The Country Women’s Association of NSW is making a contribution to the way Australia eats that goes way beyond baking scones. The organisation has donated $105,000 to the University of Sydney to fund a scholarship for a PhD student investigating nutritional security and sustainability.
The scholarship will support a student working to develop sustainable ways of improving nutrition and health for women and children in NSW. Applications are open to those with a background in public health, nutrition, veterinary science, agriculture or allied health.
“We feel convinced that sustainable diets and food – how we produce it and how we use it – are important for the sustainability of the whole world,” said Robyn Alders, Professor of Food and Nutrition at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre. “We know that climate change is going to mean we no longer do agriculture as we’ve always done it. So coming up with a sustainable approach to how we feed and nourish ourselves is really important.”
The gift is in keeping with the CWA’s longstanding commitment to improving the lives of women and children, particularly those in regional and rural Australia.
“Among our members, there is an inherent interest in agriculture, but we’re also really focused on community, children and health outcomes,” said Danica Leys, Chief Executive Officer of the Country Women’s Association of NSW. “We’re not just looking at how to get more out of the paddock, but also at the health outcomes of how we produce food.”
We are pretty famous for our scones, but the real reason we came into existence was to stand up for women and children.
The scholarship is possible thanks to a bequest to the CWA from late member Edna Winifred Blackman. In her honour, it will be named the Country Women's Association of NSW and Edna Winifred Blackman Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
“We are really hopeful that it will give someone passionate about these issues the chance to pursue them and make a real difference,” said Leys.
Professor Alders, who will supervise the PhD student, said the ideal candidate would be interested in working with regional communities, “but also looking to join up what’s happening in regional communities with what’s happening in urban areas”.
Professor Alders lives near Taralga in the Southern Tablelands of NSW and is a member of her local CWA branch. “I was inspired to join in 2012 after witnessing the CWA’s savvy, non-partisan political manoeuvring in support of rural and regional communities,” she said.
While the organisation has a long history of advocacy and driving social change, it is perhaps still best known for its baked goods. “It’s not so much about fighting the scone stereotype as making sure we are telling the broader story,” said Leys. “We are pretty famous for our scones, but the real reason we came into existence was to stand up for women and children, and that’s still what we’re doing.”
Applications for the Country Women's Association of NSW and Edna Winifred Blackman Postgraduate Research Scholarship close on 13 April.