President’s Page


Thank you for electing me your President for 2020. Life certainly hasn’t been boring since I took on the role, and I’ve heard some thought-provoking ideas on how to make U3A an even more useful part of our wider community here in Gympie, both from inside and outside our organisation. Although the law of averages suggest that we may not achieve all of these goals, so far we have quite a list for our U3A committee to work through in 2020 including:

  • Investigate grants and opportunities available to give U3A Gympie a permanent home, which would be used for classes as well as storage.
  • Investigate opportunities to form Community Partnerships, which will give U3A members a bigger and more visible role in our community as well as increase our likelihood of being awarded grants. Some of these partnerships could involve working with younger people which would be challenging as well as exciting, but more about that later in 2020 when everyone gets back from their Christmas break…
  • Actively look for tutors for new subjects such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi, meditation/relaxation, AUSLAN, Spanish, speciality cooking.
  • Introduce monthly talks by guest speakers on subjects like basic first aid and CPR, positive ageing, local history, health tips, workshops for simple DIY around the home (i.e. changing a washer or a light globe).
  • Lessen ongoing expenditure by sourcing free venues for classes (e.g. Council, shopping centres, other community organisations and clubs, residential assisted living facilities). An added advantage to using public venues is that U3A is seen out and about in the community, which means free publicity if we provide suitable identification for every U3A public appearance.
  • Review U3A publicity to lessen costs and improve reach as well as our public image.

Conduct internal reviews on expenditure items to lessen costs and maximise our efficiency.

  • Review our social events and venues to:
    • Identify which venues are best liked by our members,
    • Investigate the possibility of “specials” on lunch menus for our group seeing that we are a large group,
    • Explore offering events like social strollers (river walk), monthly movie mornings, bus trips to wineries or shopping hubs, Rattler trips.
  • Take an active role in the Gympie community by participating as a group in events like:
    • Connecting the Community
    • Gympie Show
    • Winter Trees on Mary
    • Seniors Week
    • Gold Rush Parade
    • Mary Street Christmas.

These events will also give U3A members the opportunity to work together on craft projects over a long period leading up to the event, which will be fun as well as productive. Each one of these events will be directed by an Events Manager, who will be responsible for the smooth running of the event so there will be clear lines of communication. Your committee has already begun this initiative with Fran Gregory taking on the responsibility of Events Manager for our U3A Open Day on 14 January.

  • Subsidise ongoing running costs by applying for RADF grants to help fund individual classes (e.g. Drawing, Creative Writing), as well as U3A craft participation as a group in long-term projects such as Mary Street activities and the Gold Rush parade.

If you’ve got any ideas to add to this list or you’d like to give me feedback on your experience or your support for any of these ideas, you can reach me on I’d love to hear from you, and email is best because then I’ve got your ideas in writing which makes it easier for me to remember and to get back to you easily.

2020 looks to be an exciting and productive time for U3A Gympie, and I anticipate a fun year ahead for all of us.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Sue Bagust


DECEMBER 2019 – About the New President

Sue Bagust is an author and Reiki therapist/trainer who now lives in Gympie with her husband, cat, dog, frogs, a few noisy geckos and a nomadic peahen. Sue also writes plays and her books include two novels (Times Four and Fly Me Home), anthologies (Old Saltie, Travellers and Mysterious Ways) and DIY workbooks on subjects as diverse as Reiki, copywriting (DIY Copywriting), Australian animal energy (Circles of Life), lunar energy (Moondancing) and tree energy (The Ogham). She is currently working on her third novel which is a sequel to Fly Me Home.

In her previous life Sue’s trade was that of advertising copywriter (graduate of RMIT), but she has also worked as a publicist, website designer, technical writer and storyliner on a TV soap, and she ran her own freelance writing business (Wordsmith) in Melbourne for 10 years.

Since settling in Gympie in 2008, Sue’s committee experience includes Little Haven Palliative Care, the Regional Arts Development Fund, and Gympie Theatre Association. She retired from all committee involvement in 2015 as she felt too old and infirm to be useful in a service role, and to focus on her goal of becoming a best-selling author – but really should have remembered that advice from Woody Allen “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”


This will be my last month in the position of President of U3A Gympie. I took on the role five years ago, having joined U3A just a few months earlier. Over that time, U3A has continued with its core purpose of connecting seniors to lifelong learning. There have, of course, been changes too. New classes have started up, and some ended, new social activities have started up, and some of those ended too. We recently signed up member number 1000, but member number 2 is still active within U3A. It has been an interesting five years for me, and I look forward to the future under a new President.

Who will that be? As I write, I do not know of anyone who intends nominating for the role of President. This is of great concern as U3A Gympie cannot continue without a President. This isn’t just about practicality, it is a legal requirement. 

It is not a difficult role to fill, especially with the sort of support I received from the rest of the management committee. While some current members will not be re-nominating for their position, several will be nominating for other positions. I expect the new committee will be a mix of new ideas and experience, ensuring the continuing growth of our U3A.

I would like to finish by thanking members of the Management Committee for your hard work on the committee over the last year and for your support of me as President. U3A has improved its membership numbers, its financial position, its class offerings, its public profile and its social activities this year. This has been thanks to your hard work. Thank you.

Susan Hayes



We started the year with an Open Day that was by far the busiest I have seen. At that Open Day we enrolled member number 907. In October, we enrolled member number 1000. And eight more besides. In the few years preceding, numbers were reasonably steady, with a slight decline. This year we have over 200 members actively involved in our classes and regular social activities.
We offer 18 classes, covering a range of interests, from computing skills, languages, book clubs & drawing to singing, line dancing and aqua-cise. We added a third book club this year, our aqua-cise class proved so popular we now have two, and we will be starting a second French class next year. One of our two singing groups, Retro Jukebox Singers does a variety of public performances, and has become a significant drawcard for new members.
We have various social activities – a monthly coffee morning, a weekly mahjong group at the local RSL, a weekly Rummikub group at Centro and a weekly lunch group at a different venue each term. The lunch group is proving especially popular, and is often the first activity for new members. We also use it as a drawcard for potential members.
U3A Gympie contributes to the greater U3A community.
May saw four Committee members attend the annual State Conference in Bundaberg. It had the theme “Break out of your shell”.
We discussed issues common to all U3As – funding; finding and keeping Tutors; effective, and cost effective, publicity; productive relationships with the local council; and succession planning for both Tutors and Committee members. We discussed future directions for U3A, and the promotion of U3A as a Statewide 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. For us it means a re-design of our logo, and overall image. We made a first step in this early in the year, with the introduction of a “uniform”, to be used when promoting U3A. It consists of a royal blue scarf, worn with the wearers plain white shirt. There is, of course, more to come next year.
U3A Gympie contributes to the Gympie community.
In June we participated in a Gympie Regional Council consultation session to inform the planning of Councils Ageing Strategy, due to be completed by 2022. Along with other seniors groups, we collectively identified the strengths and challenges of Gympie and its surrounding region, and expressed our hopes for the future. We look forward to further opportunities to influence Councils plans for our age group.
August saw Seniors Week celebrations across the state. In Gympie the week kicked off with the Duckpond Dash, an all-abilities novelty walk for Seniors. Several U3A members participated, some managing to score prizes. Retro Jukebox Singers provided some live entertainment, and a display about U3A rounded out our contribution to the morning.
Celebrations continued on the following Tuesday, with a Seniors Concert and Morning Tea, with U3A well represented, and more prizes won. There was also a small display
in the library for the week. Some Committee members staffed the display for a couple of hours each day, answering questions and generally spruiking our group.
September saw some U3A members pretending to be old, frail and arthritic. Nursing students pretended to look after us. It’s all part of their training, gives them valuable “hands on” practice and is always fun. U3A has done this regularly for the last few years. Keep an eye out for future volunteer requests if you think you would like to get involved.
Looking forward, we face the ongoing challenge of finding suitable venues. We don’t yet have a permanent home, using a combination of free and discounted venues. At this stage, I’m not sure we could cover the running and maintenance costs of our own venue, but that is something we are working towards.
Finding Tutors, Facilitators, and other volunteers is also a challenge. We always have plenty of great suggestions on what to do, but don’t always have a “who” to do it. Please consider how you could assist with that in the future.
A number of current committee members will not be re-nominating for their positions, and some not for any position. A lot of new people joined this year, with some nominating for the committee which will shortly be elected. New faces bring new ideas, and possibly different ways of doing things. New ideas and ways can be challenging, both to implement and to accept. But new ideas and new ways are also a good thing. They allow us to grow as an organisation and as individuals. Isn’t that what Lifelong Learning is all about? I am sure we all look forward to the new things we are about to learn.
I would like to finish by thanking members of the Management Committee for your hard work on the committee over the last year and for your support of me as President. U3A has improved its membership numbers, its financial position, its class offerings, its public profile and its social activities this year. This has been thanks to your hard work.
I 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 2020.

Susan Hayes