An Important Message from Blind Citizens Australia President John Simpson

Dear members, colleagues and friends. It is with very mixed emotions that I write to let you know that our CEO, Emma Bennison recently tendered her resignation, to take effect from early in the new year.

Emma has served continuously on the Board, as President and then as CEO since October 2012. Her contribution over this entire period, to ensuring the organisation’s success, high standing in the community and development into the future, has been without equal in the history of this organisation.  But like all of us there comes a point when it’s time to say “my time is up and I need to move on to new challenges”.

While we will all miss Emma’s wisdom, commitment and drive, we need to say thanks for a job so very well done, “you have earned a break, go well and come back when you are refreshed and can contribute to BCA and its work in another capacity”.

While Emma has publicly stated her intention to move on to make way for fresh leadership on numerous occasions, she says the decision to resign has been difficult.

“Despite my active contributions to the development of BCA’s next generation of leaders and my public commitment to stepping back in the near future, the decision to resign has not been an easy one. This is because although all-consuming, the opportunity to lead BCA in various capacities over the past nine years has been the greatest privilege of my professional and community life to-date; and I find it difficult to contemplate a life beyond the organisation. I am acutely conscious though, that there are several highly skilled and passionate leaders who are ready to step up and it is time they had access to the extraordinary experiences that come with leading our growing organisation.”

Under Emma’s leadership, BCA has been transformed. Turnover has increased from $450,000 in 2017 to over $1.4 million today. Her vision to introduce remote working has enabled BCA to attract talented staff from across Australia. As a result, there are now nineteen staff currently employed across five states, two-thirds of whom are blind or vision impaired and/or have other impairments. Her strong commitment to member communications and engagement has resulted in numerous innovations, like recorded information available via BCA’s phone system and an inbound and outbound text messaging service.  BCA’s constructive approach to systemic advocacy is now widely acknowledged by government and other stakeholders. In particular, BCA’s leadership in securing the inclusion of Audio Description on ABC and SBS television has been a highlight.

In reflecting on her contribution, Emma attributes the organisation’s success to team work.

“I feel extremely proud to have contributed to transforming BCA into the strong and sustainable organisation it is today. None of BCA’s recent achievements would have been possible though, without the unfailing dedication of staff and directors both past and present and of the many former BCA leaders who offered their wisdom and experience. Their support of me and their unwavering commitment to BCA has been critical. Above all though, as I’ve said many times before, it is our members and all Australians who are blind or vision impaired who are the heartbeat of our organisation and I am immeasurably grateful to each and every one of them for the many and varied contributions they make to ensuring BCA stays true to its mission to inform, connect and empower Australians who are blind or vision impaired and the broader community.”

Emma will work out a four month notice period until late January, 2022 to allow time for recruitment and hand over to a new CEO. The recruitment process will be managed by an external recruitment Agency and the board hopes to make an appointment by Christmas. For now though, it is business as usual and Emma is working with the board and senior management team to facilitate a smooth transition. Beyond that, Emma is looking forward to exploring new leadership possibilities and to contributing to BCA in the future.