The times demanded it when Bega's Stephanie Stanhope stepped down as CWA president last week.
She'd seen the CWA through drought, bushfires and a pandemic. It'd had been an emotional rollercoaster for her too with the loss of her house in the South Coast fires, and at the annual conference, as she handed over the baton, there were plenty of tears shed.
The new president is Joy Beames, from the NSW Central West, a position she will hold for the next three years. She'll inherit a vibrant CWA with diversity and change in the winds to make the 100 year old institution attractive to more women.
Stephanie in her closing speech to nearly 1000 delegates, asked 'What are the strengths of the CWA ?'.
Surprisingly to some she nominated "rules and regulations". "These have withstood the test of time," she said. "Most of all we have mentors within our association who are caring, exemplary, devoted and ready to help us. They are great role models who have the knowledge of our rules and regulations, of meeting procedures, the solid framework of our association" .
"The CWA is more than just an association, it is also a community with strong ethics and values that are founded on love, caring, mutual respect, compassion and forgiveness. These traits have been shown to me when I have shared personal stories regarding my experiences with domestic violence, suicide and natural disasters."
She said what was needed now was to temper the focus on individual achievements with a call to build community, based on love, compassion and service.
She said the CWA must stand by its history but also accept change to reflect modern times. One of the future debates will be whether the CWA state motto is outdated with references to the monarchy and God.
The CWA had a good blueprint for the future, but it needed to be adjusted to the current environment.
"Where is our future framework from the blueprint? Do we have the builders, our leaders, who are committed to the goals of the organisation? Are they good role models and mentors for our newer members, our apprentices so to speak, or only interested in self advancement ? Let us reinforce the values and traditions that we have inherited, whilst adapting to new situations."
The announcement of a new president was made at the CWA of NSW's Centenary State Conference fter voting among the hundreds of delegates. Joy Beames has been a member of the Dunedoo CWA Branch for the past 30 years, where she's held a range of executive positions, and has also held numerous executive roles at the Group and State level.
She was honoured to take on the role of NSW president.
"It's such a privilege to be taking the association into its next 100 years of advocacy and support for rural and regional NSW and, alongside our members, I look forward to continuing the hard work that has been a hallmark of our association throughout its first century," Joy said.
"Access to health services, social isolation, adequate provision of secure housing, protection of valuable farmland and the rights of farmers, and environmental challenges are among the issues that impact all our branch communities - country and city - and will be a priority for our association into the future. I look forward to the opportunity my new role provides in speaking up for our members right across NSW and representing their interests to policy-makers at all levels."
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