Call to action: Lets shake things up with the Royal Commission

 

Inaccessible EFTPOS machines and ATMs continue to be rolled out across Australia, compromising the dignity, independence and privacy of many people who are blind or vision impaired. You may be aware that a Royal Commission is currently underway to inquire into instances of misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. This provides us with a unique opportunity to draw attention to this very important issue.

We are asking people to consider lodging a short submission with the Royal Commission every time they encounter an inaccessible EFTPOS machine or ATM that impacts on their ability to access financial services. The squeakiest wheel gets the most attention and by following this call to action, you will be helping to demonstrate how many people are being negatively impacted by the roll out of inaccessible touchscreen devices.

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission state:

“All Australians have the right to be treated honestly and fairly in their dealings with banking, superannuation and financial service providers. The highest standards of conduct are critical to the good governance and corporate culture of those providers.

And these standards should continue to be complemented by strong regulatory and supervisory frameworks that ensure that all Australian consumers, including business, have confidence and trust in the financial system.”

Clauses B and F of the terms of reference hold the most relevance to the issues that are faced by people who are blind or vision impaired. These clauses require the Commission to investigate:

“B) whether any conduct, practices, behaviour or business activities by financial services entities fall below community standards and expectations.

F) the adequacy of forms of industry self-regulation, including industry codes of conduct; to identify, regulate and address misconduct in the relevant industry, to meet community standards and expectations and to provide appropriate redress to consumers”

The Commission’s preference for receiving submissions is via an online submissions form, but there are also other options available. The online form will ask you to:

  • Describe the misconduct of the relevant financial services entity
  • When this conduct occurred
  • Your views on what contributed to this misconduct, and
  • Any steps you have taken to complain about the conduct and the outcome of your complaint.

The form also enables you to provide the Royal Commission with other comments, including your views on what changes you would like them to recommend.

You can complete the online submission form here.

If you need assistance to complete the form or require the form in another format, you can contact the Commission by phone on 1800 909 826, or by email at FSRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au

Thanks for reading, and please consider taking up this call to action to support the work we are doing at a national level. If we don’t speak out about this issue, no one else will.

 

 

Help us promote access and inclusion in your local community with our new EFTPOS accessibility postcards

Touchscreen technology has now entered the retail industry and is compromising the privacy, dignity and independence of people who are blind or vision impaired Australia-wide. BCA is working hard to address this issue at a national level, but we urgently need your help!

Perhaps you’ve already encountered an inaccessible touchscreen EFTPOS terminal when trying to pay for a product in a shop or settle the bill at a restaurant. If not though, you’re bound to come across one in your travels sometime soon. These devices do not have a physical keypad with buttons, and their touchscreen-only interface makes it difficult or impossible for many people who are blind or vision impaired to enter their PIN independently. This often results in a breach of privacy as people are left with no alternative but to divulge their PIN to another person in order to complete their transaction.

We need to make businesses more aware of the impact inaccessible touchscreen devices can have on customers who are blind or vision impaired, but it can be difficult for even the most experienced advocate to get the message across in some of the crowded and noisy environments where these devices are found. This is where our new advocacy tool comes in!

We’ve designed a postcard to enable any person who is blind or vision impaired who comes across an inaccessible touchscreen terminal to quickly and easily advocate for change. The front of the postcard includes the BCA logo and contact details, as well as the tag line:

“Use touch screen EFTPOS devices, lose touch with your customers”

The back of the postcard includes the following text:

“I want to pay you, but I can’t use your EFTPOS terminal because it does not have physical buttons. The touch screen design means that people who are blind or vision impaired like me cannot enter their PIN independently. I don’t want to share my PIN with you or anyone else – nor should I have to. Please give this card to your manager. Ask them to tell your bank to stop rolling out EFTPOS machines which can only be operated using touch screens and to give you a device with a keypad with buttons instead. This is the only legal and accessible way for a person who is blind or vision impaired to pay.”

Each postcard has a hole cut out of one corner to assist with orientation. When you are holding the postcard with the front facing towards you, the hole will be in the top left hand corner. If you are holding it with the back facing towards you, it will be in the right hand corner.

These postcards are available to you at no cost, all you have to do is contact us and ask for some to be sent to your nominated address. To assist with our work on this issue, we’d also really appreciate you getting in touch to let us know when and where you’ve used a postcard. You can contact us using the following details:

Phone 1800 033 660

SMS 0488 824 623

Email bca@bca.org.au

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

On Thursday 8 March our CEO Emma Bennison spoke at an International Women’s Day event hosted by Amnesty International. The theme was “Inspiring Women”, and you can read her words here.

 

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) Media for Immediate Release, 23 December 2014

‘Disability Peaks Forced to Close Doors on People with Disability’ said Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and spokesperson for the disability peaks.

Ten peak organisations run by people with disability will be left with no choice but to either close their doors or reduce services, with seven organisations subject to drastic funding cuts by outgoing Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews.

Together the disability peak bodies represent over 90% of Australians with disability and 83% of the identified disability groups in Australia. The organisations have over 200,000 supporters, including 140 organisations, consumer groups, service providers and carer associations.

“Organisations with over 200 combined years of expertise will be forced to shut their doors in three months time – leaving people who are blind, deaf, hearing impaired, people with intellectual disability, people with brain injury, people with autism and people with physical disabilities with no voice and no specialist representation”, said spokesperson Mr Matthew Wright.

“This expertise cannot be replicated. Once it’s lost, it’s lost. Our organisations have actively engaged in the Government’s workforce agenda, however this decision leaves our 200,000 constituents with a disability and their 140 supportive organisations out in the cold.

We believe that this decision, which reflects a misunderstanding of people with disability, will have significant ramifications on the ability of the Government to successfully implement reform for people with disability, including changes to income support and real efforts to increase economic participation.

Without specific representation, people with disability will be vulnerable to adverse outcomes in these areas and more.

This morning we requested an urgent meeting with incoming Minister Scott Morrison to discuss the decision before the voice of people with disability is irreversibly impacted”, said Mr Wright.

Consumer organisations that have been defunded or not funded to represent the specialist voice of people with disability under Department of Social Services contracts include:

  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Brain Injury Australia
  • Deaf Australia
  • Deafness Forum of Australia
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • National Council on Intellectual Disability
  • Physical Disability Australia
  • Short Statured People of Australia

Please direct all enquiries to Mr Matthew Wright on 0428 608 861.

Cheryl Gration
Personal Assistant to Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Level 2, 247 Flinders Lane, Melb 3000
T: 03 9662 3324 M: 0419 119 066
E: Cheryl Gration email
W: afdo website

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, the primary national voice to Government representing the interests of people with disability in Australia.

Brutal funding cuts no Christmas cheer for social services bodies

THE AUSTRALIAN (Newspaper) DECEMBER 22, 2014 7:53PM
Source: News Limited
Rick Morton – Social Affairs Reporter – Sydney
Rick Morton on Google Plus

Cruel Christmas for social services

Blind Citizens Australia national president Greg Madson: ‘Some can survive on other funding sources but many will have to close down.

The peak bodies for the disability, homelessness and community sectors were told which ones would lose funding just days before Christmas in an announcement from the Department of Social Services late this afternoon.

The budget-saving measure aims to haul back tens of millions of dollars by streamlining the number of representative bodies in the two sectors.

In the disability arena most condition-specific bodies like Blind Citizens Australia — which lost $190,000 — and two deaf groups, the Disability Advocacy Network Australia and Brain Injury Australia all had their funding revoked.

People with Disability Australia, First Peoples Disability Network, Children with Disability Australia and some other “cross-disability” organisations won funding.

Community Housing Federation Australia, National Shelter and Homelessness Australia also lost funding as part of a $21 million cut to the sector.

The new regime is part of the Department’s “A New Way of Working” grants process but the cuts came at the request of political masters looking for budget savings.

One source within the government said it was known the cuts would have to be “brutal”.

Some of the funding losses came only as a result of decisions taken for the most recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook update last week. Organisations were told only via phone call and told to keep the conversation confidential. They have still not received formal letters acknowledging the decision.

Blind Citizens Australia national president Greg Madson said peak body organisations would collapse.

“Some can survive on other funding sources but many will have to close down,” he said.

“It’s not a very nice realisation. We knew something was coming but we didn’t know it would look like this.”

Carol Croce, Executive Director of the Community Housing Federation Australia, said she was “profoundly disappointed”. The organisation’s funding was not only cut but its contract was severed one year in advance, stopping in June next year instead of 2016.

“We are profoundly disappointed at this decision,” she said.

“I just don’t understand how the government plans on continuing its discussions in these sectors when they are taking away the mechanisms to have those discussions about the future.”

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, which hoped to survive as a consortium for all condition-specific representative bodies also lost its funding.

The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments was also axed.

Greens spokeswoman on family and community services Rachel Siewert said the cuts delivered uncertainty.

“We’ve known that cuts were coming, but for organisations to hear the news that their funding has been cut just days before Christmas is very cruel,” she said.

“This inflicts maximum chaos and undermines the sector’s advocacy on behalf of vulnerable Australians.

“With a new Minister on the way, it is vital that organisations can engage on behalf of their stakeholders, but these cuts will make that impossible.”

The Department has been approached for comment.