Myrtle­ford fos­ters wise ideas

Alpine Observer - - Myrtleford Show ‘N’ Shine -

MYRTLE­FORD is ex­plor­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a ‘Uni­ver­sity of the Third Age’ to build op­por­tu­ni­ties for the com­mu­nity’s older peo­ple to share their ex­ten­sive and col­lec­tive knowl­edge and skills.

Alpine Shire is home to a pair of vi­brant branches of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is known as ‘U3A’ and uses the word ‘uni­ver­sity’ in a me­di­ae­val sense as a group of “teach­ers and schol­ars united in the pur­suit of knowl­edge”.

Bright U3A has 218 mem­bers – the largest num­ber per capita of any com­mu­nity in Vic­to­ria.

Mount Beauty U3A is not far be­hind, with more than 160 mem­bers.

The two branches of­fer term-based pro­grams to en­able older peo­ple to so­cialise, share knowl­edge and learn from one an­other.

Alpine for­mer coun­cil­lor Jan Mock said the idea of form­ing a Myrtle­ford branch had come about as a re­sult of Alpine coun­cil’s am­bi­tion to en­cour­age more ac­tiv­i­ties in the com­mu­nity’s Se­nior Ci­ti­zens’ Cen­tre.

“Part of this project is to make some im­prove­ments to the build­ing and its fa­cil­i­ties so that it is at­trac­tive to its user groups,” Ms Mock said.

“An­other fo­cus is to at­tract more user groups so that this fa­cil­ity be­comes a vi­brant com­mu­nity space.”

Bright U3A pres­i­dent Roy Ward said U3A of­fered a great prospect to cap­i­talise on skills and knowl­edge.

It en­abled older peo­ple to pur­sue and share cul­tural and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and to par­tic­i­pate in light ex­er­cise.

Gap­sted farmer and Myrtle­ford Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre pres­i­dent Gil­lian Gasser said the idea was a good one.

“The more you can of­fer ma­ture per­sons op­por­tu­ni­ties for shar­ing and net­work­ing in the Myrtle­ford com­mu­nity the bet­ter,” Ms Gasser said.

She said the TAFE ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem of ac­cred­ited cour­ses was valu­able but older peo­ple were usu­ally look­ing for less for­mal learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and ways in which to share knowl­edge.

The 2016 cen­sus data re­vealed that 24.5 per cent of Alpine Shire’s pop­u­la­tion of 12,337 was 65 and older, com­pared with 15.6pc of Vic­to­ria’s pop­u­la­tion in the same age cat­e­gory.

The cen­sus showed that 24.8pc of peo­ple in the Myrtle­ford sta­tis­ti­cal area and 23.4pc in the Bright sta­tis­ti­cal are, which in­cludes Mount beauty, were over 65.

Ms Mock said a meet­ing to ex­plore the pos­si­ble for­ma­tion of a U3A branch in Myrtle­ford would be held on Oc­to­ber 24 at Myrtle­ford Se­nior Ci­ti­zens’ Cen­tre at 11 Smith Street at 2pm.

Any­one with an in­ter­est was wel­come to at­tend and con­trib­ute to the dis­cus­sion.

BY JAMIE KRON­BORG

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