The Australian Government has committed $56 million in grant funding to help make Australia more inclusive for people with disability. Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) has been announced as a successful provider for projects in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia commencing in the 2018/2019 financial year.
The projects will provide people with disability, their families and carers access to up-to-date and relevant information, and links to services and supports in the community. This includes the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and community and government services.
The Australian Government received a total of 609 applications for the three Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Jurisdictional Based Grant allocations in NSW, ACT & SA. 17 organisations were awarded funding in New South Wales, 55 in the Australian Capital Territory and 32 in South Australia.
With the funding, Blind Citizens Australia will empower people who are blind or vision impaired in the NSW, ACT and SA regions to reach their potential through a range of capacity building activities. These will include a program of teleconferences, mentoring, face-to-face capacity-building opportunities via forums and camps, and assistance with individual advocacy issues.
The projects will be piloted over a 12-month period, with an anticipated engagement reach of at least 800 people who are blind or vision impaired in each region.
“Blindness is an information disability. BCA will ensure people who are blind or vision impaired have access to timely and accurate information about how to advocate for accessible services, strategies for independent living, blindness-specific information and more. BCA is also committed to developing the capacity of people who are blind or vision impaired in these three regions to ensure they are empowered to achieve their potential and to support and mentor others in their local communities to do so,” says Emma Bennison, CEO of Blind Citizens Australia.
“We are also hopeful that this project will attract future funding for additional delivery across the rest of Australia to enable us to increase self-advocacy skills, strengthen peer networks, enhance employment and educational pathways and improve self-confidence for the 453,000 people who are blind or vision impaired throughout Australia.”
BCA was awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission award for Community Organisation of the Year in 2017 due to its successful advocacy work on behalf of people who are blind or vision impaired. BCA is the only disability led organisation within Australia that represents the blind and vision impaired community with 85% of the management, board, volunteers and staff having direct experience of vision loss.