By Helen Freris

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As we slide in to 2021, I thought it might be a good time to share news of what the National Policy Council of BCA has been up to, and what our plans are for the coming year.

Firstly, some thank yous, farewells and introductions… We have some changes to NPC membership since our AGM and Board meeting last year.  After several years of service to the NPC, Fiona Woods’ term as Chair of the NPC has come to an end.  Huge thanks are due to Fiona, whose insightful and wise leadership has resulted in some very effective policy development.  We also sincerely thank and farewell David Morrell (Tasmania), Andrew Webster (ACT) and Joanne Chua (South Australia).

Joining us on the NPC in 2021 as the BCA board representatives are Lauren Henley and Prue Watt, and John Danesh Krishnan as our representative from Tasmania.

So the members of the NPC for 2021 are:

  • Helen Freris – NPC Chair
  • Lauren Henley – Deputy Chair
  • Prue Watt – Board Rep
  • ACT – Vacant
  • NSW – Lynne Davis
  • Queensland – Paul Price
  • South Australia – David Squirrell
  • Tasmania – John Danesh Krishnan
  • Victoria – Sean Tyrell
  • Western Australia – Sean McLaughlin

You may recall that last year, the NPC launched BCA’s health policy statement at BCA Connect. The policy is on BCA’s website, and we hope members will find it useful when accessing health services.  This year, we plan to produce a checklist for accessing GP services, based on the policy.  This will assist us when advocating for ourselves to receive the most accessible support when we visit a GP.  Public health screening services are also on our radar, and we are researching different accessibility provisions for screening services internationally, with a view to informing BCA’s advocacy to make these services more user friendly to us as people who are blind or vision impaired.

If you have any thoughts or experiences regarding access to screening services you would like to share, we would love to hear about them.

Last year the NPC commenced a large piece of work to redevelop a policy statement on education.  A lot has changed since BCA’s current policy on education was prepared in 2009.  Since then, online education has grown in popularity, delivered by both public and private providers; and there is the topical issue of access to education in a pandemic. The NPC will be redeveloping BCA’s policy statement on education, and we will be seeking your views and input, so please give this area some thought.

Have you had to scan a QR code recently, perhaps at a restaurant or other public venue?  QR codes aren’t always easy for us to scan, but are likely to be here to stay as we adapt to COVID normal.  Therefore, the NPC will develop a position statement on QR code accessibility, to assist BCA members and staff to advocate for the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired in this area.

Much more is planned by the NPC in 2021, and I look forward to sharing our work with you in Blind Citizens News and other BCA publications and media.  You can also contact me or the NPC through the BCA office.  The NPC is always keen to hear from members about areas where you think policy or position statements from BCA would be helpful, or your experiences using our existing policy statements.

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