LAST year members of Mildura’s U3A, The University of the Third Age, were forced to find an alternative for their classes, after SuniTAFE informed the group that they could no longer provide classroom space for their activities.

This came as a big blow to U3A, who were then without anywhere to hold their classes and potentially spelled the end of the group.

Fortunately the Mildura Freemasons Lodge in Irymple has come to the rescue, making their facilities available to the U3A to conduct their classes, which commenced again this week.

U3A committee member Judy Morris said that they were extremely grateful to the Mason’s for allowing them to use the centre, which they have undertaken on a commercial basis.

“The Masons have been wonderful in allowing us to use their rooms. They really have come to our rescue,” Judy said.

“Eventually our aim is to have our own premises, and we are in discussion with Council to see how they might assist us.”

U3A needs to firstly find some land and then build a facility, something that will be a challenge without the assistance of Council and Government, unless a generous benefactor comes to the fore.

Mildura Freemasons Lodge building chairman Kevin McKee said his organisation was delighted to have U3A utilising its facilities.

“It’s fantastic. Especially after COVID, as our bookings had done an inward-inverted dive and so our income dropped significantly and our overheads are considerable − it’s not a cheap place to run,” Kevin said.

“U3A needed a place and we needed a good tenant and we couldn’t get a better one than U3A. We really couldn’t.”
“It rescued both of us and it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The U3A group provides a wonderful service for seniors, who are able to undertake a variety of activities, including learning computer skills, creative writing, art and craft, patchwork, singing, bridge, cooking and many others.

The annual membership fee is $50, which helps to cover some of the group’s overheads. Volunteer tutors conduct the classes and anyone is welcome to join, particularly the over 55s.

“Before COVID struck and prevented our classes from continuing, we had almost 400 members and now we are resuming we need to build those numbers back up again,” Judy said.

“We actually help Council because our activities help keep people active and healthy, and also keep them from needing home care.
“Apart from the classes, we have a lot of social events and outings which people enjoy.”

U3A publicity officer Judy Hyde said that U3A Mildura has been running for more than 25 years.

“It was established by SuniTAFE’s CEO at the time, who believed that after people retired they needed to keep their brain active and be engaged in activities and new learning,” Judy said.

“It is a wonderful interest to have. It gets people out of their homes and they meet new people and make new friends and importantly keeps the mind active.”

Judy said other groups were recommencing their activities including the Merbein Citizens Club who are back hosting Bridge teams games.

“The Recorder Group is back practising at the Band Hall and in other good news the U3A Art Group is still able to use the facilities at SuniTAFE,” Judy said.

For further information or to join U3A online visit: www.u3aonline.org.au/location/u3a-sunraysia-inc