U3A will support people wanting active retirement


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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U3A's Douglas Shire steering committee. (from left) Lyn Percic, Sharron Rook, Claudia Contessini, Annette Brunt and Judi Tapp. Absent: Catherine Rosenbrauer and Lynola Hughes. Image: Supplied.
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The Douglas Shire will literally come of age on April 19 when a local branch of U3A – University of the Third Age – is launched.

U3A is a self-help education movement which caters for persons in the 'third age' and for those who have retired, promoting the concept of studying simply for the joy of learning. It is not a formal University, and does not offer formal qualifications, nor does it set academic qualifications as a prerequisite for entry.

The U3A movement was founded in the south of France in the early 1970’s, run by universities as a summer school for retirees.

Lyn Percic, chairperson of U3A Douglas Shire, said a change in her working life paved the way to establishing a Douglas Shire group.

U3A Queensland is the largest provider of adult education programs for retirees in Queensland. There are 34 U3A groups, and they all started out holding classes in either rooms from Council provided facilities, rental properties, members’ homes and public spaces, then progressing to lease or ownership of purpose built facilities.

“Finding myself unemployed last year and a yearning to be involved in something, I started to explore the possibilities of establishing a U3A in the Shire. I was a member of the Cairns branch and saw the possibilities for such a community in the Douglas Shire.

“The Douglas Shire has a high demographic of retired people, and over the past few years that I have lived here, I hadn’t really come across any establishment that catered for retirees in the way U3A could,” said Ms Percic.

Following a series of discussions, a steering committee was formed in February and in March a highly successful Meet and Greet was held where some 70 people attended.

‘We have been overwhelmed by the interest, enthusiasm and support of the Douglas Shire community.”

U3A Douglas Shire will be launched on Monday 19 April at 2.00pm at the Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course. The community has been invited and U3A Cairns will be in attendance to address the launch. 

Ms Percic said learning in our latter years has proven not only to benefit our physical health, but our overall wellbeing.

“There is much written about the economic benefits of retirees in a community, and with the response and enthusiasm we have seen in our community, we look forward to positive outcomes.

“Our first classes will comprise Creative Writing, Learn to Sketch, Learn Mahjong and iPhones for seniors. We will have monthly morning or afternoon tea with guest speakers and monthly lunch dates in different settings in the Shire with themed conversations,” she said.

‘Douglas Shire Council has been supportive, sharing information through their networks, and we are working with Douglas Libraries negotiating sharing their space, a few cafes are excited to share some of their nooks, and we are entering into negotiations with some community service areas to rent their space,” said Ms Percic.

The Third Age is now considered by many to be the “golden years” of adulthood. It is generally defined as the span of time between retirement and the beginning of age-imposed physical, emotional, and cognitive limitations, and today would roughly fall between the ages of 65 and 80+.

Further information: douglasshire.u3acairnsincgmailcom 

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