Dates for Your Diary

By Jonathan Craig

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As usual, there’s a lot coming up in BCA’s calendar, and we understand that it can be difficult to keep track of everything. This section is our attempt to make things easier for you, by collating all the dates in one place for handy referencing. This time round, information about our upcoming AGMs, Spring into Action, and our next National Convention in 2021.

Spring into Action

The NSW/ACT State Division will be organising various social events throughout October as part of their Spring into Action program. Stephen Belbin provides more detail about what you can expect in his piece on the program, and you can expect more events to be announced soon. You can also get in touch with Stephen directly using the contact details at the end of this issue.

National Women’s Branch Annual General Meeting

The AGM and elections for the National Women’s Branch will be held on Saturday, November 16, at 1 PM Melbourne time. For more info about them, please see the branch update earlier this issue, or get in touch with branch President Janene Sadhu via the BCA office, or using the contact details later this issue.

BCA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting

This year’s BCA Annual General Meeting will be held in Sydney on Saturday, November 30. We are currently confirming details but expect that the AGM will run from around 11:00 am for an hour or so and will be followed by a social event. We will let you have more information including venue details shortly.

Again this year we will be working to make the meeting available to our members across the country. In particular, we will be using technology to allow for members to gather in various locations where they can be linked into the Sydney meeting via video conference. We are asking our branches to consider hosting a satellite gathering in their location and envisage that this might include being part of the AGM and then holding a local social function as an end of year celebration. Members who join through these locations will be able to participate fully in the meeting as they will be able to ask questions and cast their vote on key business items.

For those who will not be able to attend in Sydney or at one of the satellite venues we will again stream the meeting via the Internet so it will be available via a computer, smart phone or other internet enabled device.

2019 BCA Election Process

Ahead of the AGM we will be conducting elections for vacant positions on the BCA Board and National Policy Council. This year one Director position will fall vacant and we will be calling for nominees for election to the National Policy Council from members in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. In addition, elections are due in NSW and the ACT for membership of the NSW/ACT State Division Committee. We will conduct these elections in parallel with the Board and NPC ballots.

WBU and ICEVI Joint General Assemblies

The World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) will be holding their third Joint General Assemblies in Madrid, Spain, from the 19th to the 24th of June 2020. The WBU is an internationally recognised organisation representing people who are blind or vision impaired in 190 member countries. The ICEVI is a membership organisation with a mission to promote education for all children who are blind or vision impaired, almost 90 per cent of whom live in low income settings.

The ASSEMBLIES, which will take place at the Marriott Hotel, will be hosted by ONCE, the National Organisation for people who are blind or vision impaired in Spain. BCA will be represented by CEO Emma Bennison and BCA’s vice President, Helen Freris. Observers are also welcome to attend the assemblies. If you’re interested in attending, or for more details, please direct inquiries, in the first instance, to Emma Bennison, via email to

National Convention 2021

Following our most successful Convention ever, held in Hobart earlier in the year, we are already planning for “Convention 21”. This will be held in the Brisbane area over the weekend from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th April 2021. We anticipate the event will be similar in format to the Hobart Convention, with subject specific workshops on the Friday and a range of social activities on the Monday.

As with the Hobart convention, there will be plenty of opportunities for members to contribute to the planning of the event. We will update you with further details as they come to hand.

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2019 Annual General Meeting

Event Details

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) will hold its 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 30th November at 11:00AM (AEST). You can participate in the AGM if you are in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane.

The Sydney venue is at the offices of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, 2-4 Thomas Street, Chatswood. Taxis can stop directly outside the building. If travelling by train, you can use the Metro or North shore Line trains. The venue is a one-minute walk from Chatswood station. When you come out of the station gates, turn right, then follow the ramp then ascend the stairs. At the top of the stairs cross at the crossing, then the building is about 50 metres up on your left hand side. BCA staff will be at the gates of the station from 10:00 to 10:45AM to direct you. The Sydney event will be followed by lunch and a Scavenger Hunt for those who wish to make a day of it.

The Melbourne venue is the offices of Vision 2020 Australia, Level 3, 33 Lincoln Square South, Carlton. Lincoln Square South runs off Swanston Street Carlton. Take any Melbourne University Tram along Swanston Street and alight at stop 3 (Lincoln Square) walk back toward the city and Lincoln Square South is the first street on your right. Vision 2020 is in the Save the Children building, on your left as you walk away from Swanston Street.

The Brisbane venue is the offices of Vision Australia, 373 Old Cleveland Road Coorparoo and the meeting commences at 10:00AM local time. Bus Services 203 and 204 stop immediately outside the Vision Australia entrance.   

Please make sure you register if you wish to attend one of the events.

Anyone who is unable to attend these events in person will be able to listen to the proceedings via a live stream available on this page.

The Agenda for the AGM includes presentation and discussion of the Annual Review and the Directors’ Report and Financial Statements; as well as the announcement of the election of Directors, National Policy Council (NPC) Representatives and Members of the NSW/ACT State Division Committee. There are no items of Special Business for consideration at this year’s AGM. 

All Full Members are entitled to one vote each in relation to any resolution put to the AGM. If Full Members are unable to attend this meeting in person, they may appoint the Chairperson, or another Full Member as a Proxy. Information about proxy voting is available by contacting BCA, and a proxy form can be downloaded here.   

It is important to note that no election will take place at the AGM. Telephone and SMS voting will again be available for this year’s elections. Read on for more details.

Scavenger Hunt

It has been a long-held tradition for Blind Citizens NSW to host a social event after the AGM. Although our organisations have consolidated, we would like to carry on this tradition and invite you to participate in this years’ event.

We are partnering with Bold Horizons, an organisation that runs orienteering events in NSW to offer a team-based scavenger hunt in Chatswood, Sydney.

The event will run for two hours, during which teams will have the opportunity to trek all over the suburb, finding things, completing creative, physical and logic based challenges to earn points for their teams in the hope of winning the grand prize and, some serious bragging rights!

There will be several challenges and teams can choose which ones they will complete to ensure it meets the skills, interest and needs of the group. The more challenges your team attempts the more points you’ll earn.

There will also be several staff from BCA and Bold Horizon’s on site to provide additional direction and support.

The final challenge of the day will be to locate the finish line, a location where you are welcome to stick around and enjoy a catch up and, for the winning team, collect your prizes.

Registration is essential – you can do this when you register for the AGM HERE.

Nominations and Elections

Recently, members received a call for nominations for the positions of two Directors, seven positions on the NSW/ACT State Division Committee, (one from the ACT and six from NSW) and National Policy Council, (NPC) representatives for SA, VIC, QLD and TAS.

At the close of nominations on 21 October, BCA received the following nominations:

Four nominees for the two Director positions:

  • Lauren Henley
  • Suzanne Hudson
  • Doug McGinn
  • Steve Richardson

Seven nominations to fill six positions representing NSW on the NSW/ACT State Division Committee:

  • Stephen Belbin
  • Joana D’orey Novo
  • Kristy Fitzgerald
  • Suzanne Hudson
  • Graeme Innes
  • Susan Thompson
  • Marie Shang

One nomination for the position of ACT representative on the NSW/ACT State Division Committee:

  • Robert Altamore

Nominations for NPC Positions are:

  • SA: no nominees
  • QLD: no nominees
  • TAS: 1 nomination received from David Morrell
  • VIC: no nominees


  • David Morrell is elected unopposed as Tasmania’s representative on the NPC. Following the AGM, expressions of interest will be sought from members residing in SA, QLD and VIC to fill the remaining vacancies.
  • Robert Altamore is elected unopposed as ACT representative to the NSW/ACT State Division Committee. 

It is therefore necessary to conduct ballots among BCA Full Members for the two Director positions and for the six NSW representatives to the NSW/ACT State Division Committee.


The Board has resolved to use telephone voting for this year’s elections. All eligible full members of BCA will have the opportunity to vote via telephone and those who are Deafblind or have a speech impairment will be able to access the voting process via SMS.

Below you will find detailed information about the voting process. Please also review the following documents before you vote:

Below are instructions for casting your vote, please follow these carefully.

Ways to Cast Your Vote

Voting will open on Monday, 11 November and will close on Monday, 25 November. An Independent Returning Officer has been appointed to ensure the confidentiality of the voting process. Members contact details and their voting choices will be recorded on separate (unconnected) databases.

Generally, votes will be accepted by telephone, however, members who are Deafblind or who experience speech difficulties and need assistance to cast their vote via phone may do so confidentially using the National Relay Service on 13 36 77, text messaging will also be available for contact with the Returning Officer.   

Members are encouraged to vote early to avoid a last minute rush.

Casting a Telephone Vote

Telephone voting will be available at the following times from 11 to 25 November:

  • From Monday to Friday between 11:00AM and 3:00PM and again between 5:00PM and 8:00PM Eastern Daylight Saving Time.
  • On Saturdays from 11:00AM to 3:00PM Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Voting will close at 8:00PM Eastern Daylight Saving Time on Monday 25 November. For your votes to be counted, you must have contacted the Returning Officer, or at least left a phone or text message with your name and contact details, by this time. 

PLEASE NOTE: The Returning Officer will only return calls from members who have provided full contact details before 8:00PM (EDST) on Monday 25 November 2019.           

To cast your vote via telephone, please use the following checklist:

  1. Review the nominee supporting statements for all applicable elections and decide who you wish to vote for.  Remember that BCA does not use preferential voting, so there is no need to rank your preferences.
  2. Call the dedicated BCA election hotline on 03 8417 1007 and be prepared to cast your vote in applicable elections.
  3. If the Returning Officer is on another call or unavailable, you will be asked to leave a message with your name and telephone number and will receive a call back as soon as possible.
  4. When you speak with the independent Returning Officer, you will need to provide your name, telephone number and state of residence. You will also be asked to provide one additional detail from your membership record for security purposes, (such as address or date of birth), so you can be marked off the electoral role.
  5. You can then cast your votes which will be recorded by the Returning Officer. You will not be permitted to vote for more than two candidates for Director positions. If you reside in NSW, you will be prompted to vote for up to six members to serve as NSW/ACT State Division Committee representatives from NSW.  Beyond ensuring that you have cast a valid vote in all elections where you are eligible to participate, the Returning Officer is not permitted to discuss any aspect of the election with you.
  6. The Returning Officer will read your votes back to you to enable you to verify that they have been recorded according to your instructions.
  7. Once you are satisfied that your votes have been correctly recorded, they will be submitted.  Votes cannot be changed once submitted.

Participating via Text Message

If using the text message option, please do the following:

  1. Text your full name and state of residence to 0436 446 780 during the period 11 to 25 November.  Include either a current email address or preferred contact number and indicate if you prefer to be called directly or via the National Relay Service.  Depending on your contact preference, you will receive a call or email to enable you to cast your votes.
  2. If voting via a call back, please refer to the telephone voting checklist above for further information on how your vote will be recorded.
  3. If voting via email, you will receive an electronic voting form and detailed instructions on how to cast your vote and ensure it has been recorded accurately.

At the close of the polls, the Returning Officer will count the votes and the tallies will be checked by the scrutineer. The results will be announced by the Company Secretary at the BCA AGM on 30 November, 2019.

Please contact BCA on 1800 033 660 or at if you require any further information to assist you in how to cast your vote.


Blind Citizens Australia Sydney Branch Mid-Year Function

Blind Citizens Australia Sydney Branch warmly invites you to our mid-year social function.

When: Sunday 21 July 2019
Time: 11.30 AM arrival for a 12 PM start with a finish time of 4 PM

Location: Croydon park club
Address: 55 Seymour Street, Croydon Park, Sydney NSW
Phone: 02 8741 288

NOTE: information regarding transport options is available from the Sydney Branch using the contact details included below.

Cost: $35 per person

This includes a 2 course meal (main and dessert) and coffee.

Other drinks will be available from the bar at additional cost.


Activities on the day will include:

  • We Remember – a Tribute to people in Sydney who have played an important role in changing what it means to be blind who have recently past
  • BCA update
  • Trivia
  • A chance for members to display their talent through live entertainment
  • Opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones


For catering purposes, payment is required prior to the event.

RSVPs must be received by the BCA Office no later than close of business on Thursday, 11 July 2019.

Phone: 1800 033 660.

IMPORTANT NOTE: RSVPs and payments cannot be received after the July 11 deadline.  Nor can refunds be made after that date.

Payment Options

Payment can be made using a credit card, or via direct deposit into the Sydney Branch bank account. Call BCA for further details on 1800 033 660.

When contacting the BCA Office to RSVP, you can pay via credit card providing relevant details (card type, number and expiry date).

Need More Information?

For more information regarding the up-coming function, or to express interest in assisting us with entertainment on the day, please contact BCA Sydney Branch via email:
Or call 0407 492 102

We hope you can join us on July 21 for what promises to be an enjoyable event.

Sondra Wibberley
Blind Citizens Australia Sydney Branch

Life Ready Program

Life Ready focusses on developing your independence and skills to empower you to live the life you choose.

Life Ready will consist of a series of interactive teleconferences throughout the beginning of 2019 and participants will then have the opportunity to participate in an immersion weekend where they will be supported by peers to develop the practical skills related to living an independent life.

This program will cover the following topics:

  • Accessing the support you need to get the most out of your Education
  • Careers: looking for work and succeeding at work
  • The benefits of peer support and the role a mentor can play in your life
  • Moving out of home and living independently
  • Getting out into the community and participating in mainstream sport, recreational and cultural events
  • Accessing a variety of supports and services
  • Tools for self advocacy

Blind Citizens Australia recognises that vision can change at any age and that acquiring independent living skills is a lifelong process. This program is suitable for anyone who will be over the age of 18 by April 2019.

If you would like to participate in the Life Ready program it is expected that you will participate in all of the teleconferences and the immersion weekend as well as an evaluation process at the conclusion of the project.

For more information about the program or if you require assistance to complete your application, please call Sally on 1800 033 660.