Fiona Woods

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I took over from Lynne Davis as chair of the National Policy Council (NPC) late last year. Our major project since that time has been developing a policy on the expectations we have of the agencies which provide blindness specific services. In short, we are defining BCA’s mission statement, which calls for “high quality and accessible services which meet our needs”.

We know that nowadays, many of us receive services from generic providers, but in areas such as orientation and mobility, adaptive technology and occupational therapy, most of us still rely on services designed with the needs of blind people in mind.

This policy will enshrine the dignity and individuality of each blind person. We will be working with blindness agencies to ensure that the policy is meaningful and can be implemented. It will include areas such as governance, client representation, service delivery and communications.

It will also address a recommendation adopted at last year’s Convention, relating to the positive portrayal of blind people in fundraising and other publicity materials produced by blindness agencies. We will be consulting BCA members extensively about this policy, and I encourage you all to have your say in what you expect from your blindness service agency. If you have any issues you want included, please contact me or your state or territory NPC representative.

Developing effective policies that can eventually be implemented can be a slow process, and I know we are all hoping to have some results to show in the near future.

Later in the year, we will turn our minds to a policy on dog guides, and re-open the area of pedestrian safety with a review of BCA’s position on mobility parking permits.

If you have any questions or comments or would like to discuss our work, members of the NPC are:

  • Fiona Woods, Lynne Davis and Helen Freris, board members
  • Steve Richardson, Queensland
  • Jennifer Parry, New South Wales
  • Martin Stewart, Victoria
  • David Squirrel, South Australia
  • Greg Madson, Western Australia
  • Doug McGinn, Tasmania
  • Julie Sutherland, representing the National Women’s Branch.

We will hopefully soon appoint an ACT representative to take over from Justin Simpson. We are a big committee to meet by phone, but one of the benefits has been the opportunity to discuss policy issues in our respective states. Elections and transport are never off our agenda, which promises to be full for many meetings to come.

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