Speakers at U3A Network Conference 2023

Informative and entertaining discourse

Speakers at the Conference come from wide ranging backgrounds but with a focus on society and the exciting future for people as they age.
Listed below are the profiles of these excellent presenters.

Professor Francois VELLAS
President AIUTA

“U3A in the Beginning and our Future”

Professor François Vellas is the President of the International Association of Universities of Third Age (AIUTA) and Director of the University of Third Age (U3A) of Toulouse, France. He is a PhD in Economics and UN/EU/WTO Expert in Elderly and Tourism Policy and Strategy.
Professor Vellas’ background includes:
· is involved with U3A’s scientific events on medical, wellness and seniors in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, including organisations such as the United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), UNESCO and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
· chaired the International Conference on Senior Tourism at World Senior Tourism Congress (WSTC) with U3As in Yantai China from 2017 to 2019
· has vast experience of analysing international elderly policies, air transport and tourism
· is the author of a dozen books and numerous reports on international elderly and tourism cooperation including “e transport aérien”, and “Echange international et qualification du travail” (Economica – Paris), “International tourism: an economic perspective” and “The international marketing of travel and tourism” (MacMillan – London, with L. Becherel) and on the politics and economy of international tourism “Economie et Politique du Tourisme International” (Economica –Paris).

Professor Maria CHESTER
Secretary General AIUTA

“U3A Today”

Professor Maria Chester is the Secretary General of the International Association of Universities of Third Age (AIUTA). Her presentation will be via video link at the Conference.

After studying Fine Arts, Maria decided to go deeper and studied Art History becoming a Professor in Pre-Columbian Civilisations. From her first passion, Cave Art and Rock Art, Professor Chester developed an interest in archaeology, and this has served as a frame for her ongoing research.  She is multilingual and enjoys travelling and has taught in several South American universities as well as private institutions.

Maria has served as the National Subject Adviser on American Archaeology to the Third Age Trust and joined East Berwickshire U3A where she became its Chairman.

In 2015, Maria became a founding member of the IC-International Committee to the Third Age Trust in the United Kingdom and in May 2016 she was elected Secretary General of AIUTA—International Association or Universities of the Third Age.

Maria also  tutors regular courses on Art History for BEA-Berwick Educational Association; works for Berwick Visual Arts delivering lectures and guided tours on seasonal exhibitions at The Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed, England; and has been an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society in London since 2018.  Recently, she was invited to become part of the team of Art Historical London, which delivers virtual talks about art to the world.  She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina but travelled the world.  She has lived for 20 years in Caracas, Venezuela where her daughter Ines was born in 1988.  Since 2003, Mara lives in the Scottish Borders, Scotland.

Co-founder of U3A in Australia

“U3A arrives in Australia”

Cliff Picton was a co-founder of U3A in Australia (1984) and has a long involvement in gerontology, including two terms on the Victorian Government’s Ministerial Advisory Council of Senior Victorians.

Prior to his retirement, Cliff was Ombudsman at La Trobe University, Melbourne from 2004 – 2015.  He has also served as Associate Dean International and Head of School of Social Work and Social Policy.

Currently Cliff is a member of the Board of Trustees of Community and Family Services International at Manila based NGO.  This reflects a 30-year involvement in work with refugees and socially displaced people

U3A Sunshine Coast

“Early History of U3A Network  Queensland”

Jim Hales, a past President of U3A Sunshine Coast, initiated the establishment of the U3A Network in Queensland and served as its President for the first three years. His presentation will cover the history of the establishment of the U3A Network Queensland, and touch on the history of the first U3A Association to be formed in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane in 1986.

In 2002, Jim retired to the Sunshine Coast after working at the University of Queensland as Department of Agriculture Field Research Services manager and part-time Animal Science lecturer. After settling into his Buderim home, Jim joined U3A Sunshine Coast to meet new people and become part of the community.

Jim is passionate about the value of U3A to seniors. “U3A gave me a new interest and a chance to make new friends and study new things that I never had the time to do when I was working,” he said.

“As retirees, we need to maintain and build our social contacts, so we don’t become socially isolated. We need to keep our minds alert and our body active, and U3A programs offer opportunities to satisfy these objectives.”

Claire BLAKE
(QIMR) Berghofer Medical Research

“Where is Medical Research taking us?”

Claire Blake is a broadcast media specialist with more than 25 years’ experience in both radio and television.  As a weather presenter for Network Ten Queensland, Clare fell in love with the outback and takes every opportunity to highlight the creative brilliance of farmers under pressure. Her work as a talkback radio host on Macquarie’s Radio 4BC led Clare to an advocacy role for Outback Queensland.

Claire is also an expert in media training for medical researchers.  As a qualified teacher with a Sport Science major she currently holds accreditation with Medicines Australia from The University of Queensland. At QIMR Berghofer, Clare finds the perfect combination of science and communication.

Claire will update delegates to the conference on some amazing new clinical trials happening right now in Brisbane at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Wicking Dementia  Centre University of Tasmania

“Continuous Learning and the positive effects on the Brain”

Dr Eddy Roccati is a Research Fellow at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania.

Eddy’s work revolves around modifiable risk factors for dementia. He completed his PhD investigating the preventative potential of diet and is currently working with two long term cohort studies into the potential of later life education to improve cognition and reduce an individual’s risk of dementia.

Eddy leads two studies at the University of Tasmania, both offering subsidised/free university degrees to Tasmanians over 50 years of age. He is currently investigating the cognitive benefits of later life education, on aspects of thinking and memory (cognition) and the blood-based biomarkers that hold clues for an individual’s risk of dementia.

Eddy is also part of a long-term NHMRC-funded project into how detecting subtle changes in hand movements may signal the early stages of dementia pathology and offer protective avenues for intervention and lifestyle modification.

Dr Anthony LYNHAM
Associate Professor University of Queensland Medical School

“Our Future in Energy”

The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham is a maxillofacial surgeon with extensive experience in ministerial and policy oversight of Queensland’s major publicly owned utilities and key infrastructure projects. Dr Lynham began his surgical career in Queensland and became recognised here and internationally for his work in the surgical management and prevention of maxillofacial trauma.

In 2014, Dr Lynham was elected as the Member for the Electorate of Stafford before serving as a Senior Minister in the Queensland Government. He is well known for his tenacious work in improving working conditions and driving investment in our state’s resources industry.

Under his leadership, the most significant reforms in mining health and safety that our state has seen were introduced — protecting our workers now and into the future.Associate Professor University of Qld Medical School. Adjunct Professor Queensland University of Technology.

Dr Lynham’s appointments include:

  • Board member ATSICHS, Chair Gladstone Ports Corporation.
  • Advisory Board ARC Training Centre for Cell & Tissue Engineering Technologies (CTET).
  • Member of the People, Performance and Culture Committee
  • Member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee

Chair of U3A Australian Alliance of U3A State Networks

Glen Wall is the Chair of the U3A Australian Alliance of U3A State Networks and a member of the U3A Network Victoria committee of management with the responsible for Collaborations, Technology Partnerships and U3A Relationships with Government.
He led the development of the U3A Network Victoria’s “Building Community Engagement (BCE)” initiatives and resources, which have been, published in the Victorian Government Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Seniors Online-toolbox- “Creating Age Friendly –Places”.
Glen is also the U3A lead on an RMIT University / U3A Co-design research project ‘Shaping Connections” and been a member of a number Government Reference Groups providing input into the Older People policy making processes.
Glen has been a member of Whittlesea U3A since 2012 and has provided support to community non-for-profit associations to assist them develop an understanding of the importance of engagement of older people in lifelong learning and engagement in activities that support well-being.
He has a personal interest in assisting older people overcome barriers to the use of technology and identifying the interesting life experiences of older people and assisting then to capture the stories for sharing with the broader community.

Advocate with EveryAGE Counts

 “Age Friendly Communities”

Colin is a Volunteer and Advocate with EveryAGE Counts. The EveryAGE Counts campaign vision is ‘a society where every person is valued, connected and respected regardless of age and health’.

Colin is a past President of U3A Sunshine Coast and a past Communications Officer with U3A Network Queensland.

Colin is active in his community and wants to see the barriers to healthy and positive ageing; such as stereotyping, discrimination and the mistreatment of people because of their age, are things of the past.

Colin holds an Education degree, Teaching Diploma and completed Master of Business Administration units of study.

Co-Chair of EveryAGE Counts

 “Age Friendly Communities”

Robert Co-Chair of EveryAGE Counts. He is a former Acting Under Secretary General of the International Red Cross and former Chief Executive of Australian Red Cross.

Roberts address to the Conference will be via a video included in Colin Maddocks’ presentation.

Robert was Australia’s longest serving Federal Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. He served as a Sydney City Councillor and for a short period as Acting Lord Mayor.

Robert holds a Laws Degree, Master of Laws (Hons) and Economics Degree.

Josephine REOCH
Organ Donation Specialist Nurse

“Spare Parts for the Human Body”

My heart will go on, and on, and on… The Fourth Age.

Josephine has worked in hospitals for more than  33 years, and in the critical care field for most that time. Her passion for working with patients and their families at end-of-life led her to her most rewarding position as an organ donation specialist nurse.

Josephine’s priority is supporting the families of organ donors in honouring the final wish of their loved ones. Her role also includes education of hospital staff, creating community awareness around donation and more recently taking on a national facilitator role in training other organ donation nurses and doctors.

Ritesh CHUGH
Associate Professor CQUniversity Melbourne

 “Social Media Impacts on the Third Age”

Ritesh is an Associate Professor in Information and Communication Technologies at CQUniversity’s School of Engineering and Technology. His research as an information systems socio-technological expert focuses on the social role of emerging information systems and their influence on humans and organisations in real-world settings.

Ritesh has received several awards and commendations recognising his teaching excellence and research activities, and he recently received the Best Practice in International Education Award from the International Education Association of Australia, Australia’s peak body for international education.

As one of the most prolific contributors to mainstream media at CQUniversity, he engages in public scholarship with the broader community, both nationally and internationally, on diverse socio-technology-related issues via popular media platforms.

Ritesh has been interviewed multiple times on radio talkback shows and received media attention in many outlets such as The Age, The Australian, The Conversation, SBS, Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian for his work.

Associate Professor CQUniversity Brisbane

 “Future technologies and the Third Age”

Michael has been a leader in educational technology for more than 20 years. He was the 2020 recipient of the Universities Australia AAUT Award for Teaching Excellence (Physical Sciences), an Advance Queensland Community Digital Champion, and Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) Community Fellow.

Michael is currently an Associate Professor in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at CQUniversity Australia where he teaches in complex educational settings across six metropolitan/regional campuses He leads STEM Education research in the Centre for Research in Equity & Advancement of Teaching & Education, and through The CREATE Lab drives change around technology and education.

Tens of thousands of academics, teachers, and students have heard his mantra, ‘pedagogy before technology’, whilst learning directly and indirectly from him through his award-winning educator workshop series ‘Weaving Technology into the Fabric of the Classroom’, and his Australian government supported ‘Professor Tech’ K-12 student outreach program.

Dr Amanda REBAR
Associate Professor CQU Rockhampton

 “Can you teach an old dog new behaviors?”

Amanda is director of the Motivation of Health Behaviours Lab and Associate Professor of Psychology at Central Queensland University, Australia. Her research focuses on the psychology of behavioural change and the impact of changes in behaviour on mental health and wellbeing. Her work has particular emphasis on dual process models and non-conscious, automatic processes (e.g., habits, implicit attitudes, approach/avoidance tendencies) that influence health behaviours.

Amanda is a self-proclaimed theory and stats nerd, and she regularly works with community not-for-profit organisations and partners to provide evidence-based guidance and evaluation of physical and mental health programs.

Amanda was born in Utah (USA) and lived in America until relocating to Australia in May 2013.

Clair BECK
Client Support Manager Member Wizard

‘Software to assist U3A’s manage their Organisation’

Member Wizard has been developed as a social enterprise application to assist committees of not for Profit groups manage their organization. Amongst their current list of clients are 12 Queensland U3As with others trialling Member Wizard, and the list is growing.

It is a valuable management tool for Presidents, Treasurers, Secretaries, Membership and Class Co-ordinators and Event organisers. Members can pay their dues online, register and pay for classes and events and store secure organisational material such as agendas and meeting minutes.

Member Wizard can link directly into your existing web site or we can organize for a web site to be provided so your members can join, renew or enrol in classes, all through secured links.

Member Wizard is designed, developed and supported within Australia and is economical and affordable for all sizes of U3As. It is infinitely scalable so whether you have 50 or 50000 members Member Wizard can provide a complete membership and finance solution for your organisation.

Treasurer and IT Support U3A Gladstone

Making the most of free or inexpensive Software in managing your U3A”

Steve Felix is a recently retired member of the Gladstone U3A, which was established in 2021. He has worked in IT for over 35 years in UK, Ireland and Switzerland, and most recently for Rio Tinto and Gladstone Power Station here in Queensland.

Steve has a passion for crafting IT solutions, especially cheap or FREE ones

nbn Community Ambassador Queensland

“Becoming digitally savvy, cyber safety aware, and confident online”

As the nbn Community and Business Ambassador for Southeast Queensland Metro, I have the great pleasure of assisting many members of our community with being more digitally savvy, cyber safety aware and confident that they can embrace the ever changing landscape of digital communications. In particular, my focus has been on the least digitally-included groups: seniors, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, indigenous communities and those living with a disability.

In the past year we were very grateful to work together with U3A Network Queensland, and in conjunction with COTA QLD, to present a series of webinars about Digital Legacies. I’ve also had the chance to speak with various U3A associations face-to-face about online safety, in-home connection optimisation, even smart devices and assisted living technologies.

I look forward to seeing you all at the U3A Network Queensland State Conference 2023!