Friday 29 May

This is the final week of Giving Tuesdays which BCA has been celebrating during May. In her CEO’s update this week, and in a recent E-mail to members, Emma Bennison thanks members, staff and volunteers who contribute to the work of the organisation. We are extremely grateful for this support and value your contributions immensely.

In this weeks’ update, we cover:

CEO’s Update

Emma is back with her weekly update. You can view it on this website, the BCA Facebook page, or our YouTube channel. Links are posted below:

Blind Citizens News is now available as a Podcast!

If you subscribe to the Blind Citizens Australia podcast channel you may have noticed something extra in your feed this week, the April edition of our magazine, Blind Citizens News. From now on, we will be making each edition of Blind Citizens News available this way, as well as in braille, large print, email, audio CD and through our website. You can listen to the entire edition or, move through the chapters to select and listen to the articles that interest you.

To listen to the podcast edition of Blind Citizens News, you can either:

  • Subscribe to Blind Citizens Australia in your podcast app of choice (we recommend Apple Podcasts for iOS, or Podcast Addict for Android)
  • Address your smart speaker of choice and ask it to “play podcast Blind Citizens Australia”

Improvements to BCA’s Individual Advocacy Process

In the coming months, you may notice a few new processes when you call us.

BCA has grown rapidly in recent years. Our staff team has tripled since 2017, we have had over twenty new members join our organisation within the last month and our income has almost tripled over the past three years. As we grow, we are committed to ensuring that our ways of working remain efficient and effective and that members continue to receive high quality information, advocacy and peer support. As BCA has grown, so too has the demand on our individual advocacy service. We are piloting a new process to ensure we can meet increased demand while ensuring the service is fair and equitable.

Our individual advocacy will continue to be available to all people who are blind or vision impaired whether or not they are a BCA member. When you call BCA for assistance with an advocacy issue, the staff member who answers the phone will collect the required personal details, and a brief overview of your concern.  You will then be referred to a member of the advocacy team, and an appointment will be booked in for you with one of our advocacy officers, (generally Martin Stewart or Rikki Chaplin).  The appointment will occur within 2 business days for up to one hour in length. After the initial appointment, email and phone conversations can continue as needed.  As always, when your case is resolved, you will receive an email or other confirmation that no further action is required, and with an opportunity for you to provide feedback.

This new approach will take some getting used to for all of us and we thank you for your patience. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, please contact Angela Jaeschke. Contact details are included at the end of the update.

New Member Welcome Forums

Have you recently joined BCA, or are you looking for a bit more information about what we do? Come along to one of our New Member Welcome Forums; they’re a great way to meet other new members, learn more about our work, ask any questions you might have and hear about how you can get involved in what we do.

There are two forums being held:

  • Monday, 8th June at 1:00pm AEST
  • Wednesday, 10th June at 7:30pm AEST

Both forums will be held virtually, so you can connect using your computer, tablet or smartphone or, dial in from your landline.

To register for one of our New Member Welcome Forums, simply call or email the office. Our contact details are included at the end of the update.

Happy Hour Schedule

In many ways, life is beginning to ‘go back to normal’. As restrictions begin to ease, some of us are starting to make our way back out into our communities and take up much loved activities once again. As a result, we’re starting to see some changes in the demand for our Happy Hours. We’re hearing from so many of you that you really enjoy them and would like us to keep running them, and we’d really appreciate your feedback on what you might like them to look like in the future. Please join us to talk more about this on Tuesday, 2nd June or, share your thoughts directly with BCA, our contact details are at the end of the update.

  • Saturday, 30th May 8:00pm – Put your thinking cap on – this week’s games night is brain teasers…
  • Monday, 1st June 2020 – Losing your sight later in life presents its own range of challenges and experiences – join us to discuss this important issue, we’ll also be celebrating Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.
  • Tuesday, 2nd June 7:30pm – Next Steps – join us as we reflect on the past few months and discuss what’s changed at BCA, what you’d like to see change and where we can go from here
  • Wednesday, 3rd June 11:00am – Are you an Air Fryer lover? Or thinking of giving one a go? Come along to find out how they’re working for other members and what they’re cooking in them.
  • Thursday, 4th June 7:30pm – Do you like to laugh? Join Anna Briggs as she talks comedy with Peter Rickards. Bring along an entertaining story to share with the group.
  • Friday, 5th June 11:00am – Celebrate World Environmental Day with a discussion about all things green; reducing single use plastics, managing food waste, recycling, upcycling and anything else you want to discuss.

How to Join in

  • If you are on a computer, laptop or tablet you can click on this link:
  • If you are on a smart phone, you can tap on this number: +61370182005,,291084578#
  • If you are on a landline, you can dial 02 8015 6011 and enter the code: 291 084 578

#BeThatPerson Campaign

Last week, we shared with you our exciting partnership with The Kindness Pandemic and our #BeThatPerson campaign which encourages members of the community to be aware of those who are blind or vision impaired and offer assistance if someone is looking unsure. It also encourages people to use Alt Text or include an image description when posting images on social media to make them accessible to everyone,

If you’ve had an experience with someone in the community who has chosen to #BeThatPerson, we’d love to hear about it

You can post it on The Kindness Pandemic Facebook Page or, share the story on your own page or twitter and use the campaign handle #BeThatPerson. Otherwise, get in touch with us directly and tell us all about it.

Tasmania Branch Catch Up

The Tasmania branch of BCA continues to meet every Saturday morning at 11:00 to catch up, provide peer support and mentoring, tips and tricks for people who are blind or vision impaired living in Tasmania, and in recent weeks, to reminisce on Assistive Technology from the past, or Tasmania in times gone by.

On Saturday, 6th June, we will be joined by Kary Macliver, Executive Manager for Client Services at VisAbility. We’ll have the chance to learn more about VisAbility’s recovery from Coronavirus, resumption of face to face service offerings etc., and have the chance to hear what the community believes should be in the future roadmap for VisAbility in Tasmania.

If you’re keen to attend, just pick up the phone and dial: (03) 7018 2005, enter Meeting ID: 881 5665 9186 and Password: 002700

If you would rather attend online, simply click:

Talking Telco

The Australian Communications Consumer Advocacy Network (ACCAN) has recently released a series of guides to assist you to navigate getting your home or small business phone, mobile and internet connected, and how to get help if there are problems with your service.

Talking Telco also includes great tips for saving money on your phone and internet service and how to stay safe online.

You can access Talking Telco at this link:

Access 2 Arts at Home

The Access2Arts team has gathered a variety of  Audio Described work from across the globe for you to enjoy online. This is a Social Distancing friendly way to keep you immersed in the magic of the arts whilst we live life a little differently over the next little while.

Enjoy Audio Described film or head on an Audio Described tour of famous landmarks, galleries and artworks without paying a cent or getting up from your couch!

You can access the content through this link:

Getting to Know Naomi Barber!

What is your role at BCA? (tell me more than your title

My title is Project Officer. I am fortunate to be able to work on various projects that BCA has been funded for in the past year. It means we can look at the needs of the community and work to develop skills and empower our members to excel in different areas of their lives. It generally means, meetings, research, chatting to members, getting to know people and then creating and developing programs and activities, delivering some fun events and resources.

How did you come to be in such a role?

I have a background working in community services but was looking for something different to undertake. The role with BCA was something that was varied and allowed for creativity. Before I worked in community services I worked for many years in the music industry, late nights and not a lot of rest meant that I was keen for a new career path before too long. People have asked why did you choose this sector? My answer is that I didn’t, it chose me. When you work in the community you really get a passion for people and it’s just as rewarding working at BCA.

What are some of the things that bring you the most joy?

I am someone who thrives on outcomes. I love learning of people’s progress and achievements. I stayed in my last job for 11 years because I loved seeing the people I worked with transition through their education and employment. Some of the kids I worked with are now in their 30s and would come back to visit my office with their own families and talk to me about their achievements. Food also brings me joy, I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life. I enjoy creating recipes, feeding my family and friends and producing food gifts. I made Quarantine survival boxes for my neighbours which included home-made crackers, dukkah, dips and (not so homemade) cheeses.

What is something everyone should know about you?

I am a mum of 2 boys. They are at the core of everything I do. My life now is about showing them how magical their journey of life can be. I love boxing and running and am fortunate to live in Newcastle which has many beautiful places to run.

Do you have a favourite quote?

The future belongs to the those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. – Eleanor Roosevelt

How to get in touch with us:

You can get in touch with us through the following methods: