U3A Banyule is one of the oldest U3A campuses in Victoria. It was launched as a campus for the North-Eastern Regional suburbs under its original name of Yarra Valley U3A in July 1986. The foundation members numbered 59. At a meeting in the Condor Room of the Heidelberg Town Hall, a steering committee of 19 members established what has today become a thriving U3A of over 700 members offering over 120 courses and activities covering a wide variety of interests. It is founded on the policy that members volunteer their services to ensure the organisation operates for the benefit of all members. In 2014, U3A Banyule was the proud recipient of the Banyule Volunteer Group Award.
The underlying ethos of U3A is mutual learning, with members contributing to the organisation in many different ways such as volunteering as subject tutors, sitting on the committee of management, assisting in the office, organising speakers for public lectures, organising venues for classes. Membership of U3A is for community members generally from the over 50 age group who are retired or semi-retired, in the “Third Age or Golden Years” of their life. U3A Banyule membership covers a broad range of cultural backgrounds and is proud to have a number of nonagenarian members, highlighting the fact that you’re never too old to acquire new knowledge and skills. Members pay an annual fee of $45 and can participate in a wide range of activities. This is excellent value for money.
During the COVID19 pandemic, U3A Banyule has had to curtail many of its activities and not conduct classes for members. One of the great things about being a member of U3A is that it provides a way to connect with others and share conversation and friendship. In an effort to fill the gap during the restrictions we have been living under in lockdown 1 and 2, a weekly, then fortnightly newsletter, has been put together with contributions from members and stories of interest and sent out to members, both online and via hand delivery to those who don’t have access to technology. The purpose has been to keep members connected to their U3A Community at a challenging time for everyone and the newsletter has been extremely well received and appreciated by members. Recently under the current restrictions, a number of classes are being conducted via Zoom technology and this has allowed members to feel a closer connection to others.
U3A Banyule will be relocating its office from the Community Hall in Ivanhoe Parade to the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub once the new facility is ready for us to move into later in 2020. This will be an exciting move for U3A and the organisation is very much looking forward to new opportunities to reach out further into the community.