Empowering women at QCWA Country Kitchens during Women’s Health Week

For more than a century, Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) has been improving the lives of women, children and families across Queensland, particularly those in rural and regional areas. 

Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld) is a proud partner of the QCWA and acknowledges their invaluable efforts to support and empower Queensland women, which connects strongly with the ‘Grow your knowledge’ theme of Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week (4–8 September 2023). 

The QCWA Country Kitchens program is a community-based health promotion program funded by the Queensland Government through HWQld, to empower Country Kitchens volunteer members to support their local communities across Queensland to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviours. 

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Dr Robyn Littlewood, commended the QCWA Country Kitchens program which supports the QCWA vision for women to come together to support their communities, while celebrating their interests and forging friendships in a respectful and caring environment. 

‘Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s partnership to support the delivery of the QCWA Country Kitchens program is underpinned by an acknowledgment of the central role the QCWA has played in the lives of many Queenslanders since its inception in 1922,’ Dr Littlewood said. 

‘Preparing food is a great pleasure particularly when friends and family share a meal to enjoy the company of one another, and good nutrition creates a healthier legacy both now and into the future. 

‘I commend the QCWA Country Kitchens program for reinforcing the importance of food and nutrition literacy in improving health and wellbeing, irrespective of where we are and what we are doing. 

‘The role of QCWA in empowering Queensland women also aligns with Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week, which this year celebrates the theme of ‘Grow your knowledge’ and presents an opportunity to share resources and information about women’s health.’ 

The QCWA Country Kitchens program promotes food and nutrition literacy through 5 key messages:

  • get more fruit and veg into your meals
  • cook at home
  • check your portion size
  • sit less, move more, and
  • be aware of sugar in your drinks. 

With more than 3,000 members across 230 branches in Queensland, the QCWA provides a place for rural and regional women to meet together and build community connections by sharing and learning new skills.  

Through QCWA Country Kitchens program, trained volunteer members deliver community-based health promotion activities which strengthen existing connections and establish new partnerships, networks and friendships across communities. 

An example of the many partnerships the QCWA Country Kitchens program has established is with St Vincent de Paul in the Darling Downs region. These 2 organisations have worked together to support refugees and newly arrived migrants to develop skills and community networks, including healthy lunchbox education for children and families.  

QCWA Darling Downs Country Kitchens Division Convenor Wendy Gordon (pictured) said, ‘Although I had never met any of the participants before they attended the workshops, it’s surprising how quickly bonds between the participants and the QCWA members are formed.  

‘Preparing and cooking food, along with the sharing of skills and recipes, really brings us together.

‘The language barrier is very quickly overcome when we start cooking. Many friendships and bonds are formed among the group as we cook together.’ 

By improving the lives of women and families and providing an inclusive and welcoming space for women to belong, the QCWA is strengthening community networks, and, echoing the theme of Women’s Health Week, is ‘growing the knowledge’ of their members to help build a healthier Queensland for everyone.  

St Vincent de Paul volunteer, Gita, said, ‘The partnership between QCWA Country Kitchens and St Vincent de Paul Society in the Darling Downs to provide cooking workshops has delivered great opportunities to build friendships and community spirit, share food and learn new ways of using Aussie ingredients for a nutritious lunch box.  

‘When a newly arrived refugee mum told me she had to buy a sandwich to learn how to make one for her child’s lunchbox, I knew a QCWA Country Kitchens workshop would be very helpful.  

‘Having invited migrants and refugees to QCWA County Kitchens workshops over several years I have seen firsthand how very beneficial the workshops are for them.’ 

To find more information about QCWA Country Kitchens, visit qcwacountrykitchens.com.au