U3A Alliance Australia


The U3A (University of the Third Age) movement began at the University of Toulouse, France in 1973, and was subsequently launched in Cambridge, United Kingdom under the guidance of Peter Laslett and Michael Young – this became the model for U3A in Australia.

U3A began in Australia in 1984 in Melbourne. Since then, the U3A movement in Australia has grown to encompass 240 independent groups over all States and Territories.  For some years there had been a desire by some members for a national body of some sort to foster a greater national public awareness of the work and benefit of the U3A movement to retired older people, and to assist in the interaction of U3As across the nation.

The following motion was carried at the NSW U3A Network Conference on 12th March 2008. “… this meeting endorses a proposal for developing a national U3A body and authorises the Network Committee to proceed with appropriate arrangements. Furthermore, it is suggested that consideration be given to an arrangement similar to the National Trust where State and Territory bodies maintain their organisational independence”. The arguments presented in favour of establishing a national body included:

  • U3A being more widely publicised to enhance the opportunity for more people to join and enjoy the great benefits of involvement in U3A;
  • the desirability of undertaking an advocacy role at the national level on behalf of seniors in respect to expanding lifelong learning opportunities;
  • the sharing of information, ideas and resources between existing U3A groups to mutual benefit;
  • maintaining a register of U3A groups in Australia; and
  • establishing links with other relevant seniors and educational bodies in Australia and overseas.

It was deemed important that any new national U3A organization should not add an additional hierarchical layer, as the independence of existing U3As was considered paramount. It was also considered essential that there be minimal financial cost in conducting any new venture along these lines; this was to be achieved by the use of electronic technology and the cooperation of existing U3A Networks in administering the Alliance’s activities.

After interstate communication, a first meeting of the Presidents of the NSW, Victorian and ACT Networks together with U3A Online took place in Orange, in conjunction with the NSW U3A Network conference in March 2009, to establish U3A Alliance Australia (U3AAA). Since that time the Alliance of U3As in South Australia, the Queensland U3A Network and the U3A UWA – representing Western Australia – have joined U3AAA.

The Alliance is currently formed through and operates on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding (Revised 28 March 2017). The business name ‘U3A Alliance Australia’ has been registered, pending a more formal organisational system and Dr Barry Jones AO has accepted to be the Patron of the Alliance.

At a meeting of U3AAA, held in Sydney on 27th April 2011, representatives of all jurisdictions were present and several decisions taken, namely:

  • to develop a distinctive U3A Australia logo and to encourage U3As to use it in conjunction with their own logos;
  • to investigate the potential for the application of Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status for U3A;
  • to monitor Work Safety legislation in each State and Territory with a view to making representations where necessary to ensure that it does not adversely affect volunteers involved in U3A;
  • to consider the feasibility of establishing a U3A Foundation to raise funds for the  development of U3A in Australia;
  • to produce a BULLETIN  which contains information on activities in each Alliance Member;
  • to appoint Di Delchau of U3A Online as the U3AAA representative at the Asian Pacific U3A Alliance, meeting in Singapore in August; and
  • to indicate to the appropriate national authority that the Alliance, on behalf of its members, supports a  national Preventative Health policy.

Click the image below to visit the U3A Alliance Australia website and/or to access the latest U3AAA Bulletin.