Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

On Thursday 8 March our CEO Emma Bennison spoke at an International Women’s Day event hosted by Amnesty International. The theme was “Inspiring Women”, and you can read her words here.


Next Generation of Banknotes: $5 Banknote Design Reveal

Media Release
Next Generation of Banknotes: $5 Banknote Design Reveal Number 2016-09 Date 12 April 2016

The Bank has today released images of the new $5 banknote that will be issued into circulation from 1 September 2016.

The images show the basic design artwork of each side of the banknote. As previously announced, key aspects of the existing design – colour, size and people portrayed – are retained for ease of recognition and to minimise the disruption to businesses.

There is a new ‘tactile’ feature to help the vision-impaired community distinguish between different denominations of banknotes.

The Governor, Glenn Stevens, said: “Innovative new security features have been incorporated to help keep Australia’s banknotes secure from counterfeiting into the future. As can be seen in the images, these include a distinctive top-to-bottom window. Each banknote in the new series will depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird within a number of the elements. On the $5 banknote, these are the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern Spinebill.”

The designs are the culmination of a process of extensive consultation with subject-matter experts and the cash-handling industry, as well as qualitative research involving focus groups. Images of the design artwork for the new $5 banknote have been revealed today to facilitate preparations for the smooth introduction of the new banknotes.

Information on the new design and security features (which will be common to all banknotes in the new series) and how they work will be part of a public awareness campaign over coming months. The objective of this campaign will be to ensure that members of the public are able to identify and use the range of new security features on the new $5 banknotes when they start to receive them.

Issuance of the new $5 banknote will commence on 1 September, although it will take some time for the new banknotes to be widely circulated. The current series of banknotes can continue to be used even after the new banknotes are issued.

Media and Communications
Information Department
Reserve Bank of Australia
Phone: +61 2 9551 9720
Fax: +61 2 9551 8033
E-mail: rbainfo@rba.gov.au

Blind and Vision-impaired Australians over 65 Need a Fair Go Too!

Press Release:

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is urging Senators to use this week’s senate estimates to call for a fair go for people who are blind or vision impaired no matter whether they access the ageing or disability support systems for their blindness related needs.

BCA implores the Government to look closely at the unintentional, but real anxiety these inequities are causing people who are blind or vision-impaired seeking to lead full and independent lives as they age.

“Although there are many things that remain unclear while the NDIS and My Aged Care are in a state of transition, there is no doubt that the NDIS has been designed to meet the specific needs of people with disability. On the other hand, people who are blind or vision-impaired (particularly those who lose their vision later in life) are at a great disadvantage if they are trying to get disability related supports through the aged care system, the only option for those seeking access to services when they are over the age of 65” said BCA President Emma Bennison. “There are caps on packages in the aged care system, and there is an entrenched history of co-payments. Neither of these impediments exist in the NDIS”.

Statistics show that the vast majority of people who lose their vision are over the age of 65, making them ineligible for the NDIS.

“We know that the government is committed to rolling out the NDIS in full and making it the best it can be”, said BCA CEO, Leah van Poppel. “Now we are calling on politicians to make sure that people who are blind or vision impaired can get the supports they need no matter what their age is. We would hate to see people missing out on learning to get around independently, or using technology to read, just because of their age. We’re keen to work with government and service providers to make sure this happens”.

Senate Estimates will take place in Federal Parliament this week. They will focus on aging and health issues. BCA looks forward to working with Government to ensure equity of service for some of its most vulnerable members.

Blind Citizens Australia Announces New Horizons Song Competition Winner!

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA), the national peak body for people who are blind or vision impaired, is pleased to announce the winner of a competition to create a new theme song for the organisation’s national radio program, New Horizons.

Steve Richardson, from Underwood QLD, has written the winning song entitled “Who We Want To Be”.

“We wanted to create a song which was written, recorded and produced entirely by people who are blind or vision impaired so that we could foster a sense of empowerment among our members,” BCA president Emma Bennison said. “The new song sums up the importance of BCA to people who are blind or vision impaired and who face daily challenges in order to fulfil their dreams, goals and aspirations.”

“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm demonstrated by people who are blind or vision impaired in embracing this idea,” said BCA CEO Leah van Poppel. “Projects like this bring our community together to demonstrate their talents to each other and our broader society.”

The song will be recorded and produced at Sparrowsound Studios, a facility owned and operated by Steve Sparrow, who is blind and who is an acclaimed singer and songwriter in his own right.

BCA aims to have the song featured as the new theme for its national weekly radio program, “New Horizons”, by March 2016. “New Horizons” can be heard through the RPH radio network and on selected community radio stations throughout Australia. It is also available on Blind Citizens Australia’s website at www.bca.org.au, and can be downloaded via podcast feed.

Media contact:
Leah van Poppel, Blind Citizens Australia CEO
Mobile: 0430 210 980
Email: leah.van.poppel@bca.org.au

Aussie Success in Onkyo Braille Competition: Deafblind adventures and Braille Facebook for teens

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA), the national peak body for people who are blind or vision impaired, today announced that there were two Australian winners in the Onkyo Braille Competition, an international essay contest for Braille users across the Asia Pacific region.

David Kovacic, 55, of Ocean Grove in Victoria, won the Otsuki Prize for the overall competition winner, with a score of 76.5% for his essay about the many adventures he’s had since losing his vision and hearing. David writes about “reclaiming his life” by taking up surfing, metal detecting, kayaking and driving a racing car.

Vanessa Vlajkovic, an 18 year old student from Dianella in Western Australia, wrote about whether Braille is still relevant in our age of technology, taking out the Excellence Prize for Category A (14 – 25 year olds) with a score of 73.6%. Vanessa argued that, as a young person with sight and hearing loss, she needs Braille to be able to use technology such as Facebook. With a Braille display attached to her computer, she is able to keep in touch with friends in the same way as any other teenager.

“We’re delighted to see Braille literacy thriving through the Onkyo Competition, and thrilled to have two Australian winners in the year in which BCA is hosting the competition,” said Emma Bennison, BCA President.

“It’s critical to have positive role models for Braille literacy like David and Vanessa in the Australian blindness community at a time when educators and the broader community can struggle to understand that there’s no substitute for knowing how you spell a word or how you punctuate a sentence. Computer software that reads out text just can’t give you the same completeness of information that Braille offers.”

Media contact: Leah van Poppel, Blind Citizens Australia CEO

Mobile: 0430 210 980 Email: leah.van.poppel@bca.org.au