State CWA conference marks bond with UNE

Published 28 May 2008

ward_cwa.jpgThe Country Women’s Association of NSW has marked a long-standing relationship with the University of New England by inviting the Master of UNE’s Earle Page College, Mr David Ward, to officially open its 86th Annual General Conference.

Mr Ward said it had been a great honour to represent the University and the College at the conference, which was held earlier this month in Tweed Heads. The Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, opened last year’s conference, and the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, opened the conference in 2006.

For nearly 40 years Earle Page College has hosted the annual CWA Weekend Country of Study School – a major event supplemented by related activities in CWA branches throughout the State. The program and materials for the Country of Study School at UNE have been produced in various eras by Continuing Education, Earle Page College, and now the UNE Conference Company. Academic staff across the University have assisted with lectures and workshops over the years. In his role as College Master, Mr Ward invites the Ambassador or High Commissioner of the country being studied to be guest of honour at a formal dinner associated with the Study School – a dinner also attended by the Vice-Chancellor and the Armidale Dumaresq Mayor. This exposure to study at the University has encouraged many CWA members to enrol in distance education courses at UNE.

In his opening address to about 1,000 delegates at the Tweed Heads conference, Mr Ward (pictured here) said he had grown up in a small rural community near Orange, where the influence of the CWA had been “all-pervading”. His memories of that influence on him as a child included the annual “country of study” activities which, he said, had contributed to his “life-long interest in the countries of the world, their cultures, and their languages”. He recalled the picture books about the country being studied, compiled by CWA members, “all sitting in neat piles” on his grandmother’s coffee table, and noted that, as Master of Earle Page College, he now attended the CWA’s State International Meeting every year to present a prize to the club that had compiled the year’s best “country of study” book.

“The CWA branch in that community in which I grew up,” he said, “in common with branches around the State, continues to raise funds for needy projects locally and overseas, provide social support, and highlight issues affecting its community in order to bring about positive change.”

In an appreciative review of some of the CWA’s activities, Mr Ward mentioned its “contributions to the wonderful work of the Associated Country Women of the World international organisation”, its “environmental concerns”, and its “contributions to education” – one of those contributions to education being the sponsorship of scholarships at UNE. During UNE’s Scholarships Presentation Ceremony last week, the President of the Armidale Branch of the CWA, Ms Ruth Blanch, presented several scholarships (“Country Women’s Association of NSW / Earle Page College Equity Scholarships”) to residents of Earle Page College.

Mr Ward said these scholarships were “greatly appreciated”, and typified the fruitful relationship between the University and the CWA.