New CWA leader at the helm

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CWA of WA’s new president Elaine Johnson.
Camera IconCWA of WA’s new president Elaine Johnson. Credit: Nic Ellis

There is a new president at the helm of the Country Women’s Association of WA, and for the first time in while, she’s not a farmer.

Not being a lady of the land is no hindrance for Elaine Johnson, who took the reins from Oglivie farmer Heather Allen at the CWA of WA’s 95th State Conference in Perth on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Allen was elected president in July 2016 and served her maximum three-year term as State president, telling members in her final address it had been an “exciting challenge” in her life.

Ms Johnson, a member of the Quairading branch, attended her first CWA meeting as an adult in about 1991, two years after she moved to town in 1989.

She was looking for friendship, purpose, and a way to contribute.

At the organisation, she found all of those things — and also found herself elected president of the Quairading branch in her second year with the group.

“If you have the skills, CWA will snap you up pretty quickly,” she laughed.

“CWA is a wonderful organisation that offers friendship to people, as well as plenty of good work that is often unheralded.

“We should blow our own trumpet a bit more, we do wonderful things to help people in dire need — including women, children and husbands.”

While the Quairading meeting may have been her first as an active participant, Ms Johnsonhad her first experience with CWA when she was just nine-years-old.

“My older sister was the secretary in Dumbleyung, and she took me along ... I thought it was just great,” she said.

In previous years, Ms Johnson has served as the Quairading branch president and secretary.

She has also served on the CWA of WA’s State management committee and most recently was a part of its assets management committee — roles she believes have set her up for her new role.

While CWA has changed a bit during her 30 years with the organisation, the general ethos of striving for better conditions for families in rural WA and the city has remained.

Originally from Perth, Ms Johnson moved to Quairading in 1989 when she and her husband Bruce bought the local roadhouse.

The pair sold the business but decided to stay in town.

Mr Johnson picked up a job at the former Farm Power business in Quairading, which is now Ag Implements.

Ms Johnson held a number of roles in town, including the position of senior supervisors and manager at the aged-care home, Parker House, for several years.

Before moving to the country, Ms Johnson worked in real estate in Perth, specialising in settlement and conveyancing.

While she and her husband are retired, one of their sons, Ben, now works at Ag Implements as the parts manager, giving her a firm tie to agriculture.

During her tenure as president at CWA of WA, Ms Johnson has placed “attracting younger members” at the top of her to–do list.

“We don’t want to be viewed as a bunch of old ladies drinking cups of tea and eating scones,” she said, with a smile.

“While we do like afternoon tea and a chat, we are much more than that. We are quiet achievers in our own way, and some even call us ‘chicks with attitude’.”

Ms Johnson said she felt honoured to be named president on Tuesday, on the first day of CWA of WA’s 95th state conference.

For more on the conference, pick up next week’s Countryman.

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