Author Archives: netadmin

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by Ian Day, Chief Executive Officer Council on the Ageing (NSW) Inc.

More than one in every three people in NSW is aged over 50. As such, this group is highly significant in electoral, employment and market terms, but this impact is often not understood and in some cases not even considered.

COTA NSW’s role, above all else, is to counter this. In advocating on behalf of people over 50, we are continually emphasising that what is good for this population is – typically – good for the population at large. To illustrate: when businesses fail to attract or retain older employees, they lose skills and knowledge. However, they also lose significant market share when they fail to adequately serve older customers (something our latest COTA NSW Survey tells us occurs frequently), and this is bad news for the economy. Likewise, governments and policy makers who see older voters in terms of their ‘cost’ to the community are failing to recognise the potential of engaging the older community. A clearer-eyed view of the demography of NSW would see older people perceived in terms of the economic opportunity they represent when policies and initiatives are developed that actually recognise their needs and desires. We also note that the politicians who fail to address older voters’ priorities are doing themselves a disservice. Older people are swinging voters, and elected representatives would do well to remember the age profile of those they represent.

This perception of older people’s situation in NSW is not conjecture. On the contrary, COTA NSW constantly engages with people aged over 50 to understand the issues that are important to them as they age. Our interaction with them tells us they are increasingly independent in their outlook. They are aware, connected, informed and demanding, particularly when it comes to the recognition of their rights. They are active contributors to their community and involved with community organisations. Regardless of age, more than 80% rate their well-being as good, very good or excellent. They are not waiting for services. They are looking to their futures.

Our advocacy, policy recommendations, services and new opportunities stem directly from the knowledge we have of our constituents. Over the past year we have contributed on many issues important to and for older people, including Elder Abuse, Wills and Powers of Attorney, Enduring Guardianships and Advance Care Directives, Palliative Care, Cyber Security, Active Ageing fitness initiatives, Grandparent Carers, Sprinklers in Residential Aged Care Facilities, Energy Affordability, Retirement Villages, Housing Affordability, Planning for Age Friendly Communities, Mental Health and Aged Care reform.

Our research consistently suggests that four major factors affect an individual’s view of their level of well-being: their health and fitness; their state of mind – independence and confidence; their connection with friends, family and community and their feeling of financial and housing security. These themes are not uniquely age-related but they are critical when it comes to the decisions undertaken by older people. We believe that much more needs to be done to give rise to a community where all four of these factors are in place.

We also believe that in all aspects of our society older people have an absolute right to be included rather than excluded – whether it is purchasing goods and services, getting around the built environment, having access to health and support services, engaging with the wider community, accessing appropriate housing, feeling safe in their daily lives and making their own decisions.

I wish to acknowledge and thank U3A for your support and contribution to the work of COTA NSW. I look forward to the continuing exchange of ideas and information that has marked our relationship over recent years.

COTA Fact Sheets

COTA NSW has put together over 80 Fact Sheets with concise and accurate information on a wide range of important issues – See more at: click on ‘Publication’ then click on ‘Fact Sheets’.

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Profile of the Network

by Jean de Hosson

WHAT a wonderful response was made to our recent NSW Members’ Survey! 62 Surveys were dispatched and 59 were completed and returned. The Network Secretary, while kept busy, is absolutely thrilled with our members’ cooperation and willingness to be of help. Naturally, not all the information has been collated but here are a few preliminary results from our 59 respondents:

Their combined membership in 2012 was 26 017 and is now 27 396 of whom 24% are male and 76% female. 78% of our membership is between the ages of 60 to 80. While most of our U3As operate over their local area, 38% have “outlying” centres where they operate.

And what were judged the BEST things about U3A? Well, the responses were varied but showed definite trends. By far the two greatest responses were almost evenly divided between Learning and Social Benefits. However, each was expressed in a variety of ways.

Learning was noted as lifelong, creative, and an opportunity to develop new skills. It kept the body and mind active. It stimulates new ideas and also helps maintain one’s skills. Through learning there is the opportunity to share knowledge and interests. The non-judgemental atmosphere allows “quiet” members to participate. On the one hand, it stimulates members to research topics and learn about their environment but on the other allows those who have skills to share them with their fellow U3Aers. Furthermore, in U3A members have been able to participate in activities not offered anywhere else. All of this takes place in a safe, supportive environment where age doesn’t seem to matter!

Which brings us to the Social Benefits. U3A encourage “Seniors to get out and about”, as one response said. (or, “Keeps us off the streets”, as one of our tutors remarked). The social experiences, activities, interaction and links both between members and other U3As were commented on. U3A is a place to meet both a variety of people as well as those of a like mind. It develops friendships, camaraderie and companionship. It is a supportive environment. Through U3A, networks and social interactions occur. There is an outreach to the aged and general community building.

Affordability was another aspect that a number of U3As found to be a strong factor. U3A definitely gives value for money. Tutors were praised as the “backbone” of U3As. Strong, Active Membership is strongly valued. Being part of the Management Committee was seen as an opportunity to develop a sense of purpose and team work. The setting of goals and meeting challenges were also given as a strength of U3A as was personal development.

The U3A that also encompasses a Mens’ Shed said it was great – particularly for attracting male members!

This is just a taste of what you’ve told us. When the survey is fully analysed, we will send everyone a copy. My sincere thanks to all you wonderful committee members who added this survey to your usual tasks. If you do not see the exact wording of your response to What are the three best things about U3A? please, remember that I’ve had to categorise your answers. I did wonder whether the question might be an interesting one to tack onto your renewal forms this year … I wonder how your members would respond ?

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How to get newsworthy photos

Edited by Claire Eglinton from an article in the newsletter of Lower North U3A, SA.

News media is becoming a much more visual affair than it was years ago. Conditioned by decades of television watching, we expect more from newspapers than the old style column after column of newsprint. We expect to see photographs illustrating even the most mundane of news articles. And news editors will invariably give priority to a story accompanied by good photos.

What is a good photo? I am not talking about framing and focal length but what makes an effective publicity photo which will gladden the heart of an editor trying to inject some interest into his pages, encourage readers and paint your U3A in the best light.

Well, first let us talk about the most common photos, the cliché photos so you know what not to do. Firstly there is the ‘grip and grin’. You know the one where someone is shaking a hand of another person while they hand over a cheque or document. There they are, frozen in time, holding an awkward pose as they bare their teeth and stare woodenly at the camera.

The other one could be called the ‘firing squad’. The photographer has lined everyone up against the wall, and the longer they wait for the stragglers to take their place, the more their eyes glaze trying not to blink, hoping their faces don’t betray how they are wishing to hell it was all over and done with.

We are always told to avoid clichés when writing and cliché photos should be avoided too. They are the visual equivalent of “a good time was had by all”.

Try to catch people doing their activity or relaxing and joking but it is not always wise to make it a complete ambush. If you take snaps which catch your subjects totally unaware, you may have to edit out quite a few to avoid grim, unsmiling faces. Some people do have naturally serious faces so be aware of the dangers of glum faces which are not a great recommendation for U3A.

Let them know you are moving around taking photographs but don’t ask them to pose. Alternatively do some posed shots then start shooting again after they have all relaxed and forgotten about you.

Here is some advice from former journalist and PR expert Guy Bergstrom taken from an marketing newsletter. He says the most effective photos, the ones which make people read the article are of people facing the camera (not necessarily staring at the lens) while doing something relating to the story.

Bergstrom is no fan of staged group photos, and suggests three ways to make them interesting and useful:

  1. Turn group photos into action shots
    Make people DO something. If they’re scientists, shoot them in the lab, holding bubbling beakers, looking through microscopes. For office workers, at least get them at a conference table, when they’re having a meeting (not a staged fake meeting) and wait for the meeting to really get going before you start taking shots.
  2. Focus on one person
    One person will naturally be the focus of any good shot. Maybe TWO people, if they’re right next to each other and interacting. The whole group will not be equally prominent in a photo. So when you shoot a group, and pick the best shots, look for ones that feature the person who’s most important to the story.
  3. The arms-length test
    What looks great on your computer monitor at full resolution may look cluttered and terrible when it’s printed or put on a web-site in a much lower resolution.
    Hold the photo out at arm’s length. Can you tell what it’s about? This is hard with action shots and even tougher with group photos. Crop the photo to cut out anything distracting in the background and play with the contrast and levels until it’s clear what the photo shows even when viewed from far away.

Digital cameras are a boon but few of us make the most of them. Not only can you immediately check out the photo and see if you cut off the tall guy’s head, but it doesn’t cost you anything but your time to take 50 photos instead of one.

Bergstom says: A professional photographer shooting a model for a magazine cover is happy to do 200 shots and have five good ones at the end. I see so many people take two shots and call it good. Take the 200 shots. Look for the five good ones. Pick the best one out of those five. It’s worth the time, because images are important.

That is so true. Why does an amateur think they have nailed the best shot first or second try when a
professional never would? Back in the days of film, every photo cost you money and to take more than one or two photos was extravagant. Not any more so it is time we got over that way of thinking.

Recently I was asked to take photos of a workshop and everyone thought I looked very professional and liked some of the photos. Truth is I am a lousy photographer so I did what I could to overcome my natural lack of talent. I even read the camera manual and packed a tripod. The tripod is a great investment for anyone who doesn’t have the steady arms of a pistol shooter. Lacking that, rest the camera against a door frame or something solid so you maximise your chances of having a sharp photo. The other thing I did was take hundreds of shots. It was amazing and embarrassing how few proved usable.

I was concentrating on the people, totally unaware of how inanimate objects like water carafes and microphones can jump in front of the subject in the most scene-stealing way. Every person’s appearance was marred by sticky-paper name tags. On the day I was blind to these problems. It was only that night when I saw them enlarged across my computer screen that I realised the worst. Thank heavens I had taken so many.

While you can burn the midnight oil writing a press release, you can’t go back and recreate the day to take more photos. Take more photos than you could ever imagine needing, from all different heights, with all different backgrounds and you should have a few keepers, you may even get lucky and take a real winner.

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Course leaders – finding, servicing and rewarding convenors

by Frank Jennings

This article is a summary of the main points made in the workshop on this topic, led by Fran Tarbox of Kempsey-Macleay alley U3A, at the 2012 Port Macquarie Network Conference.

While every U3A operates in a different way, often depending on membership size, different methods of administration, and venues available, some of the following suggestions may be useful.

Finding course leaders:

  • In application forms, newsletters and in media articles and interviews, ask people if they would like to lead a course
  • List Network Resource Library courses in your newsletter, and ask for volunteers to lead them
  • Rotating leadership responsibility within a group or class can develop new leaders as confidence grows.
  • If a leader retires or take a break, ask their suggestions for a replacement

Servicing course leaders

  • Provide each leader with a folder containing information such as the U3A year calendar, committee details, mentor list, accident or incident forms, advice on how to deal with difficult members, venue information, reports etc,
  • Provide brunches at the commencement of Terms 1 and 3 with in-service training, eg a first aid course such as Life .. live It .. Save it (available from the NSW Ambulance Service), to explain course policies, or a Q & A session to share information and ideas

Rewarding Course Leaders

  • Certificates of appreciation
  • Polo shirts, lanyards, or other small gifts of appreciation for people who conduct courses over several weeks or terms.
  • A brunch or lunch where leaders are guests but other members pay.
  • Thankyou’s in newsletters, local media, etc
  • Thankyou cards for one-off talk presenters

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Brain articles

by Julie Henry

Your Brain Matters is Alzheimer’s Australia’s NEW brain health program, designed to help Australians live a brain healthy life. We have also developed an App to assist in monitoring your brain health. Available for Android and Apple smart phones, download BrainyApp today to help you on your way to a brain healthy lifestyle.

There are three key areas to help you live a brain healthy life: look after your Brain, Body and Heart.

All these are important in looking after your brain health.

Following the Your Brain Matters guide is particularly important once you reach middle age, as this is when changes in the brain start to occur. But it’s even better if you follow them throughout life. It’s never too late either, as brain function can be improved at any age.

For more information about Your Brain Matters and for tips and free resources on how to live a brain healthy life, visit

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Network Resource Library

by Editor

The Resource Library is a collection of course materials which can be used by any U3A organisation for the benefit of its members. Additionally, any individual may find the resources of interest for their own benefit. You can access the Library and its resources from the Network website then click onto the Resource Library link.

How to Order Resources
Many courses are now available directly from this site. When you see the word download at the end of any item, it means that you can download that item via adobe acrobat.
If a course is not yet available direct, or you are unable to download any item contact the Library manager (via the Library website).
To order any resource material, go to the Resource Library website, click on Library Manager and you will be directed to her email address.
Most of the material is available electronically (email). If any item is too lengthy to be sent in this way, you will be advised. In that case, a CD may be sent to you.
Material sent electronically is free of charge. The charge for material on CD is $6, postage included. The charge for material in print is 10 cents per page plus postage.
If you require print copies it is recommended that you contact the Library Manager to advise your postal address and be advised of the cost. Some courses are lengthy.

EXPANDED CATALOGUE 2 – What is available

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – Australian History – 19th Century (2 titles) – Gold rushes –- Bushrangers

The Nature of Language; (10 sessions – at least) – Contact Robert Loveday (

The History of the English Language (6 sessions) – Contact Library Manager

Australian Literature in the 19th Century (includes 20 writers)

Geoffrey Chaucer: his Life, Work and Times

Shakespearean Tragedy (Explores 4 plays)

Shakespeare and the Modern World –

Shakespeare’s Shylock – Villain or Victim

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Powerpoint

International Biographies (32 available)

Explorers – Portuguese Explorers in the Age of Discovery (4)

Explorers – The History of Australian Exploration – a Chronological Summary (11 Explorers)

The “Heroic Age” of Antarctic Exploration (5 stories told)

Famous Australians (27 biographies)

Comparative Religion (Notes on 9 religions available) –

Myths and legends – The Arthurian Legend – 5 Mysteries of the Sea – Irish Myths and Legends More Legends – Santa, Yeti, Loch Ness, Vampires….

The following Courses are downloadable except for “Your Cosmic Connections”
Cryptic Crosswords –

Forum/Discussion Group Topics – 10 Climate Change

Visions, Dreams, Hypnosis –

Architecture Weird and Wonderful –

Your Cosmic Connections – Contact Library Manager

Contact the Library Manager for

An Introduction to the Celts. (5 sessions) – Contact Library Manager

An Introduction to the Celts – Power Point Sessions – Contact Library Manager

South African History to 1900 (7 Topics)

Short biographies of Australian Governors, pre Federation (commencing with Arthur Phillip) – Available on CD only

Short biographies of Australian Premiers, preFederation – Available on CD only

Antarctica 1995 –A tourist’s view – Powerpoint Program

Australia Felix – or is it? – The Murray Darling Basin; The Snowy Mountains Scheme –

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Local Government & Positive Ageing Policies

by Editor

September is the time for Local Government elections, and now is the time to start thinking about how well your Council looks after its older citizens, and U3A.

The Workshop Staying Associated – Dealing with Local Government conducted at the 2012 Network Conference by Ron Browne and Ainslie Lamb, drew on the experience of participants in dealing with local government.

It is expected that by 2030, the proportion of people aged over 65 in the general population will have increased to 22%. In 2010 the Local Government Act was amended to require Councils to prepare long term strategic plans which include consideration of this growing demographic. The NSW State Government is developing a Whole of Government Ageing Strategy, which includes an acknowledgement that local planning is a pivotal element in this, and specifically acknowledges the role of organizations such as U3A and Men’s Sheds in providing community engagement on positive ageing. The Australian Local Government Association, in a 2004 report, emphasises the unique position of Local Government in developing a flexible and dynamic approach to planning for ageing populations, with development of strategies to focus on aged care services, infrastructure, affordable accommodation, transport , health promotion and community facilities.

From a U3A perspective, the availability of reasonably priced community based accommodation to conduct U3A activities, is but one part of this picture. Equally important is to ensure that local councils understand that organizations such as U3A play an important role in supporting positive healthy ageing, and that Councils are aware of their responsibilities to develop positive ageing strategic plans. An example of such a plan can be found on the Cardinia Shire Council website, at,au – call up Positive Ageing Strategy.
In September last year, when Council elections were restored in Wollongong, U3A representatives met with the major candidates for office of Lord Mayor and Council, to discuss the issue and seek their support for development of a Positive Ageing Strategy for Wollongong. As U3A representative Margaret Stratton and Barbara Lucas reported to the workshop, they were successful in their efforts – the first item discussed by the Council was the need to prepare a Positive Ageing Strategy.

The workshop discussion exchanged experiences and developed a number of suggestions as to how U3As might go about influencing their Council in the preparation of such a policy. These included:

Lobbying candidates for Council;

Making a presentation to Council officers – not just the councillors – such as the General Manager, Town Planners, Community officers; or

Inviting those officers to address a U3A meeting where issues can be raised with them;

Conduct a course on Local Government;

Link your U3A website to the Council website;

Raise any accommodation problems your U3A has directly with the Council;

Partner with other community groups for lobbying and community development;

Run a pop-up shop for local publicity during the election;

Gather letters of support.

Above all, insist on being taken seriously – keep citing your stats and community role, and be vocal and be visible.

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A Guide for New Committee Members

by Editor

The aims and objectives of the Network are:

  • To provide information, advice and relevant services to member U3As, and to encourage their involvement in the wider community, while recognizing their autonomy;
  • To encourage co-operation and networking between member U3As, and as far as practicable, with other U3A organizations in Australia and internationally;
  • To support the formation of U3As within the State of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory;
  • To promote the U3A movement by publicizing it through various media;
  • To represent member U3As at State and National levels;
  • To establish and maintain links with educational and Seniors’ organizations;
  • To co-operate with and seek support from relevant sources for applied research into life-long learning and related aspects of ageing; • To do all such things as may be conducive to the attainment of these objectives.

Principles of the Network

Based on the philosophy of the UK co-founder of the ‘British Model’ of the U3A movement, Dr. Peter Laslett.

The principles of the Network are:

  • To provide affordable learning opportunities for older people, using the skills and abilities of the members themselves.
  • Those who learn shall teach and those who teach shall learn, and there shall be no distinction between the two.
  • There shall be no qualifications for membership, and no awards, degrees or diplomas shall be given.
  • The emphasis shall be on learning for the love of it, and shall include an emphasis on the values of making things and improving skills of all kinds.
  • Learning shall take place in a friendly, supportive, social environment
  • Those joining a U3A shall pay for its upkeep.
  • There shall be no payment to any person (member or non-member) for teaching or providing a service to members except in the case of reimbursement for such expenses as travel, photocopying, etc.
  • The curriculum of a U3A shall be determined by the needs/preferences of its members and according to the resources available to it.
  • To be at all times, non-political and non-sectarian in our approach.

The Services of the Network

  • A comprehensive Group Public Liability Insurance Policy covering the majority of all U3A activities.
  • Copyright Agency blanket licence (again at reduced cost per member) and APRA and Screenrights licences, for those U3As which request them;
  • The Resource Library, an online repository of lesson notes and reference materials to assist would-be tutors preparing their courses;
  • Sub-domain website access and assistance in website management;
  • Generic promotion and publicity for the U3A movement in NSW, including a DVD, leaflets and press releases;
  • Developing links with government, and other organisations (such as COTA) in respect to policies relevant to U3A groups in NSW;
  • Representing NSW U3As within the national body, U3A Alliance Australia;
  • A quarterly newsletter, Newslink, with news and information for U3A management committees;
  • An Annual Conference;
  • Advice and assistance on request, about all aspects of U3A management
  • Facilitation of networking between U3As

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About Your Constitution

by Allan Haggerty

Following changes to Associations Incorporation legislation and Regulations last year, many U3As are updating their current Constitutions to comply with the changes. The changes generally provide more flexibility for smaller incorporated associations, enabling such matters as postal voting, simplifying accounting procedures, and clarifying committee roles and responsibilities. A new Model Constitution has been prepared, which can be adapted to any organisation’s needs. This does not automatically mean that U3As must update their Constitutions – the law provides that some of the legislative changes will be automatically be deemed to be incorporated, while other changes can be adopted or ignored. However, as many older groups have made amendments to their Constitutions over the years, it is a good opportunity to review their current Constitutions and update them so that all relevant information and any other desirable changes can be readily ascertained from a single document.

For further information, go to and click onto Associations.

The Network committee recently learned that one of our longtime members, while it has a Constitution, was not incorporated. While this is now being rectified, Allan Haggarty of Griffith U3A, has prepared the following articles:

The Importance of Incorporation

There are several reasons why incorporating as an association under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009 is important. The main one is protecting the assets of individual members. If incorporated, only the association’s assets are at risk. In the event someone is injured or their property damaged as a result of the association’s
negligence, they can only make a claim against the association, not its individual members. This was the principal reason the NSW government first introduced such legislation in 1984. At a time when more and more people are making claims such protection of individual members’ assets is vital.

Other benefits include, firstly, that the association, being a separate legal entity, can own or lease property in its own name without the complications that can otherwise arise when, for example, there’s a change in the executive and, secondly, that, in applying for a government grant, it’s unlikely an application from an unincorporated association will be accepted.

To become incorporated an association must have a constitution. However, if starting up, to avoid having to spend time on agreeing on what the constitution should contain at a time when members’ enthusiasm may be directed to such matters as courses, the association can opt to adopt the Model Constitution under the Act. This will provide a framework that complies with the legislation and give the association’s members time to consider a tailor-made document at a later date when they may have a better idea of what they want.

Age Discrimination

U3A Network NSW, in keeping with government policies, prefers not to specify a lower age limit for members, so as not to discriminate against any potential, or present, members. At the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Network, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

That it is recommended that all U3As remove age discrimination from their Constitutions by substituting “mature age’ for any specific age.

The Network prefers to encourage affiliated U3A groups to open up membership to people who are retired or semi-retired from the paid workforce. While most of those will be at least approaching the age of eligibility for a Seniors Card the Network would not like to see persons younger than that denied membership through a minimum age limit contained in a constitution, especially if early retirement has been forced upon them, or if they cannot work because of disability.

Besides they may bring new skills and enthusiasm to the organisation. Of course it’s unwise to impose an upper age limit either as there are groups with members well into their 90s still making a valuable contribution.

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Risk Management

by Allan Haggarty

Risk Management, or managing risk is about minimising danger. It is, of course, impossible to eliminate it. Two simple examples are not to cross the road against a red light and not to change a light globe before switching off the light. Common sense? Yes, but as one gets older, one can be easily distracted.

Organisations like U3As face risks, no matter what activities they engage in. Risk Management is about minimising or managing such risks.

We should all look at our various activities by putting ourselves in the shoes of a prospective member and methodically look at how we conduct those activities. For example, is there a mat at the front door of our premises and if so is it worn or uneven and likely to cause an unfamiliar person to trip or fall?

Is the door heavy or likely to swing back and push someone off balance? Are there any electrical cords on the floor that someone may trip over?

Do you serve a cup of tea? Is the receptacle for used tea bags at the end of the serving line or do members have to double back and risk spilling someone’s hot tea? Who operates the urn?

If you feel you’re too familiar with your environment, consider asking an independent perceptive person to come to a class to assist in noting potential problem areas.

Having identified some risks, how do we manage them?

Door mat. Consider replacing it, if it’s yours, or asking the building owner to do so and warn members in the meantime. A warning sign is best, to minimise the risk of members not being aware of the danger, though you should still point out the existence of the sign.

Heavy door. Consider chocking it open, or again, warning members.

Electrical cords. Consider appointing a member to be responsible for setting up electrical equipment and keeping cords out of harms way.

Morning tea. Consider appointing a member to operate the urn and to place tea bags, sugar, milk, urn and the receptacle for used tea bags in that sequence and encourage members to move well away from the area after being served.

Activities such as bush walking might require warnings about levels of fitness, terrain, duration of walk, inclement weather, appropriate clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent, mobile phone coverage, first aid and you may require participants to sign a disclaimer relieving the organisation of any liability. [An example of a disclaimer is included in the U3A ACT’s Newsletter, on the Travel Opportunities page:]

If your activities involve greater risks, eg a Men’s Shed, then obviously the scrutiny needs to be greater and again a disclaimer may need to be considered.

One more thing: CRISP’s policy imposes an obligation on U3As to take all reasonable care. So you should record risks you’ve identified and how you manage them. This amounts to having a Risk Management policy in place and should help your insurer in defending a claim. Otherwise you may be charged a higher premium or worse still, be told you won’t be covered.