Organisations & societies | State Library of New South Wales

Organisations & societies

Local organisations and societies have a unifying affect on rural communities, whether they are small, grass-roots groups, or larger organisations. Most groups are not-for-profit and volunteer-run, made up of committed individuals passionate about their local communities and interests.

Agricultural societies promote rural industry through the competitive display of produce and livestock at annual shows. A feature of rural life in NSW from the earliest days, agricultural shows provide a focal point for the local community and a forum for the exchange of ideas. There are now almost 200 regional agricultural societies in NSW alone, and more than 550 agricultural shows held annually across Australia.

One of the earliest societies was the Agricultural Society of New South Wales, which was established in 1822 to encourage rural interests across the fledgling colony. Central to the Society’s activities was their annual Show which was first held in Parramatta in 1823. Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is now the largest agricultural event in Australia, providing city folk with a glimpse of rural life and produce.

> Learn more about the Agricultural Society of NSW and the Royal Easter Show

Royal Agricultural Society of NSW

Many rural and isolated communities suffer from a lack of essential health and support services. The Country Women’s Association was formed in 1922 to improve the welfare and conditions of women and families in country areas. Rural medical services such as the Bush Nursing Association of NSW and the Royal Flying Doctor Service have also made a real difference in improving health care and emergency services in remote areas.

 > Learn more about the Country Women’s Association

Country Women's Association

Local churches and schools were some of the earliest institutions established in rural and isolated areas. Local ministers and clergy had a leadership role within the community. Early schools were often little more than single rooms with one teacher. As rural areas grew, larger schools were built, however they were always under threat of closure as the population of areas waxed and waned.

 > View a selection of images of country schools and churches

Country schools 

The involvement of young people in rural youth groups and societies is important in ensuring a sustainable rural community into the future. Organisations such as Junior Farmers Clubs and Rural Youth Council of NSW offered a social network and agricultural education for young people at a local level. Agricultural schools such as the Hawkesbury Agricultural College provided more formal training in farming techniques and life on the land. Sadly, the exodus of young people leaving country areas has always been a problem for rural Australia.




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