The U3A Asia Pacific Brisbane conference was a very warm, informative, professionally organised and 'internationally' influenced occasion. There were six attendees from Victoria, including U3A Victoria's President Elsie Mutton and some other members who, like me, had included the conference on their trip north to 'warmer climes'. The conference was on the U3A international conference calendar, as there is an active network of nationally based U3A's in the Asia Pacific Region; and there were also international presenters from Singapore, the United Kingdom and France. The conference program; presentations and photographs are available on the conference website.
I had noticed U3A Network Victoria's upcoming Bicentennial Conference advertisement on their website and sitting at the same table at Brisbane's wonderful conference dinner, Elsie Mutton encouraged me to attend. Before long I had registered for this conference too and had found a great 'Wot If' special rate for the conference venue - the Rendezvous Hotel in Flinders Street. This conference, held just last week, proved to be equally interesting and possibly even more relevant to my understanding of the issues facing and interests of our U3A in Benalla and District. I have written up quite a long report on the Melbourne conference and do hope that some of you find it interesting and informative to read.
Both conferences left me full of ideas and with a greater depth of understanding of U3A philosophy and practice. Both conferences provided sessions relating to digital inclusion, which is an interest of mine. I even won a 'Smartphone' after putting my name into a box at the Go Digi exhibit in Brisbane! This led to contact with the Go Digi project worker in Melbourne and an invitation to Go Digi to present at the recent Digital Literacy Information Session in Shepparton. I was thrilled meet a number of 'writing group' convenors (a role which I picked up this year), particularly the convenor of the Toowoomba Writing group on which we have modelled the development of our group this year.
The Melbourne conference was incredibly valuable. Themes including the U3A of the future, positive ageing, communities of learning, digital inclusion and intergenerational learning were addressed by a range of speakers in challenging and thought provoking ways with considerable practical relevance in our Victorian setting. I have already been able to share some of my learning in discussions with others and can see great scope to continue to do so over time.
I would like to thank the Executive Committee who, when they found out that I had booked in to these conferences, offered to pay the conference registration fees. I hadn't expected this - but they were appreciative of someone being available to represent Benalla. I highly recommend the experience and do hope that more members are able to attend in the coming years. All being well, as a dedicated conference groupie, I'll probably be there too!
25 August 2015