A LOT has changed in Women in Agriculture and Business groups in the 100 years they have been around, but one thing that has not changed is its relevance to the community.
When the Charlton group formed in 1950 as a branch of the men’s agricultural association it was an opportunity for women to learn more about farm work and practice and attend social gatherings.
Charlton Women in Agriculture and Business president Phyllis Myers said for women who were not from farming backgrounds and married farmers, the group was about education, teaching them things like how to milk a cow.
Mrs Myers said the group underwent a name change from the Women’s Agricultural Bureau to Women in Agriculture and Business as a reflection of how women’s roles in agriculture had changed.
She said the Charlton group changed its name sometime in the 1990s as women became more involved and started taking on book work for farming enterprises.
Mrs Myers said the group was also involved in fundraising these days and selected one charity a year to support.
She said the group always chose to fundraise where a group would benefit and recently there had been a focus on helping local groups.
Mrs Myers said a huge milestone for the Charlton WAB was hosting the state conference last year.
“It was a fantastic success, we had people from all over the state come together,” she said.
“We also had quite a few men in the crowd, which a lot of people didn’t expect.”
Women in Agriculture and Business member Lee Russell said men had become a part of the group and often attended the group’s outings.
She said what most people did not know about WAB groups was that they were lobbyists.
Mrs Russell said they represented rural women and communities on issues of concern at a grassroots level and had lobbied on issues including fracking, biodiversity and agricultural land being used for housing.
She said recently Charlton WAB had more of an agriculture focus again, which included all aspects of farming including vineyards and olive groves.
“I think one of the best things about being a part of the group is that it gives you opportunities that wouldn’t get if you were just one person,” she said.
“We have had the opportunity to look around farms, one of our visits was to the Cummins Mill and they are things we wouldn’t have been able to do unless we were part of this group.”