Launch of the BCA NSW/ACT State Division to be audio streamed!

 

The BCA Board and NSW/ACT State Division Committee invite you to join us to celebrate the launch of our first state division. The launch will be held on Saturday July 14th at the Newcastle Travelodge.

The event will be streamed via the links below.

The NSW/ACT State Division was formed when, in late  2017, the decision was made to consolidate Blind Citizens New South Wales into Blind Citizens Australia. Since then, the State Division Committee has developed its first annual plan, which sets out an ambitious but sustainable road map for the new state division in its first eighteen months.

The Internet broadcast will commence at 10:20AM (AEST) on Saturday July 14th and the program will include:

  • A welcome to Newcastle from Stephen Belbin, President Newcastle Hunter Valley Branch
  • Introductory Comments by John Simpson, BCA President
  • Launch of BCA NSW/ACT State Division by Michael Simpson General Manager NSW/ACT Vision Australia
  • A national update from Emma Bennison, BCA CEO
  • Information about the forthcoming BCA NSW/ACT State Convention and “Spring into Action Month” from Joana d’Orey Novo, Chair BCA NSW/ACT State Division
  • An Introduction to the NSW/ACT State Division Plan by Krystel Malcolm and Sally Aurisch – NSW/ACT Co-Ordinators
  • Announcement of a new partnership between BCA and the Guide Dogs Association of NSW/ACT from John Simpson and James Bennett, Director, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

The event will conclude with an open Question and Answer session. You can submit your questions and comments by text message to 0488 824 623.

To join the program, follow these links:

 

Media Release: Four Lucky Aussie Teens to Experience Summer Camp in the States

 

Download Word version

Blind Citizens Australia, as part of their commitment to providing opportunities for young people who are blind or vision impaired, has selected four teenagers this July to attend Enchanted Hills Summer Camp in California, USA.

Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat (EHC) provides programs for blind children, teens, adults, deaf-blind, seniors, as well as families of the blind. Since 1950, Enchanted Hills has delivered valuable opportunities for recreation in a fun, challenging and accessible way. Located on 311 acres on scenic Mt. Veeder, Enchanted Hills is just 10 miles west of Napa, California.

This year’s Teen Session runs from 19 – 27 July and is attended by 60 campers aged between 15 – 20 who are all blind or vision impaired. Campers participate in outdoor recreational activities, art and craft, music and drama, swimming, horse riding, cooking, hiking and a variety of other activities.

Many of the staff are blind and vision impaired and work closely with the campers to facilitate their time there as well as acting as role models.

Tyan Taylor, 28 from Berowra and Tess Whelan, 21 from Melbourne will be mentoring the teens during their trip to the States and will also work as the Recreation Area Leader and Dinner Cook respectively.

Tyan believes it is important for teenagers to experience something like the Enchanted Hills Camp and is returning this year to not only work in the camp but also support the young Australian’s attending for the first time.

“With such a strong mentoring staff at EHC it allows campers to not only build on existing skills but challenges campers to help encourage the development of problem solving skills and team work through a range of different activities and experiences all within a nurturing environment,” said Ms Taylor.

“EHC offers a chance to share experiences and skills with others in a fun and relaxed environment. This allows campers to gain better insight into not seeing their impairment or disability as a negative but to see the potential and to chase their dreams.”

Anthony Fletcher, Director of Enchanted Hills Camp also believes that meeting other mentors who are blind or vision impaired from different backgrounds can empower ideas about blindness, develop confidence and a positive philosophy.

“One of the best features of a cultural exchange program is the chance to make new friends for a lifetime, both inside and outside the camp environment,” said Mr Fletcher.

“Whether you are sharing a cabin or participating in the same activities, these programs allow campers to make friendships that could last a lifetime.”

Blind Citizens Australia CEO, Emma Bennison, is thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to the four young people chosen to attend EHC.

“Part of our strategic plan moving forward is to continue to look for ways to develop future young leaders from within the blind and vision impaired community,” she said.

“I am sure these four teenagers will have a life changing experience and BCA is excited to be able to facilitate this. It is our hope that in the future we can deliver a similar camp experience here in Australia and allow more young Australians who are blind or vision impaired these opportunities to interact with each other and build on their leadership and life skills.”

The four Australians who will be attending EHC are Zaheera Casoojee,18 from Springwood, Queensland, Griffith D’Souze, 18 from Rooty Hill, New South Wales, Jess Clark 19 from Sydney, New South Wales and Alayna Campbell 20 from Bendigo, Victoria.

For more information please contact:

Kathie Kelly
Fundraising and Social Media Consultant
Blind Citizens Australia
Phone: 0439 724304
Email: kathie.kelly@bca.org.au

 

Background Info

Who is Blind Citizens Australia?

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the national organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired and is recognised as the major peak representative body for this constituency. Since 1975, BCA has provided information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services to its members and the wider community.

BCA Branches act as local representative groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members. It has grown to an organisation of 3000 individual members and seven affiliated organisations.

Our mission is “to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs”.

With over forty years of history, BCA has worked tirelessly “To Change What it Means to be Blind” both for Australians who experience vision loss and for blind and vision impaired people throughout the world.

Specifically this has included:

  • providing peer support
  • providing individual and systemic advocacy
  • facilitating information exchange
  • empowering its members
  • promoting positive community attitudes
  • striving for high quality and accessible services which meet individual needs
  • promoting research into the causes and amelioration of the impact of blindness and vision impairment

As the national voice of people who are blind or vision impaired BCA has a seat on many Government, commercial and community sector advisory bodies. BCA’s individual advocacy service is available to all Australians who experience vision loss. With a focus on issues that impact on the individual because of their blindness/vision impairment, BCA works both directly and through specialist community advocates, to resolve issues in a constructive and educative manner and draws on more formal processes where a mutually agreeable solution cannot be found.

BCA has been an active member of the World Blind Union at both the World and Regional levels since its creation in 1984. Over that period two of the senior members have held office as World President and several more have served on the World and Regional Executives and various standing committees. In November 2000 BCA was the lead organisation for the hosting in Melbourne of the WBU 5th General Assembly. BCA has also lead capacity building projects in Fiji and Vietnam and has participated in many international conferences and forums.

In association with its policy development and advocacy work, BCA has undertaken a range of blindness related research projects. Several of these resulted in published papers.

For further information about Enchanted Hills Camp visit: http://lighthouse-sf.org/enchanted-hills/about-enchanted-hills/

Please let us know if you’d like this information in another format for accessibility.

 

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.

 

 

Blind Citizens Australia’s summary of the 2018-19 federal budget

The 2018-19 federal budget was released on Tuesday 8th May 2018. Blind Citizens Australia has long advocated for budget measures that support people who are blind or vision impaired and as such, the following areas may be of relevance: Read more.

Introducing the new editor of Blind Citizens News

“As editor, I hope to bring a wider variety of voices and views to BC News, to reflect the incredible diversity of ideas and perspectives which I see in the Australian blind community. I’m here to help you tell your stories.”

Find out more about Jonathan Craig, and about how you can contribute to the next edition of BC News this April.