Introducing Our Life Ready Podcast Series

By Sally Aurisch

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The word “diversity” is often used to describe different cultural backgrounds, but its meaning goes much further than this. Diversity recognises all of the differences that make us individuals, with unique stories, experiences, values and dreams.

Through BCA’s Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) project, we are highlighting some of the diversity within the blind and vision impaired community through a series of podcasts. These podcasts feature five very different members of BCA, and begin to share their stories.

This series of podcasts follows a session at our National Convention on “The many faces of Independence”. The discussion, hosted by Rikki Chaplin and Steve Richardson, raised the notion that although we have different strengths and skills, and choose to live our lives in many varied ways, this diversity is a strength, not a weakness for our community.

The Life Ready podcasts are now available for download from our Audio page, or through the Blind Citizens Australia podcast feed. Have a listen and continue the discussion on the importance of diversity within BCA, and how we can use it to bring us closer together, not further apart.

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Letter to the Editor: Observations on Travel

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Dear Editor,

Recently I spent a few weeks travelling in Sweden and Ireland, and I found it interesting to take note of what I encountered along the way as a blind traveller. I’ve been doing this for quite a long time now, in many different parts of the world, and it has been interesting to note the changes over time and the differences between countries.

Air travel, for instance, has changed both a lot and very little. There is increasing reliance on electronic ticketing – not necessarily easy for a person without sight to manage in crowded, noisy environments under time pressure (assuming, of course, the possession of an appropriate device).

Then there’s the airport security – a nightmare for most people, but with its own special challenges if one is blind:  being separated from all one’s possessions, often for lengthy periods and without any means of keeping track of them; being separated from one’s mobility aid and often manhandled by staff without any experience of either guiding or interacting with blind people; and, especially where there is no shared language, being instructed, led, pushed, pulled without much, or any, knowledge of what is happening, and why.

On long-haul flights especially, there is much emphasis on in-flight entertainment systems as a source of diversion and, increasingly, information about the aircraft, flight details, amenities, and so on. A growing number of airlines even include Audio Described movies among their offerings! But here we encounter a problem: the controls for the devices which deliver all this are mostly touch screens – so no independent access to anything for those who cannot see.

On some of my recent flights, I couldn’t even adjust my seat without using the touch screen.

And, while Audio Described movies might be quite an advance, if no one tells you they are there, any advance is entirely hypothetical. I found on most of my flights that the cabin crew did not know how to access the Audio Description – presumably because they weren’t familiar with it. So operational training remains important, no matter how much automation and software is incorporated into the picture.

The big long-haul planes are becoming increasingly complex environments for passengers, so a lot of information is required to know what’s available, where, when, and how to use it. This information is delivered to passengers in a variety of ways, but little of it is routinely given to blind passengers. On a recent flight I was unaware, until just before landing, that right behind where I was sitting there was an area where passengers could help themselves to fresh fruit throughout the flight – and I had been hanging out for some fruit for hours!

If information is provided in any alternate format, it is almost always in braille (used by only a small proportion of us), and is restricted to the most basic information about the aircraft safety features. We need more than that, obviously, if we are to be safe, comfortable, and even fed and entertained!

In both Sweden and Ireland, I was interested to find that Audio Description on television was available – and the (sighted) people I spoke to were really interested to find out about this, as they had no idea such a thing existed. In Sweden the Audio Description was not of any use to me as it is, of course, in Swedish (not a language in which I have any facility!). But in Ireland it was a delight to be able to consult the programme guide about which programmes were Audio Described (quite a few) and then to select what I wanted to watch. It reminded me of the much-enjoyed ABC trials, now only a distant memory in Australia!

Interestingly, while Sweden is in many ways a progressive social democracy which has high levels of services for citizens (and others, too, in many instances), I wasn’t especially impressed by the accessibility of many public institutions. Physical access had been given some attention (for instance, widespread use of ramps and tactile ground surface indicators), in a context where many buildings are very old and pose difficult access problems.

The place where I encountered really limited access for vision impaired people was in some of the major cultural institutions. I found little evidence of braille, and almost nothing which made museum collections, for instance, accessible. With the help of Swedish friends, I went to the websites of these places before visiting them, but there was little to indicate disability awareness. Even the audio guides which were available at the major museums were touch screen devices which were completely inaccessible without sight.

After one frustrating visit, I contacted the museum’s access person to ask about access arrangements – but the best she could offer was that from time to time they had exhibitions which blind people were allowed to touch. Not impressive! By contrast, in Portugal (a poorer country, not especially known for progressive or democratic social policy) I was on numerous occasions offered braille guide books and encouraged to go into areas where I could have “close encounters” with rare and precious exhibits.

These are just a few of my observations from my recent travels. Rikki Chaplin’s article in the March issue of the News reminded me of the vulnerability we often experience, or anticipate, when travelling – but it reminded me of the kindness of strangers, too. When we choose to put ourselves “out there” we encounter both, I suppose, and sometimes forewarned is forearmed. In any case, I’d really be interested in learning more about other people’s travel experiences, wherever they are.

Lynne Davis


Thank you, Lynne, for your very thoughtful remarks. Some readers may not be aware that you are a former Editor of this publication, so this is in fact a Letter from one Editor to another. It’s a real privilege to have you in the conversation.

I was struck by a repeated theme throughout your comments. You mentioned several occasions where accessibility had been attempted, but not at all well-implemented. It’s frustrating to feel so close, and yet so far, from genuine inclusion. You’re right, of course, to point out the importance of people in achieving genuine accessibility. A little more training for flight attendants would have gone a long way, as, I suspect, would better consultation with the blind and vision impaired community during the planning stages for some of these features.

I also think it’s fascinating to compare attitudes and policies in different countries, and would love some input from other travellers around accessibility in the places they visited. But like you, and like many of our readers, I’m intrigued by all travel experiences, by the unique challenges we have to navigate, and the unique rewards that send us questing out of our comfort zones. If you have a story to tell, write us your own Letter to the Editor, or get in touch with us via phone, Facebook or Twitter.

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By Jonathan Craig

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If you weren’t at our recent National Convention, one of the main things you will have missed was the feeling of contented exhaustion we all shared throughout Monday as we prepared to leave. “I have no idea what day it is,” John Simpson had said over breakfast. I felt much the same, like I was emerging, blinking, into the real world, after a few days at a party where I could mention Audio Description, and not be met by stares so blank they needed no describing.

By the time I arrived at Hobart airport, I was unusually thankful for my wheels. “Did you have a good Convention?” asked the woman at the check-in desk. I did a double take. Had I taken a wrong turn, and ended up back at the hotel? Thankfully no. It seemed the party was following me home.

“There are three more of you guys on this flight,” my assistant said as she wheeled me toward the gate, where sure enough, several fellow Melbournites were waiting. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, given that I’d had another fellow attendee on my inbound flight a few days earlier. But the novelty of being part of such a critical mass of “my people” hadn’t worn off.

I had expected my first Convention to be full of inspiring ideas and enlightening conversations, and of course I wasn’t disappointed. Technology was a hot topic, following an intriguing keynote address from Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti. Ironically, Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow’s warnings about new technology were frequently interrupted by technical difficulties, but we aim to unpack some of his ideas in future issues.

Sessions on new mobility tips and taking the stress out of travelling alone reflected the ways technology is continuing to improve our independence. But in our discussion on “the future of work”, we grappled with some of the more worrying trends technology is causing. Former Vocational Consultant Ross Miller follows up that session with some intriguing suggestions in this issue’s feature essay.

But there was another aspect of Convention which isn’t so easily conveyed by our coverage. You might have caught a hint of it in the session on living with multiple disabilities, in which I was a panellist. That session’s moderator, Steve Richardson, recently learned that we both share the same incredibly rare genetic condition, which causes both blindness and brittle bones. I think we were both moved by how interested people were in hearing our perspective. Steve writes about some of his personal experience later in this issue.

The Convention dinner was a great opportunity to personally meet many of the writers and readers I’ve been working with this past year. This was facilitated by a roll call for each table. To catch up with someone, all you need do is remember the number of the table where they sat, or the direction from which you heard their voice. I was struck by the elegance of this solution, and the energy and efficiency with which our volunteers helped us pull it off.

In his acceptance speech, Martin Stewart, who received the David Blyth award, spoke about his tireless campaigning for better and safer public transport, which began when he was around my age. He described how David had mentored and encouraged him, and how proud he was to have lived up to his example.

I’ve gotten to know Martin through reporting on his recent advocacy work. He has been an energetic supporter of the magazine, and a genuine and generous mentor to me personally. For me, this was a powerful moment, where one generation honour the next, who in turn inspired a third.

The presentation of the Diana Braun Aspirations Award to her friend and colleague Robyn Bousie took on a new poignancy following her passing not long after Convention. I never knew or spoke to Diana myself, but those who did tell many stories about her pioneering work carving out spaces for women who are blind or vision impaired.

Given how many women now hold prominent roles within BCA, and the community more generally, it’s easy to forget that not long ago, things were very different.

In the same way, when you’re standing on the platform, you barely notice the announcements about upcoming trains, which were the result of a long advocacy battle for Martin and others.

The problems my generation is facing may be very different, but as we united to applaud the award recipients, I realised that many of the things we now find commonplace once seemed as out-of-reach to them as our goals seem to us. And I felt thankful that they were here with me, to offer the benefit of their experience, and remind me that we can achieve the seemingly impossible.

I believe BCA is working very hard to inform members about our current advocacy work. I’m especially impressed by our commitment to including those who couldn’t attend the Convention via our streams and message lines, as well as the nightly recaps Vaughn Bennison and I produced.

But none of that could convey the sense of solidarity I felt throughout the weekend, in countless encounters with people young and old, with various levels of sight, with a variety of other disabilities, each with their own skills, stories, and ideas. Whatever our perspective, we were all there for the same reason: to work together to build a better future.

I left Convention feeling encouraged by our long history of victories, supported by the wisdom of my peers, and empowered by our sense of genuine unity. This, as much as anything else, is why Convention and all our other gatherings are so important – because that solidarity is what makes our big dreams seem achievable.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to bring people together. I’ve already written about the importance of story-telling, which is what this magazine is for. Similarly, our two new podcast series’ take a deeper look at what community means in the past and in the present. And I’m very proud of all the innovative ways we’re supporting new leaders and mentors, and using technology to connect people all over the country.

But from now on, whenever I think about BCA, I will remember the sound of so many of us gathered in one room, all in noisy, enthusiastic conversation. At my first Convention, the most important thing I learned was that advocacy is what we do, but community is who we are.

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Accepted Forms of ID

Australia does not have an identity card. Instead, various documents may be used or required to prove a person’s identity.

There is no consistent standard for verifying identity. For most purposes, an Australian driver’s licence or Australian photo card will suffice; however, for more sophisticated transactions (e.g. applying for a passport or opening a bank account), each institution tends to have its own rules.

On this page:

Key Pass

The Australia Post Key Pass identity card is an identification card showing your photo, name, address, date of birth and signature. The card is accepted as proof of age for entry into venues throughout Australia which display a sign saying they accept the card as proof of identity. To apply for the card, visit your local Australia Post or download the application form online at:


ID Requirements

For a new Key Pass, you will need to have the following combination of documents:

  • 1 X Category A and
  • 1 X Category B and
  • 1 X Category C or Category B

You must have 1 Photo ID (mandatory), and if your current resident address is not shown, choose 1 X Category D. If 1 or more identity documents do not match the application name, choose 1 X Category E

You will need to take the original identity documents to your Australia Post Office along with your application.


  • All documents must be current unless specified otherwise. If a document is not in English, please provide a translation, this must be completed by a NAATI accredited translator
  • In most cases, you cannot choose the same document for separate categories. Exceptions are:
    • Ability to choose Immicard in Category A and Immicard in Category B
    • Ability to choose Australian Visa/International Passport (Foreign) in Category A and International Passport (Foreign) in Category B.

Category A:

  • Australian Birth Certificate (not an extract)
  • Citizenship Certificate
  • International Passport (if not in English, with a translation by a NAATI accredited translator)
  • Australian Visa
  • Australian Passport (up to two years expired)
  • Immigration Card

Category B:

  • Firearms License
  • Australian Learners Permit
  • Australian Driver’s Licence
  • Australian Passport
  • Consular Photo Identity Card (issued by Department of Foreign Affairs)
  • Working with Children Check Card
  • International Passport (Foreign)
  • Police Force Officer Photo Identity Card
  • Australian Defence Force Photo Identity Card
  • Aviation Security Identification Card
  • Maritime Security Identification Card
  • Student Identification Card
  • Proof of Age Card (Government issued)
  • High Risk Work Licence (issued by Australian State/Territory WorkSafe or SafeWork)

Category C:

  • Australian Birth Certificate (not an extract)
  • Medicare Card
  • Student Identification Card with a Photo (issued by an Australian University, Australian TAFE or Secondary School)
  • Australian Electoral Role Card
  • Identity Document Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
  • Identity Certificate Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
  • United Nations Travel Document Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
  • Foreign Birth Certificate
  • Foreign Driver’s License
  • Government Benefit – Department of Veteran Affairs Card
  • Certified Australian University Academic Transcript
  • Debit / Credit or Savings Card
  • Tax Assessment Statement Notice

All documents must be originals.

Category D:

  • Choose one option if your current address is not shown on any of your identity documents:
    • Utility Notice (no older than 3 months)
    • Telecommunications Bill (no older than 12 months)
    • Bank Statement (no older than 6 months)
    • Australian Learner’s Permit

Category E:

  • Choose one option if your application name differs from the name on your identity documents:
    • Marriage Certificate (Australian and Change of Name Certificate

Duration: 5 years
Cost: Adult $39.95, Concession $29.95 (eligible government concession cards must be cited), NT Resident $25.00

Australian Capital Territory

ID: Proof of Age Card

To obtain a Proof of Age card the applicant must be 18 years of age or older on the day of application. The application must be made in person at any Canberra Connect Shopfront or the Civic Driver Licence Service and provide original copies of both proof of identity and residency and proof of age.

Phone: 13 22 81

ID Requirements

Primary proof of identity:

  • A photographic driver’s licence issued in Australia (current or expired up to two years)
  • An Australian birth certificate (not a Commonwealth certificate and not an extract). If the certificate is not in the same name currently used, appropriate linking documentation such as a marriage certificate is required
  • Australia passport (current or expired up to two years)
  • Overseas passport (current or expired up to two years)
  • Australian citizenship certificate or naturalisation certificate
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection travel document (valid up to five years after issue)
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection evidence of immigration status (EIS)
  • ImmiCard (valid to date of expiry)
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection permanent resident evidence (PRE)
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection Australian migration status (AMS)
  • Police Officer photographic identity card (from the ACT only)
  • Australian proof of age card or proof of identity card including NSW photo card (with appropriate security features, showing date of issue by an Authority and is current or expired up to 2 years)

Secondary proof of identity:

  • Current Medicare card
  • Current credit card or account card (with signature and embossed name from a bank, building society or credit union)
  • Current student identity document (with photo and/or signature issued by and educational institution)
  • Current Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs concession card
  • Australian issued security guard or crowd controller licence (with photo)
  • Australian issued firearm licence (with photo)
  • Current consular photograph identity card issued by Department of Foreign Affairs and trade
  • Current State, Territory or Commonwealth Government employee photo identity card
  • Australian Defence Force photo identity card (excluding civilians)
  • ACT Services Access card issued by the ACT Government (for asylum seekers)
  • Current working with vulnerable people card

Duration: Does not expire.

New South Wales

ID: The NSW Photo ID Card

Issued by Service NSW is a voluntary card for people who do not hold a current NSW driver’s licence. It may be used to help access a number of everyday services such as sending or receiving international mail, opening bank accounts and entering licensed premises. While there is usually an administration fee associated with this card, cards are issued to eligible pensioners free of charge. To find out more about the NSW Photo Card or to obtain an application, visit your nearest Service NSW centre.


ID Requirements

Visit RMS at

Duration: 5 or 10 years

Northern Territory

ID: NT Evidence of Age Card

This card is evidence of your age and is available to any Northern Territory resident aged 18 and over. If you change your name or want a new photo you will need to apply for a new card. When changing your name or photo, you must surrender your old card to the motor vehicle registry (MVR) or a police station, and you must provide evidence of name change documents. If you are a concession card holder, you are eligible for a free evidence of age card every five years.

Duration: 5 years

Application for evidence of age card (191.6 kb)


ID: The Adult Proof of Age Card

Provides proof of age for Queenslanders aged 18 years or older. This is an ideal form of photo identification for people who don’t hold a driver’s licence or passport.

To apply for the card you must:

  • Be at least 17 years and 11 months of age
  • Complete the adult proof of age card application (F4772)
  • Provide evidence of identity

You will need to present 3 original evidence of identity documents:

  • 1 Category A document + 2 Category B documents, or
  • 2 Category A documents + 1 Category B document

Duration: 10 years
Cost: $66.65

South Australia

ID: Proof of Age Card

The Proof of Age card is often used by people with vision impairments as an alternative form of identification to a driver’s license. This can also be used for legal and financial documents. It is used to verify that the person seeking to enter a licensed premises or purchase liquor is over 18 years of age. This card is recognised throughout Australia. To apply for the Proof of Age card:

Phone: 13 10 84

You will need to provide at least three documents that verify your identity, age, signature and residential address. If you have a photographic learner’s permit or licence you may not need to supply full evidence of identity. A payment is required with the application.

Duration: Does not expire
Cost: $22


ID: Tasmanian Government Personal Information Card

This card is a form of identification that can be used by people of all ages to provide evidence of their identity and age. To apply for a Personal Information Card:

  • Complete the Tasmanian Government Personal Information Card application form
  • Present your application form together with your original evidence of identity documents in person at a Service Tasmania Shop
  • Complete and sign the declaration on page 2 of the application form, in the presence of a Service Tasmania Customer Service Officer (or parent / guardian to sign if the applicant is under 18 years of age)
  • Have your photo taken and pay the application fee

The Personal Information Card application form provides additional information, including the acceptable types identification required to submit your application. Once your application and payment have been lodged at a Service Tasmania shop, you can expect to receive your Personal Information Card within ten business days.

Access the Tasmanian Government Personal Information Card application form

Duration: 5 years
Cost: $28


ID: Proof of Age Card

The Victorian Proof of Age card is used to verify that the person seeking to enter the licensed premises or purchase liquor is over 18 years of age. This card is recognised throughout Australia. Any person who has reached the age of 17 years and 11 months can apply, however you must wait until you are 18 to use it.

The form can be collected from any VicRoads office or by contacting Victoria Liquor and Gaming on 1300 182 457 and request an application form be mailed to you. Take the completed form and your original proof of identity documents (one from Category A and one from Category B) to someone who has known you for a minimum of 12 months and who is listed on the electoral roll. This person must complete and sign the ‘Referee’s declaration’.

Please note that original documents are required for sighting, photocopies are unacceptable. If you have changed your name (either through marriage or otherwise) you must also provide documents as evidence of this change.

Category A documents:

  • Full Australian birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Naturalisation certificate
  • Immigration papers
  • Citizen papers

Category B documents:

  • Driver’s licence or learner permit
  • Security card
  • Credit card or bank passbook
  • Medicare card
  • Shooters licence
  • Student identification card

Duration: Does not expire
Cost: $10

Western Australia

ID: WA Photo Card

A photo card provides anyone aged 16 years or over with a recognised form of personal identity, primarily for use in accessing licensed premises in Western Australia. Find out how to obtain a photo card, or order a replacement. The photo card is a voluntary card to assist people who do not hold a driver’s licence or passport in conveniently proving their identity. It is available to people 16 years and older who normally reside in WA. Cardholders have the option of including their address on the card and can choose to have two cards, one showing their address and one without it.

Photo cards have the same level of security as a driver’s licence and display the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Signature
  • Address (optional)

A combination of 5 original identity documents must be presented to verify your full name, date of birth and residential address. Further information can be obtained at:

Duration: 5 years
Cost: Pensioner $21.60

Acceptable forms of ID in Australia

Primary Identification Documents

The highest category of identity documents that often act as primary validation of identity include:

  • Australian passport
  • Australian citizenship certificate
  • Overseas passport
  • Australian birth certificate
  • Australia driver’s licence
  • Overseas driver’s licence
  • Australian Document of Identity
  • Australian Certificate of Identity
  • Australian Convention Travel Document
  • Medicare card
  • Australian state and territory issued identity photo cards
  • Australia Post Key Pass identity card

Secondary Identification Documents

Other documents generally used to enhance an identity check along with primary documents, or used for specific purposes include:

  • Concession card
  • Australian Seniors Card
  • Australian Marriage Certificate (for change of name)
  • Australian Change of Name Certificate (for change of name)
  • Utility bill – a telephone, water, electricity or gas bill
  • Rates notice – a notice of rates issued by an Australian municipal council
  • An Australian education institution identification card
  • A letter of enrolment from an Australian school or education institution
  • An Australian bank issued plastic debit or credit card
  • An Australian bank statement
  • Motor vehicle registration papers issued in Australia

Welcome To Blind Citizens Australia

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

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.

Whether you are blind, have a vision impairment , a family member or friend of a person who is blind or vision impaired, BCA is here to assist you.

We provide information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services. Our Branches act as local lobby groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members.

Explore our site. Learn about us. Listen to SoundAbout for profiles of people who are blind or vision impaired and those working with our community. If you are interested in audio-described TV, cinema and DVD content check out It’s Our Turn. Set your dial and tune in to our weekly radio program New Horizons. For the issues and policies that affect you, plus useful information and tips, turn to the pages of BC News or Parent News.

Contact BCA:

Toll Free:
1800 033 660

03 9654 1400

0488 824 623

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

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