Myrtle­ford plans for a U3A

Alpine Observer - - News - By JAMIE KRONBORG

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.

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