U3AAA - Some Background
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.