Third Age Learning In Regional Australia
This paper explores the diversity of third age learning in regional and rural communities when people open themselves to new experiences and challenges in everyday life in two very different parts of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. One is Whyalla, an industrial city with a small university campus, and the other, largely rural Lower Eyre Peninsula focused on agriculture, fishing and aquaculture. Both communities have ageing populations above the state average. The paper is a synthesis of a number of research studies, conducted between 2000 and 2015, and has relevance for all concerned with the importance of learning throughout life, including educators, community organisations and service providers. While rural and regional communities may appear to have limited opportunities for formal education compared to large centres, community activities provide numerous, perhaps unique, learning venues and occasions for informal and non-formal learning, especially for older residents. Smaller, less diverse populations result in usually higher volunteering levels in social, economic and service organisations that provide many of the basic, essential and emergency services. Some organisations support the interests and needs of older residents, with various special interest groups providing opportunities for socialising and new learning opportunities that have individual and community benefits, fulfilling the aspirations of both. Supplementing these modes of learning are technologies enabling regional, rural and remote people to access formal education and training offered by open access colleges and universities.
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