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Country Women's Association of Chermside

Short History of the Chermside Branch

Queensland Country Women's Association
South Coast Division

Chermside Branch

Daphne Postle 3359 1824

What is to follow is a brief history of the Chermside Branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association, hereafter referred to as the Q.C.W.A.. The inaugural meeting of the Branch was held on the 7th day of February, 1961, in the hall of the Methodist Church on the corner of Gympie and Hamilton Roads, Chermside. 1961, now that was a period when there was a great influx of new residents to the area and amongst them were people of country origin, or folk with relatives, and/or friends, who were country dwellers. This being so, they would have had knowledge of the Q.C.W.A. and the benefits that group brought to many places in the "bush". Some of these new dwellers to Chermside used to meet, and at one such gathering the formation of a branch of the Q.C.W.A. was discussed. The suggestion gathered momentum and one of the originators of the idea was Mrs. E. Andrews, and she, along with others, spoke with neighbours in an effort to ascertain interest in the forming of a Chermside Branch. In hindsight they were overwhelmed by the response, and so the formation of a Branch of this great institution was inaugurated.

As noted earlier, the initial meeting of the new Branch was held on the 7th day of February, 1961, and was attended by 36 members, and was chaired by the Divisional President, Mrs. Ida Weddell. Election of Officers of the new Branch resulted in:-

President: - Mrs. E. Andrews.

Honorary Secretary: - Mrs. M. C. Johnson.

Honorary Treasurer: - Mrs. O'Connor.

Link Writer: - Mrs. C. Newman.

The first function to be held was a "Wog" Party, a sort of a "getting to know you" event.

Membership of the Branch steadily increased and the first International Day was held with 136 members in attendance. International Day is held on an annual basis and each year a Nation is nominated by the Head Office, and that country is the subject of study for the year by all members. This is a very popular event and the members are enthusiastic about the knowledge they absorb about the various countries. There have been times when the local Branch has been visited by persons from the country being studied, thus adding to the interest of such study.

The meetings of members are such that they entail discussion of wide and varied topics. They also partake in a variety of entertainment by members such as Mannequin Parades, Music and Drama in which all are welcome to take part. There are members who visit patients at The Prince Charles Hospital, an act which is greatly appreciated by patients and hospital staff as well. There are also others who visit the Women's Prison and instruct inmates on the intricacies of Handicrafts. An "Award for Community Service" and another for "Service in the Promotion of International Work" have been awarded to two members of the Chermside Branch. These help to exemplify some of the work done by members.

The move from the Hall was brought about by the increase made to the rental charges and in the early 1970's the venue of the meetings was changed to Youngman House, in Banfield Street. Functions were held in Uhl Hall. This was an ideal spot for, from time to time, and when functions were held, residents from Youngman House were invited to attend. It is impossible to nominate a full account of the activities of the Q.C.W.A., but many are the benefactors of work done by that organisation. There came a time in the late 1980's when it as necessary to vacate Youngman House as a meeting place. This was brought about by the fact that the property had been sold and the site became the "home" of the Australian Taxation Office building. The Uniting Church offered the Q.C.W.A. the John Wesley Garden's Hall at Geebung as a meeting place, a move that was gratefully accepted. The new meeting place was, by comparison to its previous sites, not so easily accessible, and this fact brought about a decline in the active membership of the Branch. The lessening in the number of members brought with it the problem of having difficulty in filling positions on the committees. The Chermside Branch of the Q.C.W.A. has had a very close relationship with the Chermside Garden Settlement during its 43 years of activities, and a VERY HAPPY RELATIONSHIP it has been. The Chermside Branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association is presently in recess, having chosen that path in June, 2004. There are a dozen or so members who now get together for social "meets" and hope the Branch will again become functional in all those activities which make the Q.C.W.A. one of the true benefactor Societies of Queensland.

Questions and Answers:
Was the group ageing? Yes Olive Blackmore adds that people did not want to take on the jobs of officers.
Were young women being attracted? Few young ones - joined the branch later on
Did women working outside the home affect membership? Don't really know hadn't thought of that - lots of country people in the city - more were coming .
Did you ever try adjusting the meeting time - such as at night? No, functions always held during the day - this would have effectively excluded the women who were in paid employment.
When was the membership at its peak? When the first International Day was held - .
Is there a National organisation? (Aust C W A) Is the membership growing or declining? State membership - young members in the country branches - over 10,000 members
Did the children of the founders join the Association? No Daphne Postle's daughters didn't join the branch - there were no younger sets operating.
Active in the country and in the city = nursing homes - used to have places for accommodation but the lodge has been sold - a lot of accommodation in the city but it has closed down now as we are waiting for Ruth Fairfax House at Gregory Terrace to be rebuilt
Olive joined because her mother came to Brisbane from the country and joined the CWA so Olive followed although she was living in the city.

Kedron, Windsor, Gordon Park, branches were all around - closed over the years - C'side was the last to close in the inner North side while branches further our such as Kalanga and Petrie are still going - active branch in the city with a younger set - Alice Berry branch meets at City Hall library but does not know where the Younger Set meets.

As the name implies, the organisation is basically country oriented and the branches in the cities depended for their membership on the country people coming to live in the city. Then as the local population aged the membership declined as their children found their social life in city organisations rather than joining the CWA Younger Set.

1961 was just at the beginning of a period of cultural and lifestyle change - a youth culture was growing with the Beetles, Elvis Presley, Rock and Roll, LP records,

Is it a case of an organisation no longer fulfilling its basic aims and gradually declining? The ex country people joined because the CWA was familiar and provided some stability in the new environment (city) but the children were city people.

People join Community Organisations because there is some benefit for them or they want to help others or both.

Membership from the History by Olive Blackmore & Mrs Betty Wells

1961- 39 members
1961 August - 138 attended but not all members (I think) on the first International Day
1963 December - 69
1964 - 90
1965 - 110
International Day about 1987 attended by 45 members and friends

Finished with about a dozen members

Did a great deal of charitable work over the years visiting the aged in Wheller Gardens and assisting with various projects to help the residents, helping country people who had to come to the city for various reasons, providing them with accommodation, raising considerable sums of money for charities, transcribing books into Braille,

Provided a social and educational function by having meetings which entertained as well as having speakers who informed the members of important social matters both locally and internationally.

Country Women's' Association - Northside Chronicle 9/6/2004 p.27
CWA under threat - could close after 43 years activity in Chermside. Dwindling membership - needed six members as a minimum number for a branch - Holding a Public Meeting to decide the future at John Wesley Garden Hall - Group meets once a month - phone 3126 1219

43rd Annual Report for year ending 30th June 2004
Membership of 28 (includes 10 in name only.)
Branch Officially closed on 30th June 2004 while the final meeting was on 15th June 2004

Entry for the History of Chermside

The Chermside branch was founded on 7th February 1961in the Methodist Church Hall at a time when there was a great influx of new residents to the area and amongst them were people of country origin, or folk with relatives and/or friends, who were country dwellers; membership rose to a peak of about 110 in about 1965.
The members met regularly to socialize, listen to speakers and organise charitable work along with fund raising for charitable causes. Activities included visiting the sick in hospital, the residents of Wheller Gardens, prisoners, assisting country people who have to come to the city for medical treatment, finding accommodation for country students and many other activities.
As the name implies, the organisation is basically country oriented and the branches in the cities depended for their membership on the country people coming to live in the city. Then as the local members aged the membership declined as their daughters found their social life in city organisations rather than joining the CWA Younger Set.
After 43 busy years with an aging membership of about 18 active members, unable to fill the official positions, the branch, finally closed on 30th June 2004.