National Policy Council Report

By Fiona Woods

The NPC was delighted to launch the Blindness Service Provider Expectations Policy at Convention. The policy clarifies for service users and service providers what we mean when we say, in BCA’s mission statement, that we strive for “high quality and accessible services which meet our needs”.

It sets out our aspirations for entitlement to service, service delivery, product sales, communications and access to information, complaints procedures, fundraising, marketing and publicity, employing people who are blind or vision impaired, governance and leadership and service user representation and advisory bodies. We explained the policy through a dramatic presentation, scripted by Lynne Davis and performed by Lynne, Helen Freris, myself and Steve Richardson, who also provided our musical theme. The policy was later unanimously endorsed by the Convention, through a recommendation, moved by Martin Stewart (Victoria’s NPC representative).

The Board recently approved two of the NPC’s other pieces of work: the Position Statement on Mobility Parking Permits, and the Position Statement and Environmental Scan on Accessible Voting. In both areas, the Statements describe the legislative background in each state and territory. BCA supports the entitlement of blind and vision impaired Australians to a Mobility Parking Permit, should they choose to apply for one. BCA has also clarified the best way of allowing blind and vision impaired citizens a secret, independent and verifiable vote. BCA will work to change the legislation in those states which currently preclude blind and vision impaired Australians from these opportunities for community participation.

All the documents mentioned above are available on this website, or in your preferred format upon request. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments on fionapawoods@gmail.com.

The NPC’s focus is now turning to the provision of healthcare. BCA already has some useful resources and a policy on hospitals, which we intend to expand and update. I chaired a panel on “Life Hacks for Surviving Hospital when you are blind or vision impaired” at Convention, which gave some insight into the issues we commonly experience and some ideas for what a successful hospital stay might look like. Healthcare includes a range of contexts, from medical, allied health, complementary, community to preventative medicine. We will be enunciating some fundamental principles and detailing how they apply in various situations. We are looking for members’ experiences and ideas, so please share your thoughts at npc@bca.org.au.

Your representatives on the NPC have achieved a lot. I thank them for their work and look forward to creating another comprehensive and comprehensible policy. Who knows: perhaps it will culminate in another live performance.

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