By Joana d’Orey Novo

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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. The task of winding up Blind Citizens NSW is almost complete. My colleagues on the Division Committee are:

  • Bill McKennariey
  • Graeme Innes
  • Justin Simpson
  • Marie Shang
  • Stephen Belbin
  • Susan Thompson.

Later this year, NSW and ACT BCA members will be able to nominate and vote for membership of this Committee. Information about nomination and election will be provided closer to the time.

It seems like only yesterday that we gathered to launch our Division and Division Plan, in Newcastle on 14 July 2018. We are once more about to turn our minds to planning for the 2019-2020 financial year. As I discussed in previous updates, the main focus of the State Division Plan was to foster and develop our sense of belonging and community. This theme has come through very strongly in the Division’s activities to date, and will continue to inform and influence future initiatives.

History and our part in it is a crucial aspect of belonging. It reminds us of what has gone before us, and that we are part of something bigger. The Legacy Project, led by Graeme Innes, is producing a five podcast series documenting the oral history of blindness advocacy in NSW and the ACT. This podcast is in its final editing stage, and we are hoping to launch it at this year’s National Convention.

One of our main initiatives in 2018 was Spring into Action Month, a series of events across NSW and the ACT culminating in our first NSW/ACT Division Convention in Newcastle on 27 and 28 October 2018. Events held during Spring into Action Month included a taxi forum in Canberra, an audio described tour of an art gallery in the Tweed Valley region, and a lunch with a visiting Taiwanese choir in Sydney.

The Convention was a great success, with the most well received sessions covering a range of topics from AIRA and other technology to diverse parenting experiences. The drumming circle was also a favourite. Interestingly, over 50 people listened to a range of sessions through our live stream. It is encouraging to know that Convention is still accessible to those not able to be there in person.

In exciting news, the Sydney Branch has been reactivated under the coordinator model, with Sondra Wibberley as Branch Coordinator and Barry Chapman as Deputy Coordinator. In an example of how technology can help bring our community together. Members gathered in Sydney to join the AGM, which was held in Melbourne. Those at the Sydney site were able to contribute and vote at the meeting. Members then held a Christmas lunch, followed by trivia hosted by Barry Chapman.

You may not be aware that when Blind Citizens NSW and BCA consolidated, Blind Citizens NSW’ funds were donated to the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation to establish a sub-fund, named the Shirley Fund after Shirley House, a property once owned by BCNSW. The Shirley Fund is building satisfactorily. Quarterly reports on this fund, and grants from it, may be found on the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation page.

We will keep you posted on upcoming Division activities. If you have any questions about the Division’s work, please feel free to send me an email at

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