12 March 2021

GOOD NEWS: U3A activities are getting back to a ‘normal’

“I have been very pleased to be hearing so many stories of the activities for your members getting underway in February 2021. There are still COVID-19 compliance issues to be addressed and we are all contemplating how and when we will be able to choose to be vaccinated. Please access Email via our Contact Us page – I’d like to hear from you.”     

Laurene Mulcahy. President U3A Network NSW Inc.

Again it is some months since our last bulletin where we noted the need for COVID Safety Plans and the use of Zoom as a Covid Safe means of engaging with your members.

An article published in The Conversation on March 11   “After a year of pain, here’s how the COVID-19 pandemic could play out in 2021 and beyond” provides some perceptions on what the future may look like.

“The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19. However, we need to continue to study the vaccines after being rolled out (conducting so-called post-implementation studies) in 2021 and beyond. This is to determine how long protection lasts, whether we need booster doses, how well vaccines work in children and the impact of vaccines on viral transmission.

Until we achieve high levels of population immunity via vaccination, in 2021 we must maintain individual and societal measures, such as masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene; improve indoor ventilation; and strengthen outbreak responses — testing, contact tracing and isolation.

However, there are already signs of complacency and much misinformation to counter, especially for vaccine uptake. So we must continue to address both these barriers.”

The Network wishes all of our Member U3As a safe and happy year and each of your 30,000 or so members a fulfilling U3A year.


3 November 2020

CAUTION is the message in spite of COVID-19 being quiet

“As 2020 the Year of The Virus is heading towards the holiday season, I’ve been pleased to hear that many U3As have kept in touch with their members and have continued with the provision of activities, albeit with a reduced program. The Network needs to keep hearing from those who are participants and those who are organisers of interesting and innovative activities. Please access Email via our Contact Us page – I’d like to hear from you.”      Laurene Mulcahy. President U3A Network NSW Inc.

It is three months since our last bulletin and we are hearing many reports of U3A Associations developing programs that address the NSW Department of Health rules and allow members to engage in Covid-Safe activities. Some U3As have chosen to go into recess as venue options have diminished or the requirements of COVID Safety Plans and the associated responsibilities were too onerous. For some video ‘meeting’ tools such as Zoom have provided a ‘stay at home’ option for presentations and other activities.  As well as ‘the usual’ we’ve heard of exercise groups in Zoom mode.

The NSW Government’s websites do provide information that is both helpful and necessary for Incorporated Associations.  This site is the NSW Government’s starting point for COVID-19 information, you need to click (and likely click quite a few times) to track down what can be applied to your U3A situation, some examples:

…and many more.


6 August 2020

Observations as things start to look more complex

“In spite of some optimism the COVID-19 virus situation has become more complex in the last 4 weeks leading many of our Member U3A associations to truncate or even cease their plans to offer face-to-face sessions during Term 3 and, some are thinking, for the rest of 2020.  The virus continues to impact our demographic as over 60s are much more vulnerable to its destructive impact on our bodies.”  Laurene Mulcahy. President U3A Network NSW Inc.

Many U3As have embraced keep in touch strategies and some are using Zoom to conduct video sessions.

For ‘traditional’ group U3A activities all U3A Committees must address the current regulations that are available from the NSW Department of Health Home page. This information addresses gatherings of the style that U3A conducts. If using another party’s premises for U3A activities the U3A Committee must ensure that the owner of the premises holds and is satisfying the requirements of an appropriate COVID-19 Action Plan (records of inspection of premises and of documentation sighted should be held by the U3A Committee). Attendance sheets must be maintained to allow contact tracking should the need arise.

The Commonwealth Department of Health Publications page has valuable information on the impact of the virus, how to go about various activities and practical advice such as Coronavirus (COVID-19) – How to make a cloth mask.

Graphs like the one above bring home to all who are involved with U3A the need for calibrated caution in all that we plan in these difficult times.  A risk management matrix has been prepared to guide U3A Associations with the process of evaluation of risk taking into account both Age-Related Risk and Health-Related Risk Tiers. Click the matrix image below to download the resource.


18 June 2020

Key points

Addendum to the Network’s “Can Network advise when we can reopen?” We are attaching an Addendum to the guide forwarded to you on Monday. The link in this guide provides detail of a Checklist that may be used in conjunction with your NSW Government COVID-19 Safety Plan for your venue. We hope this will further assist.

In discussions this morning with Government, for greater clarity it may be noted that the guide provided Monday, including the Addendum is current. We were further advised that reference to “seated only” did not apply to the current use of Community Halls. In addition the details of the use of venues from 1 July is still to be prescribed.

The wording previously used referring to “seated only” may be specifically for function centres, dancing etc.  A comparison with physical activities, Tai Chi, gyms etc. was made.

Refer to the COVID-19 Network Memo dated 20 June 2020 adding to the advice given to U3A Committees on 15 June 2020 with both documents referring to the need to take into account the requirements of the NSW Government in planning any resumption of activities (see 6.5 COVID-19 Liability Implications on the website).


15 June 2020

“Can Network advise when we can reopen?”

Key points

As restrictions ease, in some instances several times a week, it is understandable that the above enquiry is front of mind for many.  The short answer to the above question is unfortunately NO.

Network cannot provide U3A Committees with advice as conducting courses in these times of the current health restrictions does have risk.  It does provide a possible move towards 20 people in community sessions and I suggest they could augment by adding Zoom to the static event.  So some good news, plus it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment.

Please refer to the COVID-19 Network Memo dated 15 June 2020 where the above advice to U3A Committees has added details about the requirements of the NSW Government in planning any resumption of activities (see 6.5 COVID-19 Liability Implications on this website).


20 May 2020

The curves have ‘flattened’

The Confirmed Cases curve below continues to evidence the flattening of the new cases of COVID-19 for Australians, with its hovering at less than 10 new diagnoses per day.  The death toll has just reached 100 after some weeks in the nineties. Families continue to grieve due to the loss of loved ones.

Both Australia and New Zealand have a death rate of around 4 people per 1 million population. Thankfully our leaders have acted upon professional health advice and, in comparison, the rates in other countries are disturbing; UK 521 per million, USA 282 per million and Canada 157 per million. Source: 20 May 2020.

The graph above, dated 15 May, evidences that COVID-19 ‘targets’ the over 60’s age groups, it is somewhat our virus!  Source:  Even with some relaxation in the rules this 74 year old is going to remain diligent and cautious.


4 May 2020

Debate and more debate

Same words as last Monday’s bulletin. Since the last bulletin another 12 deaths, mainly in the over-60s age groups, have been recorded. Our thoughts are with those who are so sadly affected by COVID-19 and with those who are unable to gain access to their loved ones. The children returning to school is causing much debate. The move to a non-distanced arrangement will if successful endorse the change. If more infections occur it will likely cause a u-turn and worryingly it appears the teachers and other staff may be the most at risk.
ABC Coronacast “With restrictions in some states slightly lifted, does that mean we’re finally turning a corner on the coronavirus pandemic? Possibly, but the next 14 days will be crucial.”

Source: SMH and others as displayed.


29 April 2020

COVID-19 Liability Implications

Attention: Member U3As please Download this guide to COVID-19 The Liability Implications for Member U3A Committees

The document is referenced at 6. Further Guidance to Legal Matters 6.5 COVID-19 Liability Implications on the  Good Governance Resources page on this website.


27 April 2020

Much talk about easing the lock down

Since the last bulletin another 12 deaths, mainly in the over-60s age groups, have been recorded. The media is sharing some of personal stories of sadness and loss. “While Australia has succeeded in flattening the curve, one of the biggest concerns is the more than 500 COVID-19 cases where no source can be traced.” ABC News 27 Apr. We continue to hear much about the known about COVID-19 and it seems there ‘s much yet to be learnt. Does an infection create an immune response? The experts are unsure. Australians have heeded the good advice from our health experts and elected leaders.

Source: SMH and others as displayed. COVID19DATA.COM.AU is worth a visit.

The Confirmed Cases data is maintaining the trend of less than 10 cases per day. Just 30 days ago, 460 cases were reported on 28 March.


20 April 2020

Looking at recoveries

The data trend is pleasing, new cases are down, the recovery figures are increasing while the death toll number continues to be distressing.  Looking at data from and the SMH the death toll has doubled in 2 weeks, from 35 (6 April) to 71, our thoughts are with those who are so sadly affected by COVID-19. The first graph (below) is demonstrating what we all wish to hear, people are recovering. In Australia we have much to be thankful for and we certainly appreciate our fellow citizens that are in front line – healthcare workers through to services like food retailers. We trust they are all able to keep safe!

Source: SMH and others as displayed. COVID19DATA.COM.AU is worth a visit.

The Confirmed Cases data is maintaining the trend of less than 50 cases per day.


15 April 2020

The numbers are changing

Sadly 62 have died in Australia and the age profile is, as has been emphasised, in the 60-69, 70-79, 80-89 age bands.  The second graph below shows it is really hitting the ‘U3A demographic‘ and it underpins the importance of social distancing for us all.  Those under 60 are recovering!  Numerically it means that 61 of the 62 deaths to date in Australia are from, you guessed it, the 60 years plus demographic!

Graphic: Australian Government – Department of Health. Sourced 15 April 2020

Source: SMH and others as displayed. COVID19DATA.COM.AU is worth a visit.

On a positive note the Confirmed Cases data is trending less than 50 per day.


9 April 2020

It seems to be all about staying at home

Here we are on the cusp of Easter and in our midst everything has changed as we take on living with COVID-19.

Stay at home is both the message and the INSTRUCTION and there’s comprehensive advice from the NSW Government on the key aspects of the rules. (Other States have similar resources.)

Today’s (9 April) Sydney Morning Herald has a two page feature that has a telling headline that recognises human behaviour:  Here are the COVID-19 rules – stop looking for loopholes.  In a question and answer format it gives advice on what we can or cannot do, and pretty much proves the words “sorry no loopholes”.

The SMH also reports 50 deaths in Australia to COVID-19 to April 8, while the Confirmed Cases graph continues to trend in an optimistic direction, that is, as each day passes fewer cases are being reported. For 8 April the reported cases are at around 100, a figure that was last seen around 18 March.

Coronavirus Data 8 April 2020

Source: SMH and others as displayed. COVID19DATA.COM.AU is worth a visit.


6 April 2020

Some signs for optimism

The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline on Saturday 4 April said “Australia on track to avoid coronavirus catastrophe: expert   – ‘We will now see the benefits’: Case increase slows as lockdown takes effect

The page 1 article continued “Australia may have avoided the disastrous COVID-19 outbreaks experienced in Italy and the US, with a leading expert saying the national daily growth in new confirmed cases could potentially drop to double digits within nine days.”

Tellingly the SMH advised us all If you feel like you are overdoing it as a county or city or you yourself, then that is the right feeling. And then, overdo it more, and you are still not overdoing it.

Sadly today’s (6 April) SMH reports 35 deaths in Australia to COVID-19, while today’s Confirmed Cases graph continues to trend in an optimistic direction, that is, as each day passes fewer cases are being reported. Let’s all hope the trend continues.

Coronavirus Data 5 April 2020 Source: SMH and others as displayed. COVID19DATA.COM.AU is worth a visit.


2  April 2020

Latest NEWS about the ‘lockdown’

Today at 9 am NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has revealed the state’s tough coronavirus lockdown laws will be lifted in 90 days (1 July 2020). 

The news comes as Premier Gladys Berejiklian praised people for helping flatten the COVID-19 curve in Australia’s worst-affected state.

The ABC News page Charting the COVID-19 spread in Australia is dynamic and it will be “updated daily to show the spread of the disease across Australia’s states and territories”.

Today on the page, the second graph displayed, New confirmed cases, daily count is showing a hint of a downward trend.

1 April 2020

“If coronavirus cases don’t grow any faster, our health system will probably cope”

On Monday The Conversation featured this story. “The growth in COVID-19 cases in Australia appears to have slowed across all states, through a combination of tighter border control and spatial distancing.”

“With the number of new cases each day growing at a slower rate, there is a chance the pandemic can be brought under control and dealt with in our existing public hospital system – even without help from the private system.”



25 March 2020

It is up to us ALL!

Published today, this ‘to the point‘ explanation of the importance of Social Distancing and to put it bluntly it advises “just stay home”.  To quote  “Coronavirus will continue to spread virtually unchecked unless at least eight in 10 Australians stay home as much as possible.”  Click the link to the ABC story based upon research from the University of Sydney: It’s up to you: data shows coronavirus can only be controlled if eight out of 10 Aussies stay home

Visit our Remote Learning page for detailed reports on dealing with COVID-19 (Coronarvirus).


25 March 2020

In Times of Adversity

Stephen a member of Southlakes U3A shares his thoughts garnered by experience in Lagos, Nigeria in the period of The Western African Ebola virus epidemic (2013–2016). He reminds us that this was the most widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in history. Worldwide, 28,646 people were infected and 11,323 died.”  Download In Times of Adversity – a Nigerian experience.

Stephen’s sharing of his personal experience and thoughts about the process we are ‘journeying through’ will add a dimension to our first-world event by looking at a third-world experience.  He gives us some “takeaways” that maybe helpful for us all to ponder in our current situation.


21 March 2020

Social Distancing or Self-isolation

Coming to terms with the advice to embrace Social Distancing or, if necessary, Self-isolation. The Federal Department of Health has produced advisory bulletins (linked below) for each situation.

What is social distancing and why is it important?

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

Department of Health advice on Social Distancing

What is self-isolation (self-quarantine)?

Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it, other than for exercise. Don’t go to work, school or public areas during this time. If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials. If you are unable to get supplies delivered, you should do what you can to limit social contact when you do leave the house.

You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:

  • you have COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020

If you do not need to self-isolate, you should still protect yourself and others.

Department of Health advice on Self-Isolation


19 March 2020

This bulletin is not about a cancellation or an alert it is about caring for our U3A members.

Laurene Mulcahy, President

Keep in Touch – Create a Phone Tree

Quite a few of the members of our NSW U3A associations may be finding their weeks very quiet with many or indeed all U3As suspending their events and or courses due to Coronavirus.

Social distancing means that we do not meet up with others, how about the telephone?

Some U3As may consider a “keep in touch” initiative termed a “Phone Tree” to maintain contact with, say older members*, over 75 years, by promoting the opportunity to request a U3A neighbourly phone call (say Monday, Wednesday and Friday) if they are feeling unduly isolated due to the current health alerts. The “Tree” can also be between class members where one member calls another and then the receiver phones another member and this continues until everyone has been phoned. Each member must agree to be part of the “Tree” and be willing to share their phone number with one or more members.

* pretty much any member that doesn’t use the Internet, lives alone and makes U3A an important part of their week.


16 March 2020

2020 Conference Cancelled

Network Executive and the Committee met urgently yesterday and resolved “That the 2020 Annual Conference at Shellharbour be cancelled based on the high health risk of contracting the Coronavirus, the potential for financial risk to the Network if the Conference was to continue and the prospect that there will be further Governmental interventions affecting public gatherings”.

President Laurene Mulcahy added “the welfare of members was paramount in this decision. Obviously this is of great disappointment to many but more particularly to Robin Hodgins and her Committee at Shellharbour for all their hard work and devotion to the organisation of the Conference. Advice will be sent to all U3A Associations about refund of fees.”


15 March 2020

Taking into account the warnings of Health Authorities, and recognising the Australian Government is using words like “including vulnerable groups such as the elderly”  each U3A association should carefully consider the risks that may accrue from one of their members, who has unknowingly contracted COVID-19, participating in a U3A activity. U3A associations may choose to highlight concerns that a returning traveller may have on the health of others should they be carrying the virus.

Further, factoring in the Government’s advice about gatherings of the greater than 500 people, although not specifically applying to group sizes typical in U3A at this time it may be prudent for Member U3As to suspend all activities until Thursday 9 April 2020 [Easter], again taking into account our age demographic.

This recommendation is subject to Review and Update.


10 March 2020

U3A Network NSW is assessing advice on how U3As might best minimise potential risks to our members from the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we recognise that U3A Committees and members share a duty of one and other, to act in a manner that is caring and supportive and as such Network considers it appropriate to recommend some prudent guidelines, outlined below. This information is general and U3A Network NSW recognises that the advice from the Australian Government and the NSW Government must be regarded by us all as the primary source of up to date information. Click this link to download the displayed document.

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