News from our National Women’s Branch

By Janene Sadhu, NWB President

It was really good that three NWB committee members, Joyce Jones, Anne Jackson and myself, could be present at the recent BCA Convention in Hobart, and what a successful event this was! We caught up with many women’s branch members there.

The highlight for our branch was presenting the Diana Braun Aspirations Award to Robyn Bousie, a very worthy recipient from Melbourne. Robyn was not at the Convention but was live on the phone to respond to the speech I made announcing her as our award winner for 2019. For those who don’t know Robyn, she is a foundational member of BCA and worked as a librarian until her retirement from paid work in 2018. She is an elite sportswoman, has coached an Australian Goalball team and is an Australian Hall of Fame inductee for her services to goalball.

To say that Robyn is a community minded person is an understatement: she is a prolific fundraiser, undertakes roles on sporting and recreation bodies, provides opportunities for people to take a short break away by accompanying them as the sole person with some sight on trips, and is a board member of her local church.

Robyn is often the first to put up her hand for tasks requiring a volunteer. These have included taking a roving mic to an audience member, helping someone with less sight than she has get a meal or coffee, selling raffle tickets, and generally assisting people to get where they need to go at many BCA Conventions. Robyn’s hobbies include dancing, keeping fit at the gym, travelling and contributing to organisations where she feels she can make a difference.

It’s fitting to say that Robyn has known Diana Braun for many years and was one of the people Diana confided in when her health started to fail. Robyn was presented with her award certificate, decorated by artist and NWB member Katrina Taylor, in May in Melbourne. Congratulations Robyn!

Our Womentalks teleconferences continue in 2019 with an honest discussion about the practical and psychological effects of vision loss as a woman on the evening of Thursday 30 May. For further information, please email nwb@bca.org.au or leave a message for me (Janene) with the BCA office and someone from our committee will get in touch with you.   

Finally, members of our branch were very sad to learn of the deaths of three outstanding women in recent months:

Diana Braun

Diana will be remembered as a trailblazer – her career saw her writing children’s programmes at the ABC, recommending reading material for people at Shirley House and sourcing unique products for a gift shop which she operated from her home. Diana was one of the Sydney-based founding members of BCA’s National Women’s Branch and served as President of the branch for several terms. She was a talented writer, leader, mentor, presenter of magazines and radio programmes, cook, and craftswoman, where her beautiful homespun wool was lovingly knitted up to create exquisite works of art.

All who knew Diana will remember her friendship, encouragement, willingness to share valuable advice, practicality, sense of fun and love of life. Diana died after a long illness.

Lori Grosvenor

Lori served as a BCA Board member and was an active member of BCA’s Canberra and Newcastle branches. She was a tireless advocate for people with disability of all ages, with her most recent work concentrating on redressing inconsistencies and gaps in Government support for people in need of basic services.

Lori was the recipient of the Diana Braun Aspirations Award in 2015, and more recently played a leadership role in the “My Aged Scare” campaign.  Her wonderful legacy to fight to make life more equitable for older Australians who have a disability will live on through her friend and advocacy consultant Lauren Henley.

Vicki Alipasinopoulos

Vicki was an active member of our NWB committee until fairly recently when ill health prevented her continuing her work for us. Vicki was responsible for communicating with branch members, and was our project leader and contact person for violence against women activities.

She played a major role in editing the Winter 2018 edition of Aspirations, and was always available to offer friendship and sound advice to those she knew. Throughout her career, Vicki assisted many people through her work as Case Manager and Referrals Officer at Vision Australia, and she volunteered for several other organisations. Vicki was 39 when she died at home after struggling with major health issues for some time.

Our Women’s Branch sends our condolences to the families and friends of Diana, Lori and Vicki, and may these three much loved women Rest in Peace.

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