Blind Citizens Australia is the national representative organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired. Its purpose is to achieve equity for people who are blind or vision impaired, so that they can live their lives in any way they choose, in a place that respects, recognises and responds to their uniqueness and diversity.
BCA achieves its purpose by:
a) informing, connecting and empowering people who are blind or vision impaired and the wider community,
b) representing and advocating for the interests of people who are blind or vision impaired,
c) providing high quality support, services, projects and events, and
d) increasing access, awareness, and expectations across the broader community.
BCA does not operate outside Australia or fund activities overseas. Any activities overseas will be directly related to our purposes.
BCA’s objective is to encourage self-organisation and self-determination by people who are blind or vision impaired throughout Australia, and to unite them through membership in a national organisation.
Our organisation works to provide high quality support, services, projects and events and increase access, awareness, and expectations within the broader community.
This work includes delivering targeted individual and systemic advocacy, which involves giving people who are blind or vision impaired the tools and confidence to advocate for themselves.
We also work to create and deliver effective campaigns and projects that raise awareness of barriers to the participation of people who are blind or vision impaired in Australian society, including employment, education, audio description, voting and banking.
We continue to raise awareness of our work to grow our reputation as a leading advocacy organisation and credible source of information for people who are blind or vision impaired.
BCA’s vision, purpose, values and goals are expressed in our Strategic Plan.
Blind Citizens Australia was formed in June 1975. In an era marked by civil rights protests and movements dedicated to social change, people who were blind decided to raise their voices about the issues affecting them. Their actions stemmed from a growing dissatisfaction with their limited social and economic opportunities, a reality exacerbated by a lack of quality services.
More than four decades on, BCA is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired. Membership is now more than 3,000, with members from every State and Territory across Australia.
BCA is a member organisation led by an elected board of volunteers who are blind or vision impaired and a team of paid staff.
BCA’s membership is made up of:
a) Full Members: people who are blind or vision impaired over the age of 18 years who live in Australia;
b) Associate Members: people who identify with the aims of BCA, but who are ineligible to be full members;
c) Junior Members: people who meet the requirements of clause (a) but who are under 18 years of age.
To become a BCA member, you can sign up online or phone us on 1800 033 660.
BCA has a broad mix of funding sources which includes project-based government funding (state and federal), philanthropic foundations, regular donations, corporate partnerships and memberships.
The Jeffrey Blyth Foundation
BCA is also generously supported by the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1995 through two contributions from David Blyth and Hugh Jeffrey. Its purpose was to create a capital base from which the work and independence of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) could be supported. Since then,
the capital has grown and has been supplemented by other contributions.
In 2017, The Association of Blind Citizens of NSW contributed around $2.4 million to the Foundation. This was done on the condition that a sub-fund to be known as the Shirley Fund be created, and that proceeds from that fund be distributed to the work of The Association, or its successors in NSW and the ACT, or to projects which would advance people who were blind or vision impaired in NSW or the ACT.
The Foundation therefore has two funds:
- The General fund which may be spent throughout Australia, and which has been ordinarily used for grants to BCA; and
- the Shirley fund which may be spent in grants to BCA, which has now merged with the Association, or for other similar purposes, but only in NSW or the ACT.
As a Public Ancillary fund the Foundation is legally required to distribute at least 4 percent of its net worth each year. Donations can be made directly to the Foundation by contacting BCA on 1800 033 660.
BCA has a proud and strong history of disability leadership, with all the directors on our board comprising people who are blind or vision impaired. As a disability-led organisation, our work is directly informed by lived experience.
We have also developed programs that build the skills and capacity of leaders who are blind or vision impaired through training, mentoring, and support.
Some of our prominent leaders have gone on to serve in prominent capacities both in Australia and internationally, having worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission, World Blind Union, International Disability Alliance, and more.
At least twenty BCA leaders have served (or are serving) on the boards of major blindness service agencies.
We continue to provide opportunities to develop the capacity, skills and confidence of staff, members, leaders and potential leaders.
BCA also celebrates the noteworthy contributions individuals have made to the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired by presenting awards such as the David Blyth Award, Dianna Braun Aspirations Award, and BCA Certificates of Appreciation.