The Country Women’s Association of NSW membership is our greatest asset and we are totally focused on listening to our members and the communities they represent.
What sets your company apart from others in your sector?
We see it as our responsibility to advocate on their behalf on the issues they see as most important when it comes to improving the quality of life for regional and rural Australians, and strengthening the foundations of their communities.
How will ag tech and big data change the skills base needed in rural and regional areas?
Technology is already changing the nature of occupations across these regions, with computer literacy now more of a requirement than an optional extra in the ag sector.
Agriculture has traditionally been a very labour-intensive occupation, but that is slowly changing as technology continues to advance and with it the jobs that have underpinned the industry for generations.
How do you envision such new technology applying to the rural sector?
Ag tech and big data are providing farmers with the type of detailed information they’ve never had access to before.
It’s changing the way producers make decisions around the running of their business, with the potential to remove some of the uncertainty that has always plagued the ag sector.
That said, there is a huge barrier in Australia in relation to the quality and spread of adequate mobile and internet coverage.
We can do better in a first-world country like ours.
What do rural communities need to do, or can do, to adapt?
Informed and progressive community leaders will be one of the keys to helping these communities not only adapt, but thrive, in the face of such sweeping change –speaking out and reassuring their communities that while some jobs may well disappear in years to come, the potential is there for many new ones to take their place.
Leaders need to be reassuring their communities that while some jobs may well disappear in years to come, the potential is there for many new ones to take their place.
These community leaders must also continue advocating for better telecommunication services for their towns and cities in order to take full advantage of this new face of Australian agriculture.
How can businesses encourage the uptake of new technology in rural and regional Australia?
The dissemination of reliable information is vital when any change occurs, and business can take a lead role in helping spread information that highlights the advantages of technological advances in agriculture, and stresses the opportunities for our rural and regional communities.
How can your business help grow towns or businesses in regional NSW?
Advocacy is one of the key roles of the CWA of NSW and we will continue to lobby government and decision-makers at all levels on the issues we see as key to growing stronger regional and rural communities.
Any other suggestions or success stories you wish to share?
Our education system has an enormous role to play as communities adapt to these changes, ensuring our children, teenagers and young adults are learning the skills they need to survive in a rapidly-changing world.
The CWA of NSW is committed to advocating for equitable access to educational resources for those living in regional, rural and remote areas.
It is so important that all children have access to opportunities that teach these skills and prepares our young people for the careers of tomorrow.
Do you have any initiatives to attract young people to your organisation or to reskill older workers?
The recruitment of young members has been a focus of the CWA of NSW for several years now.
We also concentrate very heavily on recruiting members from diverse backgrounds.
We encourage branches to meet at flexible times as well as look to technology to facilitate conversations and meetings.
In terms of reskilling older workers, perhaps the focus should be more on making employers aware of the already fantastic skill set that exists within our workforce of older people.
There is a real openness to reskilling on the employee side but we need to do more to encourage employers to think about employing older people.
Do you have any initiatives that tie in with the Armidale region? If so, please describe them.
Our organisation is putting the spotlight on the area in May when it holds its annual state conference in Armidale.
A raft of issues impacting regions like Armidale will be debated and potentially become the focus of CWA lobbying efforts.
By bringing them to the attention of our political leaders, there’s the potential for meaningful change at a local community level.