons. To get involved, head to the CWA of NSW website to join online, and get your local branch details.
Living on a property out of town I know the daily challenges that can make life a little harder and I look forward to the opportunity my new role provides in speaking up for our members and representing their interests to policy-makers at all levels.
I am really focused on issues faced by women living in country NSW, like social isolation, financial strain, and access to health services.
I have four living children, three sons and a daughter, as well as a daughter who was stillborn but who is still an important part of my family. I also have two adorable, toddling grandsons. As the youngest of 10 siblings I am grateful for the ongoing support from my older brothers and sisters, who continue to encourage their baby sister with all of my pursuits; although unfortunately we have lost two of these siblings in the last 12 months. I know I would not have obtained or be able to sustain this role without their ongoing support.
I live in the beautiful Bega Valley in South East NSW. My ex-husband and I owned and operated a three hundred cow dairy supplying the Bega Cheese factory. The business survived droughts, floods and the deregulation of the dairy industry. After the sale of the business in 2002, I now live on a small portion of what was our farm.
Some of my experience includes serving on the catchment management board, the dairy industry development board, as well as holding positions at group and state level of the CWA of NSW. I am an avid knitter, and cook for competitions.
Rural industries are the backbone of regional and remote NSW. They support the surrounding communities as well as comprising a major part of our export market. As drought conditions continue to worsen across NSW we need to find solutions to support and address the hardships primary producers are facing, and also those of rural businesses that are not primary producers.
At the moment, drought would be the major issue CWA NSW are dealing with. And with drought goes water. Prioritisation of water is critical for human needs, and regional water users in terms of both water supply and water quality should be afforded the same standards as metropolitan residents. There also needs to be a more transparent balance between social, economic and environmental factors in water management. With the ongoing pressures of drought and water, rural communities need help now more than ever, especially in terms mental well-being and health services. Access to health services clearly remains sub-par in rural remote regional NSW.
The most important thing that I have learned in my life so far is – you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.
t: 02 8337 0200