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.
With a two week break for the holidays, plus a couple of public holidays, April has been a very quiet month. I hope everyone had an enjoyable time, with just the right amount of chocolate.
Our regular Social Activities are going well. Tuesday Lunch is well attended, with plenty of lively conversation and laughter. This term we were at Ambrosia, but have moved next door to Farmer & Sun, in the Southside Shopping Centre. Coffee With Friends is also going well and will be at Raffinati’s this term. (In the IGA complex.)
All Tutors are invited to the U3A table at the Gympie Regional Council’s Volunteers Morning Tea. You should have received your invitation by now. If not, please give Denice a call on 0490 757 458. RSVPs are essential as seats are limited.
The U3A State Conference was on this month, in Bundaberg. The theme was Break Out of Your Shell. Several members of your Management Committee attended and it was an interesting couple of days. There will be a report included in the next newsletter.
Overall February was an uneventful month, mostly filled with minor adjustments to the Class schedule, chasing up member details and checking class enrolments.
Members may like to offer their input on a couple of topics raised at the Committee meeting. Send your comments or suggestions to email@example.com. I look forward to your input.
1. While we have a handful of Life Members, there does not seem to be any established criteria for the awarding of Life membership. We would like to fix that and would welcome members input regarding possible requirements (and any existing requirements we have yet to identify).
2. As we have a number of members who live some distance from Gympie, we are considering holding one or more activities on the fringes of our catchment area, such as Widgee or Tin Can Bay. It would be useful to know what activities and locations would be of interest to members, and who would be likely to attend.
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.