Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Constituency Statement: University of the Third Age

This morning I take the opportunity to speak about some very significant organisations in my electorate, the first being U3A Croydon, or the University of the Third Age, which has a mission to provide retired or semiretired people with opportunities to stay physically, mentally and socially active. U3A Croydon is one of the largest in the electorate and is joined by two others in the Deakin electorate: U3A Ringwood, established about 40-odd years ago, and U3A Nunawading, established 30-odd years ago. They combined have around 2,000 members, more than 200 courses and over 100 tutors, who freely volunteer their time. They provide an environment for retired people to be inspired to learn and also, importantly, to develop new friendships and relationships with people who have been similarly inspired. Because of the service of these volunteers, courses are provided at little or no cost, making them accessible for the broader community.

In August I was very fortunate to visit Croydon U3A. I’m always impressed to hear what they have to say about their growth, the breadth of their courses and the health of their organisation. Founded in 1992, Croydon U3A continues to grow, and is growing at an exponential rate at the moment. They have around 1,000 members who utilise 80 tutors and about 100 different courses that provide both intellectual and physical engagement. The reality for U3A Croydon is they are spread over a number of sites. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage the sheer demand of the people that want to use their services and be a part of it. I committed to them to do everything I can to help Croydon U3A find additional facilities even if we have to build new facilities to support them and their work. I particularly mention those who I spoke to on that day, who have been doing an outstanding job at Croydon U3A, including the president, Jenny Higgins; the vice-president, Shane Watson; the secretary, Christine Hawkins; and the treasurer, Sue Martin for their work. There is a much larger committee, and dozens of tutors providing about 100 courses. It is a team effort, but the leadership of Croydon U3A is very strong. That’s why we’ve partly committed to doing everything we can to help them have the facilities they need to deliver as many courses as they can to the increasing number of people who want to use Croydon U3A as a great outlet.

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