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U3A Celebrates 30 years on Bribie

Story and pictures by Alistair Gray

We extend our hearty congratulations to the many U3A volunteers and students who recently celebrated U3A’s thirtieth anniversary on Bribie with a weekend of events. I was lucky enough to attend their anniversary lunch and hear some stories.

U3A (The University of the Third Age) is an international organisation that encourages older citizens, those in their ‘third’ age of life, to share their knowledge, skills and experience in a friendly, supportive environment. As a result, new friendships flourish with a focus on learning and expanding individual horizons.

The courses offered are extensive and varied ranging from art classes to history, economics, dance, Shakespeare, language and music. There is something for almost everyone. The range of programmes is constantly changing as new tutors appear and new subjects introduced. I found a very needs-based organisation delivering courses depending on the various demands and interests of the members.

Barry Clark, a well-known local historian and long-time U3A member gave a lively talk about the history of U3A and the organisation’s rapid growth in Bribie. Initially starting 49-years-ago in France, there are now 3,000 U3A’s around the world in 64 countries. Australia has 220, with 35 in Queensland. Thanks to the hard work of the many volunteers, Bribie now has one of the largest U3A’s in the world.

Bribie U3A was first formed in 1992 by Arnold and Bette Monteau, who held classes in a room in the Neighbourhood Centre, running 7 classes with 41 members. By 2000 they had more than 300 students and offered 30 different courses moving to new premises at ‘Monteau House’ on the South Esplanade, Bongaree. In 2003, as the demand for space grew they applied for permanent space at the recreation hall from the local Caboolture Council. U3A’s request coincided with the council’s plans to upgrade the hall for use by various sporting groups in the area, taking about 11 years to complete the upgrade work. In 2009 they received a $12,000 grant from the Gambling Fund enabling U3A to offer computer classes. By 2013 the group had outgrown their purpose-built facilities, applying to the Moreton Bay Regional Council for help. With the approval of the significant expansion plans, the existing facilities were built and opened by Councillor Gary Parsons. Membership skyrocketed to 1600 members in 2016 and now in 2022 has more than 2100 members offering more than 150 different courses and programs.

During the luncheon, Councillor Brooke Savige congratulated the Bribie U3A group on achieving their 30th anniversary and spoke about the importance of U3As’ strong connection to the community. “We do have the best U3A in the world”, Brooke said. “U3A Bribie Island is what it is today because of the many hardworking volunteers that came before us. U3A will continue to thrive because of the work of volunteers both now and into the future”.

Following Brooke’s address, past President Anne Brooks presented Ailsa Gaffy with life membership for her tireless years of volunteer work for the organisation.

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