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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8104

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (22:15): On Friday, 30 March 2012 the Tea Tree Gully University of the Third Age celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Along with local state MPs, Frances Bedford and Tom Kenyon, and Tea Tree Gully Councillor Graeme Denholm, I attended the celebrations. An open day was held at the university premises at Modbury and in the afternoon a number of speakers, including founding member Maud Brown, addressed those present before a 25th birthday cake was cut to mark the occasion. We also heard some entertaining poetry about ageing from renowned local poet Jill Wherry.

The Tea Tree Gully U3A is one of Australia's largest and most successful. From a membership of around 20 in 1987 it has grown to around 700 members today and offers some 90 different courses which have enriched the lives of people by broadening their knowledge and in turn enabling them to participate in so many of life's other opportunities. For many, their lives have been further enriched through the friends they have made along the way. For some people it is only on retirement from full-time work that they have the time to pursue lifelong ambitions, including learning interests. We also know that people are not only living longer but continue to be active long after retirement. This was most evident in the lives of many of the members of the Tea Tree Gully U3A.

The Tea Tree Gully U3A has been an exceptional organisation mainly because of the people who have voluntarily contributed to the management of the group and the teaching of courses. It was through the determination and the constructive approach of the management committee, and the invaluable support of local MP Frances Bedford, that their current premises were secured. The university's regular newsletter, the Conveyor, keeps members informed of the university's courses and activities. Over the years I have visited the university on several occasions and have seen firsthand the courses in progress and the enthusiasm by all involved. I understand that several hundred people passed through the centre on open day, many for the first time, so I have little doubt that numbers will continue to grow.

The concept of universities of the third age was initiated in France in 1972 and soon spread to Australia. Today there are 18 U3As in South Australia. It is a fantastic concept and, whilst the universities are self-funded volunteer based groups, given the immense social contribution they make I encourage the government to consider providing them with some financial assistance to help meet ongoing expenses. Former member of this place the Hon. Barry Jones said in 2001: 'Organisations like U3A keep older people vertical rather than horizontal for longer by keeping them out of nursing home beds, thus reducing the drain on government expenses.'

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Tea Tree Gully U3A for their 25 years of service to the local community. I commend all of those people who have kept the university going over the years, and I particularly acknowledge the current committee members: President Elmer Varga, Margaret King, Hugo Schouten, Ian Caddy, David Steel, Val Dee, June Hindmarch, Lawrie Hampton, Wayne Ellis, Arthur Jeffries, Dorothy Heller, Helen Meyer and David King for their vision and professionalism in overseeing its growth.

I also tonight speak of another exceptional community group, but this one has a youth focus. I refer to the Tea Tree Gully GymSports. Tea Tree Gully GymSports was founded by local resident Peter Rostrun in 1958. Today it is one of Australia's largest gymnastics clubs, with a membership of 1,300. The club was literally bursting at the seams until a couple of years ago when a combination of funding from the federal government, Tea Tree Gully Council and members' fundraising enabled an expansion and upgrade of club facilities. While sometimes stressful to the management committee, and disruptive for users, the much-needed rebuilding project has made a huge difference to all concerned. In my most recent visit to the club I spoke to some of the families there and heard how the new facilities were making so much difference for the coaches and athletes. At a time when obesity is a serious health concern throughout society, encouraging young people to participate in physical activity has many personal and national benefits. But to do that we need modern and safe facilities. I believe the government investment in youth sports facilities is money very well spent. The Tea Tree Gully Gymsports Centre is testimony to that. For very little government investment, literally thousands of young people have over the years participated and benefited from activities there. As with most community facilities, much of the credit goes to the hardworking management committee, who not only put in the time but also take on huge responsibilities. Thanks to their hard work and resolve, current and future generations will benefit from the much needed facilities at Tea Tree Gully Gymsports.

I particularly acknowledge the leadership of club president Tammy Page, who—with the total support of her husband and gymnastic coach, Gary, and the centre's management committee—steered the club through some very difficult times during the protracted negotiations. I also acknowledge the founding role of Peter Rostrun, who, after all these years, continues to support the club with his wife, Kaye.

I note that Gymnastics Australia received $600,000 of federal funding per year for its participation programs, including the development of LaunchPad disability programs as well as enhancing coaching and officiating. As Minister for Sport Kate Lundy said:

Gymnastics is widely acknowledged, along with swimming and athletics, as a key sport for young Australians.

For many of our successful Aussie athletes, gymnastics is where it all started. (Time expired)