Myrtleford plans for a U3A
MYRTLEFORD is to pursue the development of a U3A branch to enable the community’s older people to build and share education and social opportunities.
Bright and Mount Beauty, relative to the populations of those communities, already have two of the largest branches of what is formally known as University of the Third Age in Victoria’s 107-strong U3A branch network.
The organisation developed in France in 1973 to offer scope for older people in cities, towns and other communities to participate in courses at local universities.
The model was subsequently adapted in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia to encourage ‘peer learning’ – an informal way in which people share lifetime experience, knowledge and skills with others
I’m assistant principal at Mount Beauty Secondary College. I started at the beginning of this year. I see my role as supporting students and staff in their everyday working lives.
I try to be available for the whole school community for the support of students in their learning, for the staff as they facilitate that learning and the parents when they have questions.
Is it something you always wanted to do?
No. I grew up in Frankston and I wanted to be a truck driver and if that didn’t work out I wanted to be an electrician.
I went to Ballam Park Tech and did mathematics and science and I think education finally clicked in community-based courses.
Jan Mock, who has been engaged by Alpine Shire Council to shape some community projects – including ways to encourage more activities in Myrtleford Senior Citizens’ Centre – said interested people in Myrtleford had now met twice to explore prospects for a U3A branch.
At the second meeting, last week, 13 people attending had agreed to form a steering group to guide the next steps towards branch establishment.
Steering group nominees include former Alpine mayor Nino Mautone, Robyn McDonald, Judy Pitts, Denise Kennedy, Wendy Damaschi, Helen King, Bright U3A president Roy Ward and Ms Mock.
Late last month 36 people met to gauge community interest in development of a Myrtleford branch and listed Italian, French and German languages, walking, literature appreciation, cooking for one, painting, history and history tours, philosophy, current affairs, and Italian cooking, among others, as prospective courses and activities of interest.
There was also a keenness to take up practical courses in gardening, fruit tree and shrub pruning, and dog-training.
U3A development and support officer Anne Grigg, who attended last week’s meeting from the organisation’s network office in Melbourne, said a model constitution and other templates were available to aid branch development.
Mr Ward has also offered Bright U3A’s help to establish a Myrtleford branch.
Ms Mock said anyone who would like to join the steering committee was welcome to contact her or attend the next meeting at Myrtleford Senior Citizens’ Centre on November 15 at 2pm.
She also said it was important to note that a U3A branch in Myrtleford would be structured to add to community opportunities, not cut across activities already offered or provided by other organisations.
Gapsted farmer and Myrtleford Neighbourhood Centre president Gillian Gasser last month said the idea of a U3A branch was a good one.
“The more you can offer mature persons opportunities for sharing and networking in the Myrtleford community the better,” she said.
She said that TAFE-accredited courses were valuable but older people were usually looking for less formal learning opportunities.
Last year’s census revealed that 24.5 per cent of Alpine Shire’s population of 12,337 was 65 or older – as is Myrtleford’s.