By John Simpson

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It has been an exciting and productive time for BCA recently. On Saturday, 1 December, we held our 43rd Annual General Meeting in Melbourne. We were delighted to have over 50 members attend and participate in Melbourne and Sydney, and that more than 20 people joined us via the live stream as observers.

Our CEO, Emma Bennison, and I reported on a very successful year for BCA, and Treasurer Dan Stubbs reported on BCA’s financial position. Both reports can be found on the publications page on our website, and are available in a range of formats upon request.

The results of elections for the President, Directors, and National Policy Council representatives, notified to members previously, were formally announced, and Bill Jolley, Chair of the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation, provided a comprehensive report. Sincere thanks to members for their participation in our AGM, whether in Melbourne, in Sydney or via the stream.

The Board also met face-to-face in Melbourne, on Sunday 2 and Monday 3 December. The first order of business was to fill the casual vacancy for a Director, following the election process. I am delighted to advise that Rocco Cutri, from Sydney, accepted the Board’s invitation to fill this position.

Office holders for the coming year were also elected, so the current BCA Directors are:

  • John Simpson, President
  • Helen Freris, Vice-President
  • Dan Stubbs, Treasurer and Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Fiona Woods, Chair, National Policy Council
  • Mick Baker, Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Stephen Belbin, Branch Liaison, Chair, NSW/ACT Coordinating Committee and Diversity Committee
  • Joanne Chua: National Policy Council, Communications Committee and Diversity Committee
  • Rocco Cutri, Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Prue Watt, Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee and Communications Committee.

The meeting also included board induction; ratification of a number of operational policies; discussion of how the board can better contribute to BCA’s communications mechanisms; and strategic planning, with a particular focus on broadening our reach and membership. If you’d like to know more about the board’s deliberations, you can listen to New Horizons, Episode 583, which is available via our website, as a podcast or through the Vision Australia library.

I have been honoured to serve as your President for the last two years, and I am delighted to now have your support to continue to serve members and people who are blind or vision impaired more generally. Thanks to the commitment of members, board and staff, BCA has made significant progress towards rebuilding its reputation as the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired, but there’s much still to do.

At the AGM, I indicated that my focus over the next three years would be on continuing to ensure BCA delivers on its mission, particularly in five areas:

  • Building on the success of BCA’s work in relation to leadership development, to ensure that at all levels of the organisation, we support and nurture current and aspiring leaders.
  • Ensuring we engage more effectively with diverse communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, young people, women and people living in regional and remote Australia.
  • Maintaining and increasing communication and consultation with members and stakeholders to ensure BCA represents the interests of all Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
  • Ensuring BCA remains sustainable and growing into the future.
  • And above all, doing all I can to ensure that one or more of our aspiring leaders is fully prepared to take over in this role when my term ends in three years’ time.

As always, I welcome the opportunity to talk with members about the work of our organisation, and their aspirations and concerns for our future.

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