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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1739

Mr STAPLES(10.20) —This evening I bring to the attention of the House a new concept in leisure and learning-the University of the Third Age or, as it is becoming affectionately and commonly known, U3A. An organisation now called the Yarra Valley U3A was set up in my electorate last year. University of the Third Age is a concept, an organisation, that began in France in 1974. Since that time it has spread across many European countries. Three or four years ago it began to take hold in Australia. Victoria is its home State and from there it is spreading around Australia, principally along the east coast. The Third Age is the age of active retirement, and the University of the Third Age is a means by which people in their retirement, now that they have the time and opportunity, can learn new ideas and skills that they perhaps did not have time to learn when they were working or caring for their families, and so on. It is an extended leisure activity. People can learn and people can teach. It helps to develop the full potential of the community, particularly the older citizens who are now in retirement.

The University of the Third Age maximises the resources of the community-the buildings that are available through schools or other community facilities, the resources of the people in our community. The point to be noted is that U3A does not require much from the community. Most of the work is done by the people themselves and most of the buildings are already there-in many cases underused. U3A provides a focus for the attention of people in retirement to take on new initiatives, new studies and hence develop creative leisure and provide useful benefits to society.

In my area at the moment U3A has courses running in Australian literature, comparative religion, political theory, computer education, art, history of modern China, getting to know you-a communications subject-and conversational German. Shortly new courses will start in thinking philosophically and conversational Japanese. Approximately 100 retired people in my area are now involved in U3A, as tutors and as students. From my point of view as a member of this House it is quite invigorating to see the enthusiasm, innovation and energy of these retired citizens.

I commend John and Dawn Roscholler, Belle Nicholson, the Hon. Gordon Bryant-former Minister and former member for Wills-Max and Mardie Bridgman, Ian Jay, Leslie Claydon, Avis Draffin, Eileen Wawzynkiewicz, Rae Officer, Phil Ryan, Jean Ellis, Noel and Barbara Norman and many others who are involved at the committee level in establishing the University of the Third Age, Yarra Valley. I also acknowledge the support of the Heidelberg Technical School, its principal-Mr Arthur Coates-and its school council for their assistance with office space and their encouragement. I acknowledge the involvement of the Northern Regional Office of the Department of Education in Victoria. I understand that the Latrobe University and other institutes of higher education will be involved in resourcing and aiding this very vital community activity. I am very proud to say that the University of the Third Age, Yarra Valley, has the full support of my office and my staff, particularly my secretary, Elaine Wightman. I am very glad to provide this support because of the valuable contribution that these citizens in their retirement will be making to the community.