Lessons in economic history

Anne Simmons

This year, Latrobe Valley U3A members will be able to learn about Australian economic history from a PhD graduate.

Jillian Carroll joined the organisation after selling her Melbourne home and moving back to her hometown of Heyfield last year.

After six months of retirement, she decided she needed “a bit of engagement with the world of ideas”.

The U3A in the Latrobe Valley presented itself as an appealing branch, despite the distance from home.

“The fact they have nearly 300 students was a drawcard for me,” Dr Carroll said.

“I thought, ‘that’s going to offer a whole range of different sorts of people from different backgrounds with different life experiences’.”

Dr Carroll, a self-described “analytical person”, is now a committee member at the Morwell-based branch and will run a course this year on Australian politics and economics from 1983 onwards.

It is based on her research from her PhD.

“We will be looking at the political mindset behind the big shift in the last 30 years from Gough Whitlam-type economics to Keating, Hawke, Costello and Howard-type economics which is geared towards globalisation,” she said.

Dr Carroll said, while a course on neoliberal economics might sound challenging, it would be relevant.

“Jeff Kennett deregulated the SEC and it’s had a big impact on the Latrobe Valley, so it’s meaningful,” she said.

“It’s a course that’s contemporary but draws on people’s lived experience so people will be able to contribute.

“That’s what history is all about – it’s looking at the past from a vantage point of the present so you’re reinterpreting the past all the time from new information or … new perspective.”

Having moved to Heyfield full-time after owning a holiday house there for 10 years, Dr Carroll wonders why more don’t do the same.

“Coming back after a long time away, it seems like the regions are very undervalued,” she said.

U3A promotes lifelong learning and the Morwell-based branch has 32 courses covering a range of interests.

Enrolment days will be held at Airlie Bank Homestead, 33 The Boulevard, Morwell on Thursday, February 7 and 14, 10am-2.30pm.

The annual fee is $60, which allows members to attend any class, unless the class is fully booked.

The enrolment days will provide answers to enquiries and the class schedule.

Further information can be found at lvu3a.org.au or email latrobevalleyu3a@gmail.com or phone 5191 9337.

Mirboo North and District also has a U3A branch. Visit u3amnd.org.au for more information.