By Emma Bennison

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I returned from six weeks leave on 5 August refreshed and excited by how much was achieved in my absence. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rikki Chaplin for acting in the CEO role while I was enjoying plenty of relaxation. Since returning, I have made some changes to the structure of the team to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to enable us to take advantage of new opportunities, such as an ILC grant we recently received to enable us to undertake an employment project. More to follow on that in future updates.

Rikki has worked tirelessly as our National Advocacy Officer for five years now and is ready for a change. So he will take up the role of National Advocacy Projects Officer and will undertake a range of work, including more complex cases, assisting individuals to make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission, undertaking systemic advocacy work in NSW and more. As a result of Rikki’s change of position, Martin Stewart, who acted as National Advocacy Officer while Rikki was acting CEO, will continue in that role. I would like to take this opportunity to formally welcome Martin and thank him for his already significant contribution to our advocacy work.

Anna Briggs, who was previously my Executive Assistant, has now moved into a more part-time role as Communications Assistant so she can focus on her family business. Anna is playing a pivotal role in the design and development of our new website which will be launched by early next year.

Since then, Naomi Barber, who many of you will have met through our leadership and mentoring programs and at recent conventions has been doing an excellent job as Anna’s replacement.

Given Naomi has a background working in the employment sector however, I will reluctantly lose her to our new employment project which she will work on full-time from late September.

Applications recently closed for our new Executive Assistant position.  I am excited to announce the results of the EA recruitment process. We received 134 applications and short-listed eight candidates. We short-listed on the basis of executive management experience and remote working experience.  I’m excited to announce that Emma Barrance is the successful applicant. Emma lives in Ballarat and is an experienced program manager and administrator. Emma commenced on 7 October.

While I was on leave, Jane Britt also joined our team as BCA’s new National Policy Officer. Jane has held various roles in the disability sector, most recently finishing in Vision Australia’s Graduate program working in Service Innovation and Design in work relating to the NDIS and Stakeholder Engagement for the Disability Leadership Institute.

Jane is also currently a writer for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and works ad hoc in freelance journalism for other news outlets. Jane holds undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in psychology from the Australian National University.

In her spare time, Jane loves the performing arts, especially classical and jazz performances and ballets. She has a love or rather an obsession for dogs and will always be happy to have a chinwag about your beloved furry member of your family. She’s very excited to be joining the BCA team and looks forward to the new challenges ahead for her role. To hear her voice, and find out what she’s been working on recently, check out her interview in Episode 621 of New Horizons.

I would like to publicly welcome Jane to the team and to thank her for her already substantial contribution to supporting the National Policy Council and preparing submissions.

As you can see, a lot has been happening, and I’m confident we are well placed to take advantage of future opportunities for our organization and most importantly, continue to meet the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired. As always, we welcome your feedback at any time, and look forward to continuing to work with you.

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