John Simpson

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First, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Jonathan Craig as Editor of Blind Citizens News. After an extended conversation with Jonathan about his plans for this publication, I look forward to some stimulating reading in this and future editions.

Those of you who have kept in touch with BCA’s work in recent times will be aware that our strategic priorities centre on building a sustainable organisation equipped to deal with future challenges, ensuring we have credibility with our members and stakeholders, building strong partnerships whilst maintaining our independence and developing the capacity of our current and future leaders.

The board and staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure we make progress on all four of these priorities. I want to touch particularly on our sustainability in this update, since this has been a particular focus for the board in recent months.

You need only look back to the recommendations from the 2015 BCA Leaders’ Summit to be reminded of how far the organisation has come in the past year. Many of those recommendations have been achieved, and others are in the pipeline. The board recognises and celebrates these achievements, and acknowledges the consistent hard work of members and staff as being instrumental to our success.

Having said that, the board is also acutely conscious that if the organisation is to continue to thrive, we need a period of consolidation over the next 12 months in order to capitalise on the extraordinary growth and development of the past year.

To this end, we will spend the next 12 months building on our success and strengthening our existing systems and processes to ensure they can keep pace with our rapid expansion. While this does not mean we will grind to a halt, it does mean we must make strategic decisions about what the organisation prioritises at this time, and what needs to take a back seat.

Through our National Convention last year, you provided the board with a number of recommendations to consider. While it would take an entire issue of BC News to provide updates on each recommendation, I want to give you a general sense of our progress.

The National Policy Council has taken up recommendations regarding the representation of people who are blind or vision-impaired in fundraising campaigns, as part of a broader piece of work around the development of guidelines in relation to service provider expectations. The NPC will also further the recommendations in relation to dog guides as time and capacity allow.

The board has been considering the recommendation relating to the reinstatement of the BCA Identity Card. While the board has determined that this is unsustainable, we have been working to develop a list of acceptable forms of ID in each state.

The final recommendation I want to discuss in detail relates to the timing and length of our National Convention. The board has determined that this will be held in March 2019 in Hobart. The length of the Convention will be a matter for further discussion as the program is considered, however the board recognises the cost involved in getting to Convention and appreciates the importance of maximising the opportunity, whether through formal programs or additional social activities.

Other recommendations continue to be actioned through our National Women’s Branch, and through our recently established Cultural Diversity Advisory Committee. While there is much more to be done, I hope this update provides you with a sense of how much we have already achieved. We will continue to update you, and encourage you to begin considering what recommendations you might put to our next National Convention.

As you will read in Emma’s article, communications remain an important priority. Successful communication is, of course, a two-way street. I encourage all readers to make full use of our newly installed telephone system and our recently introduced text messaging service, as well as our E-mail, Facebook and Twitter, to provide us with your suggestions and perspectives.

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