By Joana d’Orey Novo

Listen to the audio

For those who don’t know me yet, I am the Chair of BCA’s NSW/ACT State Division. You may recall that the Division was formed when Blind Citizens NSW and BCA consolidated in late 2017. So what has the Division been up to?

In February, members of the Division committee, NSW and ACT Board members and BCA staff met for a Division planning day. It was a really exciting day, as we explored the Division’s potential and what we thought was important for the Division to do. Community and belonging were two very strong threads throughout the day. Times are changing and we are progressively losing the physical spaces that gave many of us a sense of belonging, history and community.

Technology seems to offer us exciting new ways of reaching out to each other through social media, online meetings and streaming of events. However, not everyone finds community and belonging online.

A couple of projects sprung out of these early reflections; the Legacy Project and Spring into Action. History is an important part of belonging. The Legacy Project will result in a podcast series recording the history of blindness advocacy in NSW and the ACT. After all, between BCA and Blind Citizens NSW, there are 150 years of advocacy, representation and community!

On the 14th of July, BCA officially launched the NSW/ACT Division in Newcastle. Approximately 40 members, blindness agency representatives and guests attended the launch in person, and another 25 or so joined us online. Michael Simpson, former BCA President and Vision Australia’s General Manager, NSW and ACT, launched the Division and reflected on the long and proud histories of BCA and Blind Citizens NSW. You can listen to his speech on episode 563 of BCA’s weekly radio program and podcast, New Horizons, available for download from BCA’s website.

We also celebrated our new partnership with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, and noted that we now have formal partnerships in place with three of Australia’s major blindness agencies: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Guide Dogs Victoria and Vision Australia.

So what is Spring into Action, you ask? Well, the plan is to have a few weeks in Spring when Division members and branches get together to celebrate our wonderful community. On the 27th and 28th of October 2018, we will hold our first convention as a Division in Newcastle. The theme for Convention is “Enjoying Our State: Living the good life in NSW and the ACT”.

Sessions will cover a range of topics, such as hacks that make our lives a bit easier, new technology, experiences of attending camp, developments in banking and the relationship between technology and human rights.

As always, there will be an opportunity to check out the latest tech in our tech expo and for those feeling particularly tribal, we will be having a drumming circle. To find out more about the program and register to attend, click HERE, or call BCA on 1800 033 660.

A number of events are taking place across NSW and the ACT as part of Spring into Action, including:

  • On 18th September 2018, the Tweed Valley Branch organised an audio-described tour of the Regional Art Gallery.
  • On 10th October 2018, the ACT Branch is hosting a Taxi Transport Forum, where participants will have an opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, the regulator.
  • On the 27th and 28th October 2018, members of the Newcastle and Hunter Branch not attending convention, will meet at a local venue to listen to the live stream.

If you want to find out more about these events, or would like to host or organise an event, you can contact your branch or BCA on 1800 033 660.

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