Sunday, 15 October 2023
The Workers' Educational Association of South Australia (WEA) Open Day
Rod and I are very pleased to be here today as joint patrons of the (Workers' Educational Association of South Australia) WEA, to celebrate your 110th anniversary Open Day.
The WEA is a South Australian institution.
Tens of thousands of South Australians, myself among them, have done at least one course with the WEA, and many more know of its existence.
I learned to type here and how to look after my car.
As a young graduate working in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra, knowing how to check the oil, radiator and change a flat were useful skills during my car trips to Adelaide. The nail care course came in handy from time to time too.
South Australia is known as a leader in social innovation, and the WEA is a proud contributor to this tradition.
Founded in 1913, the WEA is one of Adelaide’s earliest examples of a social enterprise.
From running your first subjects in the fields of politics and social studies, aimed at working men with no access to university, you are now Australia’s largest non-government, not-for-profit adult community education organisation – a considerable achievement.
During its history the WEA has overcome a number of challenges to its livelihood, including the Second World War and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rod and I are pleased to see that enrolments in WEA courses are returning to pre COVID levels, and we wish you well as you continue to recover from this difficult period.
The WEA was founded on a belief that learning for learning’s sake enables self-development which leads to active citizenship, and the improved health and wellbeing of individuals.
We thank the WEA for its commitment to equity and social justice, providing opportunities and pathways for all South Australian adults to improve and enrich their lives through lifelong learning.
By stimulating people’s minds and offering them a community of learners, you are also helping to keep South Australians mentally and emotionally healthy.
We thank the WEA for providing employment for a large number of tutors, and giving them the opportunity to share their skills and expertise.
We thank the Board and staff, past and present, for their vision and dedication to the organisation, as well as the volunteers who donate their time and energy to enabling the WEA to reach its goals.
We also thank the thousands of South Australians who undertake a WEA course each year, enriching their own lives and supporting this long-serving organisation.
We encourage you all to make the most of Open Day, attending the free workshops, the Market Hall in the basement, and inspecting the findings of the WEA Volunteer History Project.
A very happy birthday to the WEA.
Rod and I look forward to watching the organisation go from strength to strength into the future and perhaps enrolling in a few more courses ourselves.