President’s Message – September 2020

Photo: Office Coordinator Jennifer Strike with volunteer Mary Ann Wright

Dear Members,

Welcome to our latest edition of e-Voice, celebrating the successful conclusion of Term 3. And what an amazing achievement, when other U3As have found their activities curtailed or stopped, we have managed to keep going for the entire term. A very big “thank you” to our volunteer tutors, who have been helping to keep us safe with active Covid-19 prevention plans, physically distanced seating arrangements, and the use of hand sanitisers and wipes for chairs and tables. Table Tennis tutors even checked every player’s temperature before they were allowed to play.

Since our AGM on August 8th, negotiations for what was previously entitled ‘U3A Office Manager’ have been ongoing with our office day leaders who, along with their team of volunteers, keep our U3A office running at the University of the Sunshine Coast. We now have a very successful outcome, with two of our Day Leaders volunteering to share the role. Jennifer Strike, Day Leader for Tuesday, has offered to take on the new title of ‘Office Coordinator’ and Karen Martin, Day Leader for Wednesday, will take on the supporting role of ‘Project Officer’. Both these volunteers bring with them a broad range of experience not only as office volunteers but also as employees in the business world. I thank both Jennifer and Karen for taking on these roles and I hope they enjoy the work entailed for our wonderful organisation. I know you will give them your support and also show them your appreciation.

This last term I have been attending the lectures hosted by Brian Holliday at the North Shore Community Centre, which is run by friendly and helpful staff. The lectures have been excellent and thanks must go to Lyn Lovell, who has the uncanny ability to track down and organize most interesting speakers for our benefit.

Just one such speaker is the much honoured and awarded polar explorer, Syd Kirkby. In his topic ‘Australia’s Frozen Frontier’ he shared some of his experiences as a surveyor working in the Australian Antarctic Territory during the 1950s and 1960s, exploring where no other human had ever been before, and as an expedition leader in the late 1970s. A wonderfully relaxed raconteur, his story about the Emperor Penguins’ domestic arrangements and child-rearing practices was charming.

We are singularly fortunate here on the Sunshine Coast to have access to such vibrant men and women, octogenarians and older, who are willing to share their extraordinary life experiences with us. Please take advantage of this opportunity while it is available.

Your executive members took up the opportunity to meet the University’s third Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett for the first time. As our U3A has an excellent relationship with our USC host, we were very keen to meet her. Formerly Vice-Chancellor and President of Federation University Australia in Ballarat, Professor Bartlett is still chair of the Regional Universities Network, and as such, has transformed the V.C. office into a giant media centre with huge screens to run effective Australia-wide Zoom meetings.

Professor Bartlett is also a gerontologist who, during a period at the University of Queensland established the Australasian Centre on Ageing. She made us feel very welcome as we expressed our appreciation for the USC’s ongoing support, and advised her about our contribution to the university, via our bursaries, and as research clients or nursing patients. We have already invited her to be our guest speaker at next year’s AGM.

We hope that you have all enjoyed your membership of U3A in Term 3. Enjoy your break and see you back again in Term 4. Remember, our organization functions entirely on volunteers. We are always looking for new people to sign up for a stint in the office, or draw on their life’s experience to present a two hour lecture, or if you enjoy meeting new people and asking questions, perhaps you may even consider joining the Communication team as a photo-journalist for e-Voice or Facebook…

Glyni Cumming
President U3A Sunshine Coast