Research and Reports

The ageing population in Australia and many other countries has become the subject of interest and research in many disciplines. Successful ageing depends not only on understanding the physical effects of ageing but also the mental well being of older people.
The papers here represent a small sample of current research and reports about older people, focussing particularly on the relationship between lifelong learning, volunteering, isolation, aged care and other factors, and physical and mental health particularly amongst isolated older people.

They will be of interest not only to older people themselves but to professionals and policy advisers in the fields of gerontology, adult learning, mental health and volunteering.

The following are draft versions. Please see the relevant publications directly before quoting.

  • Successful Ageing and international approaches to later-life learning 2011

    Rick Swindell

    This is a draft version of U3A research provided by leaders of U3A-like organisations around the world in 2011. The final version of this research is published as an appendix to Chapter 4 written by Rick Swindell entitled 'Successful Ageing and international approaches to later-life learning'. The chapter and appendix appears in G.M. Boulton-Lewis and M. Tam (eds). Active Ageing, Active Learning: Issues and Challenges, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 15, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-2111-1_3, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

  • U3A in Australia and NZ: Capitalising on the cognitive resources of older volunteers

    R. Swindell, K. Vassella, L. Morgan & T. Sayer

    Abstract: Objective: To quantify and ascribe a dollar value to University of the Third Age (U3A) volunteerism in Australia and NZ. Method: Retired researchers and U3A leaders from both countries cooperated via the Internet to devise and manage a comprehensive survey of U3A activities in 2008. Results: *164 of 265 independent U3As in Australasia provided detailed counts of all activities carried out by their volunteers. *Australian U3As were supported by 871,000 volunteer hours in 2008. NZ U3As were supported by 69,000 volunteer hours in 2008. *A notional value of $20 per volunteer hour is rationalised. It values U3A volunteerism at $21 million for Australia and $1.9 million for NZ. Conclusion: Expert retirees who are engaged in meaningful voluntary activities in their U3As provide valuable in-kind contributions to the well-being of members and to the national economy.

  • Intelligent technologies for bridging the grey digital divide

    J. Soar, R. Swindell & P.Tsang

    The main focus of the book is to provide insights into current innovation, issues to be resolved and approaches for widespread adoption to enable seniors and their families to enjoy the promised benefits of technology. The book can be found on the IGI Global website and entering the book editors' names Soar, Swindell, Tsang

  • U3As in Australia and New Zealand 2008: The Successful Ageing organisations

    Windell, R., Vassella, K., Morgan,L., Sayer, T., Browne, R., Stewart, J., Waddington, J., White, B.

    The self-help University of the Third Age (U3A) is an adult education approach for older people in which all the teaching and administration is carried out by unpaid volunteers. The purpose of this study was to reveal some of the successful ageing characteristics of the 205 independent U3As in Australia and the 60 independent U3As in New Zealand (NZ). An eight member project management group comprising retired researchers and U3A leaders from both countries managed the research process. A detailed 3-part questionnaire designed to: highlight details about the activities of each U3A; quantify the nature and extent of voluntarism within U3As; and bring to light management’s vision for the future, was mailed to all U3As. Results show that the all volunteer nature of an adult education organisation run by retired experts is an effective and highly rated approach although some difficulties are emerging as U3As struggle to cope with rising rental/hiring costs. The value of U3A voluntarism in Australia is conservatively calculated to be $21 million; in NZ it is $1.9 million. Many findings in this study point to the hidden value to society of a low cost, adult education model like U3A that utilises the skills of retired experts to provide successful ageing activities for fellow retirees. However, U3A managers may need to adapt their practises to cater for the retirement needs of the new wave of baby boomers. This report contains many tables and figures that summarise the “state of play” in U3A Australasia.

  • Educational initiatives for the elderly

    Rick Swindell

    2009 paper provides current information about U3As around the world with contributions from colleagues in a number of different countries.

  • The U3A Paradigm - past, present and (possible) future

    Rick Swindell

    Paper presented at the Celebration 2007: ACT Conference Sept 13/14

  • Some adult education opportunities for seniors in Australia and NZ

    Rick Swindell

    2007 descriptive paper prepared for North American Elderhostel conference

  • New cooperative learning opportunities for older learners

    Rick Swindell

    Paper prepared for the Web4seniors 5th Learning in Later Life Conference, October 4-5, 2007, Ulm University, Germany. Paper discusses examples of constituency research in which U3A members carry out research 'with' (rather than the usual 'on') older people. The paper then discusses how the Internet has opened up new possibilities for international cooperation such as wikis and FlashMeeting.

  • A Voice Worth Listening To

    Dorothy Braxton, Rick Swindell, Elizabeth MacKinlay

    'A Voice Worth Listening To' was published in 2007. This excerpt (pp. 18-23) is one of many stories about Australians and New Zealanders aged 80 and older who continue to do remarkable things with their lives. Publisher/purchasing details are also given.

  • A world UTA in cyberspace: it's time for partnerships

    Rick Swindell

    2004: Paper presented at Oct 2004 AIUTA symposium in Shanghai. Invites U3A-type organisations to share resources for the world community of older learners.