Welcome To Blind Citizens Australia

 

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

Our mission is to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs.

Whether you are blind, have a vision impairment , a family member or friend of a person who is blind or vision impaired, BCA is here to assist you.

We provide information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services. Our Branches act as local lobby groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members.

Explore our site. Learn about us. Listen to SoundAbout for profiles of people who are blind or vision impaired and those working with our community. If you are interested in audio-described TV, cinema and DVD content check out It’s Our Turn. Set your dial and tune in to our weekly radio program New Horizons. For the issues and policies that affect you, plus useful information and tips, turn to the pages of BC News or Parent News.

Contact BCA:

Toll Free:
1800 033 660

Phone:
03 9654 1400

Text:
0488 824 623

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

Donate to Blind Citizens Australia by using the PayPal “Donate” button below (you can donate via PayPal without setting up a PayPal account).




New Horizons Podcast

New Horizons is Blind Citizens Australia’s weekly radio show. It is an interview style, with topics relevant to people who are blind or vision impaired. It runs for about 15 minutes, in MP3 format. To listen, you can use the audio player below.

From January 2018, New Horizons and other BCA audio files are available from a new podcast feed ! You can subscribe to the Blind Citizens Australia podcast feed by pointing your Pod-Catcher to: http://blindcitizens.podbean.com/feed

To visit the Blind Citizens Australia podbean page, go to: http://blindcitizens.podbean.com

Ulaanbaatar Statement

 

Participants at the recent World Blind Union – Asia Pacific (WBUAP) Mid-Term General Assembly in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) adopted the following statement:

Posted 14/09/2018 on the WBUAP webpage

“We, the participants at the World Blind Union – Asia Pacific (WBUAP) Mid-Term Regional General Assembly in UlaanBaatar, 12 September, 2018 adopt the following statement and refer it to relevant stakeholders for their consideration and action where appropriate:

1. We request governments to review or enact legislation which ensures that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities constitutes an effective tool for change in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted; and we urge all WBUAP members to engage with monitoring and implementation processes to the maximum extent possible.

2. We call upon all governments throughout the WBU Asia Pacific region (Region) to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty as soon as practicable, so that persons who are blind or partially sighted or who have other print disabilities, have the fullest possible access to works of literature and to educational materials. We congratulate the five countries in the Region that have already ratified the Treaty.

3. We encourage national and international development organisations to work with governments to develop disability-inclusive policies and to implement programs to progress the action plans for the Sustainable Development Goals, the Incheon Strategy and the Beijing Declaration.

4. We encourage WBUAP members to co-operate with the United Nations Development Program to build capacity across the region so that persons who are blind or partially sighted are able to advocate for greater access to information.

5. We request all WBUAP members to give priority to policies that promote the empowerment of blind and partially sighted women by striving for their equality, safety and economic independence. In particular, members should focus on the themes identified by the 2018 WBU Asia Pacific Women’s Forum: education, employment, leadership opportunities, social participation, technology and the prevention of abuse and exploitation of women.

6. In acknowledging the very successful leadership training course held in December 2017 in Bangkok, under the generous sponsorship of the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), we encourage WBUAP members to actively provide leadership training and mentoring opportunities to facilitate the active participation of young people at the national and regional level. Furthermore, we request all members to pay attention to the needs, opinions and aspirations of young people, as well as nurture their leadership potential.

7. Noting that not all countries in the WBU Asia Pacific region were able to fully participate in this regional assembly, largely due to a lack of resources and/or infrastructure, we encourage WBUAP members to reach out to neighbouring countries to help them build their capacity to ensure improved services and peer support for their blind and partially sighted citizens. In this regard we express our appreciation to those organisations which have sponsored participants at this Assembly.

8. We call upon all governments, corporations and other global partners to take their share of responsibility and consult effectively to ensure that information and communications technologies are available, accessible and affordable to, and useable by, persons who are blind or partially sighted—as it is through such technology that real inclusion can be advanced and social isolation eliminated.

9. We endorse the generous offer of Hong Kong Blind Union to initiate and lead the implementation of a web accessibility campaign at the regional level, with active support from WBUAP members, to promote the adoption of internationally recognised accessibility standards in web design, apps, e-learning and other ICT products and services.

10. Noting the unacceptably high levels of unemployment and under-employment of persons who are blind or partially sighted in many countries, we call on all governments to implement or out-source programs that enable economic empowerment through the full participation in employment including: the promotion and resourcing of occupation-specific programs which promote the economic independence of blind and partially sighted people; awareness-raising programs for public and private employers and the community; transition to employment programs for school-leavers and newly-blinded persons; and the operation of specialist equipment and assistive technology schemes.

11. We support the proposal of the WBU Global Employment committee to request the WBU Officers to give much higher priority to employment issues including a major focus at the 2020 WBU General Assembly in Spain. In addition, noting the success of project Aspiro, we request WBUAP members to find ways to support Project Aspiro such as by providing employment-related information and case studies in their major languages for inclusion on the Project Aspiro website.

12. We call on the WBUAP members to share actively best practice initiatives and programs in areas including employment promotion and entrepreneurship, fundraising and capacity building.

13. We urge WBUAP members and networks to maintain strong communication with each other, using the WBUAP web site, The East Wind newsletter and other communication tools – ensuring that where practicable no person is left behind.

14. We congratulate the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB) on the hosting of a very successful regional assembly; and we express our appreciation to the Mongolian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and to the members, staff and volunteers from MNFB whose collective efforts have made our stay in UlaanBaatar so productive and enjoyable.

2018 Annual General Meeting

Blind Citizens Australia will hold its 43rd Annual General Meeting in Melbourne, at the John Pierce Centre, 25-35 High Street, Prahran, on Saturday, 1 December 2018 at 11:00am. Those members unable to attend in person will be able to listen in to the proceedings via a live stream. The AGM will be followed by lunch and a discussion forum in the afternoon for those who can attend in person.

More details…

NSW / ACT 2018 Convention – Register Now!

 

The NSW/ACT State Division of BCA invites you to attend it’s first convention as a newly formed state division. We take time to look at the things that help us live a good life in NSW and the ACT, from tips for everyday living to gadgets and technology that make our lives easier. You will get a chance to share ‘diverse experiences of parenting’ and hear and reminisce about attending camp. You can network during Friday night welcome drinks and Convention dinner. And, if you want to tap into your primal self, come join us in a drumming circle!

Friday 26th – Sunday 28th October 2018

Travelodge Hotel, Newcastle, West NSW

More details…

 

Launch of the BCA NSW/ACT State Division to be audio streamed!

 

The BCA Board and NSW/ACT State Division Committee invite you to join us to celebrate the launch of our first state division. The launch will be held on Saturday July 14th at the Newcastle Travelodge.

The event will be streamed via the links below.

The NSW/ACT State Division was formed when, in late  2017, the decision was made to consolidate Blind Citizens New South Wales into Blind Citizens Australia. Since then, the State Division Committee has developed its first annual plan, which sets out an ambitious but sustainable road map for the new state division in its first eighteen months.

The Internet broadcast will commence at 10:20AM (AEST) on Saturday July 14th and the program will include:

  • A welcome to Newcastle from Stephen Belbin, President Newcastle Hunter Valley Branch
  • Introductory Comments by John Simpson, BCA President
  • Launch of BCA NSW/ACT State Division by Michael Simpson General Manager NSW/ACT Vision Australia
  • A national update from Emma Bennison, BCA CEO
  • Information about the forthcoming BCA NSW/ACT State Convention and “Spring into Action Month” from Joana d’Orey Novo, Chair BCA NSW/ACT State Division
  • An Introduction to the NSW/ACT State Division Plan by Krystel Malcolm and Sally Aurisch – NSW/ACT Co-Ordinators
  • Announcement of a new partnership between BCA and the Guide Dogs Association of NSW/ACT from John Simpson and James Bennett, Director, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

The event will conclude with an open Question and Answer session. You can submit your questions and comments by text message to 0488 824 623.

To join the program, follow these links:

 

Media Release: Four Lucky Aussie Teens to Experience Summer Camp in the States

 

Download Word version

Blind Citizens Australia, as part of their commitment to providing opportunities for young people who are blind or vision impaired, has selected four teenagers this July to attend Enchanted Hills Summer Camp in California, USA.

Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat (EHC) provides programs for blind children, teens, adults, deaf-blind, seniors, as well as families of the blind. Since 1950, Enchanted Hills has delivered valuable opportunities for recreation in a fun, challenging and accessible way. Located on 311 acres on scenic Mt. Veeder, Enchanted Hills is just 10 miles west of Napa, California.

This year’s Teen Session runs from 19 – 27 July and is attended by 60 campers aged between 15 – 20 who are all blind or vision impaired. Campers participate in outdoor recreational activities, art and craft, music and drama, swimming, horse riding, cooking, hiking and a variety of other activities.

Many of the staff are blind and vision impaired and work closely with the campers to facilitate their time there as well as acting as role models.

Tyan Taylor, 28 from Berowra and Tess Whelan, 21 from Melbourne will be mentoring the teens during their trip to the States and will also work as the Recreation Area Leader and Dinner Cook respectively.

Tyan believes it is important for teenagers to experience something like the Enchanted Hills Camp and is returning this year to not only work in the camp but also support the young Australian’s attending for the first time.

“With such a strong mentoring staff at EHC it allows campers to not only build on existing skills but challenges campers to help encourage the development of problem solving skills and team work through a range of different activities and experiences all within a nurturing environment,” said Ms Taylor.

“EHC offers a chance to share experiences and skills with others in a fun and relaxed environment. This allows campers to gain better insight into not seeing their impairment or disability as a negative but to see the potential and to chase their dreams.”

Anthony Fletcher, Director of Enchanted Hills Camp also believes that meeting other mentors who are blind or vision impaired from different backgrounds can empower ideas about blindness, develop confidence and a positive philosophy.

“One of the best features of a cultural exchange program is the chance to make new friends for a lifetime, both inside and outside the camp environment,” said Mr Fletcher.

“Whether you are sharing a cabin or participating in the same activities, these programs allow campers to make friendships that could last a lifetime.”

Blind Citizens Australia CEO, Emma Bennison, is thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to the four young people chosen to attend EHC.

“Part of our strategic plan moving forward is to continue to look for ways to develop future young leaders from within the blind and vision impaired community,” she said.

“I am sure these four teenagers will have a life changing experience and BCA is excited to be able to facilitate this. It is our hope that in the future we can deliver a similar camp experience here in Australia and allow more young Australians who are blind or vision impaired these opportunities to interact with each other and build on their leadership and life skills.”

The four Australians who will be attending EHC are Zaheera Casoojee,18 from Springwood, Queensland, Griffith D’Souze, 18 from Rooty Hill, New South Wales, Jess Clark 19 from Sydney, New South Wales and Alayna Campbell 20 from Bendigo, Victoria.

For more information please contact:

Kathie Kelly
Fundraising and Social Media Consultant
Blind Citizens Australia
Phone: 0439 724304
Email: kathie.kelly@bca.org.au

 

Background Info

Who is Blind Citizens Australia?

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the national organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired and is recognised as the major peak representative body for this constituency. Since 1975, BCA has provided information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services to its members and the wider community.

BCA Branches act as local representative groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members. It has grown to an organisation of 3000 individual members and seven affiliated organisations.

Our mission is “to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs”.

With over forty years of history, BCA has worked tirelessly “To Change What it Means to be Blind” both for Australians who experience vision loss and for blind and vision impaired people throughout the world.

Specifically this has included:

  • providing peer support
  • providing individual and systemic advocacy
  • facilitating information exchange
  • empowering its members
  • promoting positive community attitudes
  • striving for high quality and accessible services which meet individual needs
  • promoting research into the causes and amelioration of the impact of blindness and vision impairment

As the national voice of people who are blind or vision impaired BCA has a seat on many Government, commercial and community sector advisory bodies. BCA’s individual advocacy service is available to all Australians who experience vision loss. With a focus on issues that impact on the individual because of their blindness/vision impairment, BCA works both directly and through specialist community advocates, to resolve issues in a constructive and educative manner and draws on more formal processes where a mutually agreeable solution cannot be found.

BCA has been an active member of the World Blind Union at both the World and Regional levels since its creation in 1984. Over that period two of the senior members have held office as World President and several more have served on the World and Regional Executives and various standing committees. In November 2000 BCA was the lead organisation for the hosting in Melbourne of the WBU 5th General Assembly. BCA has also lead capacity building projects in Fiji and Vietnam and has participated in many international conferences and forums.

In association with its policy development and advocacy work, BCA has undertaken a range of blindness related research projects. Several of these resulted in published papers.

For further information about Enchanted Hills Camp visit: http://lighthouse-sf.org/enchanted-hills/about-enchanted-hills/

Please let us know if you’d like this information in another format for accessibility.