Myrtleford fosters wise ideas
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