President’s Page

JULY2019

We certainly hit the ground running this term. First week back and we were busy  decorating a tree, putting up a display and joining in a street party. That was on top of our usual round of collecting class fees, enrolling new members, sorting out the Class & Activities Schedule, general running around and occasional under our breath swearing.

Winter Trees on Mary was held on Wednesday 17th July. We had a tree decorated by Lynlie, Anne and me, with (crocheted) late-blooming flowers and information about our various classes and activities. Outside Pazazz Fabrics, (thanks to them for the support), there was a promotional display, (thanks Lynlie), and a great performance by Retro Jukebox Singers, (thanks all of you). While quieter than the Christmas street party, it was a fun night for all.

Coffee with Friends is at Decks on Mary this term. There were a few first timers at July’s gathering, which is good to see. All members and prospective members are welcome to come along. It’s a great way to get to know people not in your particular class. This time there was also the chance to find out a little about the trip to Tasmania in October. I look forward to seeing more faces at the next Coffee with Friends at the end of August.

I also look forward to joining in the Seniors Week Celebrations in mid-August. Things kick off on Sunday 18th at the Duckpond Dash. This is an all abilities novelty walk for Seniors. There are various displays, including one by U3A, entertainment, including Retro Jukebox Singers, and a Devonshire Tea. All for just a gold coin donation.

Celebrations continue on the following Tuesday (20th), with a Seniors Concert and Morning Tea. Places have been booked for U3A, so please contact Anne (0400 827 820) to secure one of those places.

Finally, a short word about your Committee. Each year, all Committee positions are declared vacant and elections held to fill them. However, often the only nominees are those already filling the positions. That will not be the case this year, with some current committee members (including me), intending not to nominate for their position again. If you have ever considered joining the Committee, this would be a good time to put your name forward. While the elections aren’t until November, you may like to come to a meeting or two to get a feel for things. Please contact Anne (0400 827 820) if you would like to do so.

JUNE 2019

June was a fairly uneventful month overall, with one significant exception. On Monday, 24th Gympie Regional Council held a consultation session to inform the planning of Councils Ageing Strategy. The Ageing Strategy is a priority in Council’s Corporate Plan and is due to be completed by 2022.

We worked in groups, examining three topics related to older people:

What is good about living in this area?

What is challenging about living in this area?

What are your hopes for the future of this region?

Collectively we identified strengths which include the friendliness of Gympie; the number and variety of volunteers & clubs; the parks and historical facilities; the community facilities such as the library, ARC & the bus service; our location and access to Sunshine Coast & Brisbane; the ambulance, health, fire and emergency services; shopping and free parking.

Challenges identified included the hills; accessibility of parking; transport within Gympie, to Gympie from outlying communities and to the Coast; accessing medical facilities and services; maintenance of roads and footpaths; facilities specifically for Seniors, Seniors Groups and groups servicing Seniors; provision of more doctors, especially specialists; communication of information specific to Seniors.

Our hopes for the future started with cheaper rates; we hope for growth in the community and in employment; a revitalisation of Mary Street and the local tourist facilities; an increase in the medical and hospital services & facilities; significantly improved parking; wider range of aged care services and places, including non-care residentials; a one-stop Seniors Information service; and did I mention lower rates?

The meeting was scheduled to run for an hour but actually went over an hour and a half. I expect there will be further opportunities to have input on this important part of the Councils Corporate Plan, so if there is something you think we missed, let a committee member know, or contact the council directly.

MAY 2019

This month saw me, and three other Committee members attend the annual State Conference. This year it was held in Bundaberg and had the theme “Break out of your shell”. 

After the initial opening and welcome, the keynote speaker was Rhonda Weston of U3A Toowoomba. She spoke of the beginnings of U3A, how it has grown and developed over time and how it is today. She considered the importance of U3A to its members, summed up very nicely in a quote she overheard – “U3A opens up a world that I want to belong to”. 

The next session was a discussion of issues facing U3As. Several key issues were identified as common to all U3As. 

Funding is always a concern. While there are grants available, there is no consistent monetary support from either State or Federal governments, with all U3As predominantly self funded from membership and class fees.

Tutors also proved to be a common issue. Specifically, searching for Tutors is a ongoing task, with keeping them a close second. We also considered ways to let Tutors know how valuable their efforts are and how much appreciated.

Succession planning affects both Tutors and Committee members. At times, everyone feels the need to step out of a role, whether for a break or for the long term. Succession planning allows this to happen without too much disruption. I will have more to say on this in relation to our U3A group.

Relationships with the local Council were an issue for many U3As. Support provided by Councils varies considerably across the state. This does, ofcourse cut into their own issues with funding and demand on those funds. 

Publicity is also a key issue for many groups. Available funds means we need to access as many free publicity opportunities as possible. When money is spent, it needs to generate a significant return for a small outlay. Many excellent ideas were exchanged regarding how to do this. 

U3A Network Queensland AGM was next. Gail Bonser, U3A Network President, talked about Networks accomplishments this last year. A new group has started at Beachmere and already has 200 members. The Networks Strategic Plan and Constitution were both revised and a PR guide published online. Elections were conducted, with all nominees elected unopposed.

Day one finished with short talks on self-care for volunteers and on dealing with conflict in a volunteer environment.

Day two opened with the Presidents Council. We discussed insurance issues, covering what insurances we need and the joint coverage arranged through Network. We also discussed promotion of U3A as a State- and Nationwide organisation. Part of that are moves to trademark U3A. This is to both protect the image and to enable it to become more widely known.

During the President’s Council there were workshops offered to other delegates. 

We came together as one group again to consider future directions for U3A. We discussed ideas on building effective teams and using the strengths of the team members effectively. 

U3A Online told us how it can help U3A groups, as well as individuals.

We ended with more ideas on positive relationships with local Councils.

All in all, it was an effective conference. I left with many ideas I hope to put to good use benefitting our group.

Susan Hayes

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PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT 2018

2018 has been a varied year, with both positives and negatives scattered throughout.

January saw the launch of our new website u3agympie.com. This has most definitely been a positive. The website outlines all the basic information about us that members, prospective members and the just plain curious might want to know. It has a number of printable documents, including our Constitution, Activities Schedule and Newsletters. At the moment, the newsletters are from January to November. Once I add January 2019, I will delete January 2018 and continue deleting throughout the year, leaving the most recent 12 issues only. This will keep the PDF Documents list from becoming too long and cumbersome.

The Gallery on the website has, sadly, been something of a negative. It has only two pictures on it, both from our 50th Birthday Celebrations at this time last year. The problem isn’t a shortage of pictures, but a shortage of the necessary time to add them. I hope to rectify this once classes finish for this year and hope to add to that page more regularly in 2019.

The Newsletters this year have also been somewhat variable. On the up side, I have streamlined it down to just two pages, with few pictures and no repetition. Hopefully this makes it much more reader friendly for those of you reading on a mobile phone. On the downside, while the newsletter should come out on the first of the month, this hasn’t always happened. That is down to me. The position of News Editor has remained vacant all year, so I have been filling in. I hope that will change after the elections later in this meeting.

The Activities Schedule acquired a new look, with the addition of a Social Events column. This gives you more advance notice of social activities to allow you to better plan your time. The Dates to Remember box in the Newsletters also facilitates this. Sadly, these measures don’t seem to have translated into greater participation in our social activities, and our offerings will be need to be reconsidered for 2019.

U3A Network Queensland State Conference was hosted by U3A Redcliffe in May. It was an enjoyable two days with useful information and pleasant surroundings. Keynote Speaker William McInnes was very entertaining.

In June a number of members enjoyed a cruise on the Great Barrier Reef. On board we enjoyed friendly competitions, easy craft activities, great stage shows and themed parties. On shore, we chose from a variety of excursions, visiting markets, joy flights and wildlife experiences. This became the first trip taken by the newly created Travel group. A trip across the Nullarbor aboard the Indian Pacific is currently being planned and we are open to other suggestions.

In October we played host to committee members from five U3As for a workshop on Disability and Discrimination Legislation. Some funding was provided by U3A Network Queensland towards what proved to be a very interesting and informative morning. I have also been working with Fleur Grainger, Vice president U3A Howard. She is currently putting together a website for Howard and I am helping her with that. I hope in the future we are able to work with other U3As in a supportive and collaborative way more often.

I would like to finish by saying thank you. The Management Committee has seen some changes in membership since the last AGM, and my thanks go to everyone who has participated, whether or not they saw out the whole year. The work put in by everyone has kept U3A Gympie playing a positive role in the lives of its members. I thank you for your hard work and for your support of me as your President, it is greatly appreciated. . I also extend my thanks to all those who have acted as Tutors, Facilitators and Helpers throughout the year. We would cease to function if it weren’t for your efforts and they are greatly appreciated. Thanks also to all the members – you are the lifeblood of U3A Gympie.

I wish everyone an enjoyable holiday season and look forward to seeing you in 2019.

Susan Hayes