THE University of the Third Age (U3A) is a volunteer co-operative organization devoted to healthy and productive aging.
University, in the original sense, describes a group of people sharing a common interest.
President Jack Engwerda says, “We have no entry requirements, exams or tests. The ‘Third Age’ refers our post working age, when we can participate in , and can do all the things we always wanted to do, but because of work or family commitments didn’t.” Ballarat U3A organises classes and activities by drawing on the skills and knowledge of one another, and activities and classes are conducted during the day in a friendly, relaxed and sharing atmosphere.
“My involvement with U3A began some 5 years ago when I attended my first class,” Jack said. “On stepping out of my car, a lady who had parked next to me stepped out from her car, and as she did I said ‘G’day’. She looked at me for a moment and then said ‘you’ve just made my day ‘. “Surprised, I asked her how? She explained she lived alone, and how nice and important it was to talk to another person, it made her feel wanted and important. She has since passed on, but I have never forgotten. I guess that was the moment I made my commitment to this wonderful and exciting organization.” U3A have been in operation in Ballarat for the past 30 years and currently has more than 1002 active members, 112 classes voluntarily taught by some 88 tutors, who along with committee and volunteers contribute more than 20.000 voluntary hours each year to the Ballarat community. Until recently U3A Ballarat has been operating out of G Place (former Golden Point State School) but due to circumstances this building has been vacant since December 2016 and U3A Ballarat has used various centres across Ballarat to conduct classes. “We are facing enormous challenges in finding suitable accommodation since vacating G Place,” Mr Engwerda said. “In March this year,U3A made enquiries about the future of G Place to the liquidator. The liquidator offered to sell the building to U3A, and understandably the committee and I accepted this offer with great enthusiasm, and bank finance was secured.
“We were totally shocked when the Liquidator advised us on the 27th of April that he had changed his mind, withdrawn the offer, and was going to sell G Place on the open market. G Place is currently on the market with expressions of interest closing on the 10th of August. “ Through Mr. Geoff Howard, Member for Buninyong and the Minister for Education, the Hon James Merlino has written to the liquidator informing him that: ‘The land be used solely for community and educational purposes’ and this must be clearly stated and adhered to when advertised or offered for sale.” U3A has not given up and will bid for G Place for the following reasons: 1. They desperately need the classroom facilities for a rapidly growing membership. In 2012 membership was 490, 2017 1000 plus, in 2020, who knows? 2.The Community needs to retain the G Place facility, and as U3A provides a fantastic community service in facilitating and accommodating those who live alone, and provides the opportunity for them to participate, and be part our community. “U3A will pursue G Place, with genuine and determined council and community support,” Mr Engwerda stated.
“For more information, you are most welcome to contact us on www.u3aballarat.org.au Or phone us on 0431859315. U3A offers lifelong learning possibilities, personal development, new friendships and enjoyment AND you will be warmly welcomed.”