02 Jul LOCAL HISTORY WITH BETTY LAVER
The Red Cross (then Musical Society) and CWA Buildings in Oaka Lane
Florence Laver (related to the Gladstone based Laver Family) founded the CWA movement in Australia at Crookwell NSW in 1922. This organisation was set up to help women overcome the loneliness of living in isolated rural areas throughout the country.
An initial accomplishment of the Gladstone branch was the CWA holiday home built at Barney Point for country women and children. It was named “Havarest” and was in use by 1928. When mothers were seriously ill and had to be hospitalised, a voluntary housekeeper moved in to care for the children. A family was allowed two weeks rent free and by 1933 twenty-eight adults and thirty-six children had stayed there. Within a decade, this home was fully occupied throughout the year.
On the 6th March 1936 the CWA opened its own meeting and restroom on land off Oaka Lane. Restrooms were a feature of the CWA at that time and it provided an oasis for out-of-town women and a private venue for mums with young babies. By the 1950’s, the CWA was affected by social changes as many women went back into the workforce. The local branch ran into financial trouble by 1952 and was temporally closed for six months. It reopened again in April 1953. In 1954 the Port Curtis Division of The Queensland Country Women’s Association was organised and the Gladstone area branches of Gladstone, Calliope, Boyne Valley and Tannum Sands were part of this group.
The Red Cross Society came out of recess in 1938 to serve wartime needs. The Red Cross Hall was built behind the CWA Hall in 1951 and the first monthly meeting was held in February. The new building was officially opened in May by Mayor O’Malley and was celebrated with a fete. The Red Cross were responsible for the Blood Donations to Blood Bank and had a full-time convener. First Aid and Home Nursing classes have been a specialty and they continued from war years with handcraft classes. In 1978 the Red Cross Rooms were sold to the Gladstone Musical Society and the Red Cross Committee had new rooms built.