Establishing your U3A

First Steps

We are happy to help you with your first steps.  Please send an inquiry email or contact a U3A near you for advice.  The following will give you some information to help you get started.

Your first step will be to hold a Public Meeting to gauge the interest in your community. If you cannot arouse public interest, there is little point in proceeding any further. Some suggested steps towards holding your Public Meeting:

  • A good place to start is at your Regional Council, as they will often help with publicity and a venue at little or no cost. The best venue is one that is easily accessible both by public transport, and with convenient car parking
  • Publicity is all-important. You must make sure that the local community is aware of the proposed formation, and your local library, local newspaper(s), local radio, and local television are good options for publicity. Local businesses and community organisations may also be prepared to display your posters to advertise the Public Meeting. Don't forget to talk about your intentions to anybody and everybody in your community who will listen. You just cannot have too much publicity.

Your first meeting

The Network committee will assist you to organise this meeting and can provide a speaker to explain what U3A is about. Presentations by other U3A members could demonstrate possible class activities. For the Public Meeting itself, you must organise it well so that it will run smoothly. Things to consider are:

  1. Explain clearly what your aims are
  2. Arrange a speaker from another U3A who can talk about the aims, objectives, and operations of a U3A. Try to find one who is reasonably close to your community.
  3. Elect a steering committee from those who attend the meeting, and arrange for them to start meeting regularly soon after the meeting.
  4. Record names and addresses of all persons attending who show interest in joining, and, if possible sign up as many as possible, both to capture the moment, and to give the fledgling body some income, once the committee has met to set a membership fee for the first year.
  5. Prime objectives of the steering committee should be to organise a few courses to start as soon as possible, and suitable venues for them, so that the initial impetus is not lost. Your Regional Council or local schools are the best places to start looking for venues, as both control suitable venues that are often under utilised or unused. U3A Network Queensland have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) which could prove invaluable in dealing with your local Council.
Getting up and running

With your Public Meeting behind you, and confident that you have sufficient support for a potential viable membership, you must start making the decisions that will shape your U3A. Involve as many people as possible in the decision-making. The more volunteer workers you can attract from your membership, the better placed your U3A will be for development as they will quickly appreciate that it IS a self-help organisation, and they will get more out of it by putting more into it.

Before you go any further, you now need to call a General Meeting of members so that they can democratically elect your first formal Committee. You will need to call for nominations for executive positions:

  • President,
  • Vice-President,
  • Secretary, and
  • Treasurer

You will also need a number of general Committee members who may agree to take on certain roles to help your U3A function.

Because this is the first election of officers, and some people are already running the Steering Committee, it is quite likely the newly elected Committee will be the same as the existing Steering Committee, but it does not have to be. The important issue is that the Committee must be democratically elected from among the membership. Remember that you must not only do things correctly but must be seen to be doing so.

Be meticulous in your dealings both with your members and with the general public.

Insurance

An issue that your Committee must address very early is one of insurance. Our society is becoming increasingly litigious, and your U3A and its members must be protected by insurance that, at the least, covers public liability, directors, tutors, volunteers, and a small accident cover for volunteers.

In the first year Insurance cover for the new U3A can be arranged at low cost from the U3A Network committee. contact our Treasurer.

Constitution

A very important decision to be made now is the structure of your U3A. Try & draft a Constitution as soon as you can so everyone knows the Rules & By-laws, so avoiding confusion. The Office of Fair Trading has a model constitution (able to be downloaded) upon which your constitution can be built. The advantages of this is that it will be approved earlier and that your application for Incorporation should proceed more smoothly.  Many U3As have already done this, so seek help & advice from a nearby group.

Remember that the more rules and by-laws you adopt, the greater the restrictions you will be placing on your membership in the future.

It pays to be cautious here, and to adopt the minimum necessary to function.

Incorporation

You will need to decide whether or not to Incorporate your association under the Associations Incorporation Act. This will involve payment of a small fee but it does protect your committee members and your organisation. More information about incorporation is available on another page within this section.

If you decide to incorporate, The Network may have funds to assist with this procedure.

If you incorporate you will need to appoint an Honorary Auditor.

Details of how to incorporate may be obtained from the Office of Fair Trading, whose website at http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/ contains all the information you will need to apply for incorporation.