BASS Coast youth experiencing mental health issues will benefit from months of hard work from Wonthaggi’s CWA ladies, who’ve pooled their talents to raise funds for the local headspace service.
Members of the newly established Wonthaggi CWA (Country Women’s Association) branch made $400 selling homemade produce through their first ever farmers market stall late last year, and recently presented these funds to headspace Wonthaggi’s centre manager, to be put towards computer equipment.
Wonthaggi CWA president Marg Hauser said the group was inspired to make headspace their fundraising focus for 12 months after hearing a presentation about the services they provide and the sorts of issues they respond to.
Members immediately began collecting small items such as snack foods and personal hygiene products to donate to the Wonthaggi centre, as well as brainstorming other ways to help out.
“A number of our members had been concerned for some time about the need for youth services in the area, and were very pleased to find headspace had opened a local centre,” Marg said.
With COVID-19 restrictions ruling out social gatherings for the time being, the Wonthaggi CWA branch has begun conducting its monthly twilight meetings, usually held at Wonthaggi RSL, via video conferencing.
Headspace has also adapted its services in response to social distancing requirements, with phone and video calls being offered in place of face to face appointments.
Referral forms can be accessed via www.headspace.org.au/wonthaggi or by phoning 5671 5900, while resources and support developed specifically in response to the challenges of COVID-19 can be accessed via the national website: www.headspace.org.au.
Wonthaggi CWA welcomes new members, and enquiries can be sent to cwaofvic.wonthaggi@gmail.com or via the Facebook page.

CWA Wonthaggi members, who call themselves the ‘Owl Women,’ raised funds for headspace through a stall at the December 2019 Rotary Market in Apex Park.

Still serving, despite limitations

CWA branches across South Gippsland and Bass Coast are doing as much as they can to serve their communities within the limitations of COVID-19, said state president and Meeniyan CWA member Marion Dewar.
With activities such as monthly meetings, market stalls, and group exhibitions not currently possible in their regular form, several branches, including the Leongatha Twilights, have transitioned to virtual gatherings via video conferencing apps.
Branches across the state have been finding new ways to get their art, craft and cooking out there to sell, while minimising health risks to members and the wider community, Marion said.
Examples include a Mildura branch selling handknitted beanies through their local pharmacy, and a drive through ‘pop up shop’ at CWA Victoria’s Toorak headquarters.
Some branches have been more proactive than others, conducting letterbox drops and doorstop deliveries of biscuits and scones, but all are at least regularly checking in with their members over the phone, Marion said.
“No branches are able to hold meetings because either their meeting rooms aren’t big enough for social distancing, or their local councils have closed the town halls, but most branches are trying to do something once a month,” she said.
“We’re at least looking after each other, reaching out and keeping in contact.”
Marion herself has been putting out weekly email and website updates including news and photos from various branches.
She looks forward to the reopening of farmers’ markets including at Coal Creek, and encourages all CWA Victoria members to continue working on cooking and craft projects to be sold as part of fundraising efforts post COVID-19.
“I’m hoping they’re all keeping busy making things, doing extra preserving that we can sell later on, because the fundraising shortfall is significant.
“It would be nice if the farmers’ markets came back, because that’s where we connect with the community. For now, we’re helping the community in a limited way.”