Blind Citizens Australia Appoints New Executive Officer

22 June 2015

Blind Citizens Australia’s position as the united voice of blind and vision-impaired Australians has been secured through the appointment of Leah van Poppel as its new Executive Officer. Leah is well-known to BCA members and across the blindness sector as a former Policy Officer with BCA and through her current role with the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).

Leah brings significant strategic development and policy skills along with her personal experience of vision-impairment to the role. The board is delighted to have the opportunity to work with her to grow our organisation.

The board also takes this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and sincerely thank Tony Iezzi for his extraordinary work as Operations Manager over the past five months.

Tony has tirelessly and passionately steered BCA through a period of significant challenge. Without his management expertise and his willingness to take on the role at short notice, our organisation would have floundered. We wish Tony all the very best for the future.

Tony will continue in his role until the end of August. Leah will commence on 3 August.

The board also wishes to acknowledge the support of Brooker Consulting and the work of the recruitment subcommittee throughout the recruitment process.

Greg Madson
President
Blind Citizens Australia

Media contact: Emma Bennison, 0410 553 383
 

Welcome to Blind Citizens Australia

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

Our mission is to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs.

Whether you are blind, have a vision impairment yourself, or are the family member or friend of a person who is blind or vision impaired, BCA is here to assist you. We provide information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services. Our Branches act as local lobby groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members.

Explore our site. Learn about us. Listen to SoundAbout for profiles of people who are blind or vision impaired and those working with our community. If you are interested in audio-described TV, cinema and DVD content check out It’s Our Turn. Set your dial and tune in to our weekly radio program New Horizons. For the issues and policies that affect you, plus useful information and tips, turn to the pages of BC News or Parent News.

Welcome to BCA, the national organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired.

contact BCA:

Toll Free:
1800 033 660

Phone:
(03) 9654 1400

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

Donate to Blind Citizens Australia by using the PayPal button below




BCA 2015 National Convention

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the representative body for Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

This year’s theme is “Looking Forward Looking Back” Celebrating Blind Citizens Australia.

Event details
Date: Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 October 2015

Starting with a Welcome function hosted by Blind Citizens WA on Friday 9th October evening.

Venue: Mercure Perth Hotel
10 Irwin Street, Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 9326 7000
Email Mercure Perth
Mercure Perth website

Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #BCACONV and on Twitter @au_BCA

Visit the BCA 2015 National Convention webpage for more information.

Media Release: Audio Description: ABC sued for unlawful discrimination

Blind Citizens Australia Media Release
7 July 2015

Suzanne Hudson, who is blind, has today launched a case of unlawful discrimination against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for their failure to provide audio description as part of their regular programming – a service that would make ABC TV accessible for the 350,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) will represent Ms Hudson in her case, which will be heard in the Federal Circuit Court.

Audio description is a second audio track that can be turned on and off. It describes the important visual elements of a television program – such as actions, scene changes, gestures and facial expressions – that a person who is blind or has low vision can’t see.

Ms Hudson believes that by failing to make its television broadcasting service accessible for people who are blind or have low vision, the ABC has engaged in indirect discrimination.

‘Australia is dragging its feet in providing an audio description service that would provide inclusion of people who are blind or have low vision into the TV watching community. Many countries, including New Zealand, the UK, US, Ireland, Germany and Spain, already provide the service on free-to-air or subscription services,’ said Blind Citizens Australia President, Mr Greg Madson.

‘By comparison, 20% of the UK Channel 4’s programs offer audio description, which works out at more than 33 hours per week.

‘In fact, people who are blind or have low vision can watch Home and Away with audio description in the UK but not in Australia.

“Members of Blind Citizens Australia were bitterly disappointed when the ABC decided not to introduce an audio described service following a successful trial of audio described service on free to air ABC TV in 2012.” said Mr Madson.

‘While a decision earlier this year by the ABC to trial audio-described content via iView is a step forward, there remain significant barriers to many people accessing the online service, especially for those who rely on screen-reading software, and for those who struggle with an extra layer of complexity to simply watch a TV show.

‘With a 2012 successful audio description trial by the ABC in 2012, and the technology and accessible content available Blind Citizens Australia urges the ABC to take this important, permanent step towards equality.’

The case follows the lodgment of discrimination complaints against Channels Seven, Nine, Ten SBS and Foxtel in the Australian Human Rights Commission in February.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Greg Madson
President
Blind Citizens Australia
0408 396 333

New Horizons Program 406

This week on program 406 of New Horizons, Steve Richardson speaks with Emma Bennison, a Director of Blind Citizens Australia, who has just launched a new music album.

You can use the embedded audio player above to listen or download the program.

New Horizons is available as a podcast! Using your pod catcher of choice, use the search term “Blind Citizens Australia”, you should then be able to subscribe to the New Horizons program.

New Horizons is Blind Citizens Australia’s weekly radio program. It can be heard on RPH and community radio stations throughout Australia. Go here for Broadcast times and stations

Current and past Episodes of New Horizons can also be found on the Blind Citizens Australia audio page

And on the The Global Voice

New Horizons is produced at the studios of Vision Australia Radio in Melbourne. Blind Citizens Australia thanks Vision Australia for their technical Support and for the use of their resources. You can visit Vision Australia on the web at Vision Australia website

A Step in the Right Direction for Federal Funding

An update from Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).

STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ON FEDERAL FUNDING

Matthew Wright, AFDO CEO

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) has secured a $600,000 funding commitment from the Federal Government to work with ten national organisations representing people with disability and their families.

The funding will allow AFDO to identify practical solutions that can support people with disability to access information, peer support and best practice specific to their condition and build the capacity and self-sustainability of people with disability organisations.

AFDO CEO Matthew Wright said the Federal Department of Social Services funding was a “step in the right direction”.

“This is a welcome announcement which will enable specialist people with disability, representative and family organisations to keep their doors open this year and to continue to provide important support to over 200,000 Australians with disability. However there is still work to be done to secure our future” said Mr Wright.

“This is a step in the right direction and reflects an understanding that specialist people with disability, representative and family organisations play a valuable role in supporting the community and building an NDIS.

“I am very pleased with what our ten organisations have achieved working collaboratively to ensure that every person with a disability has a voice.”

“Two national organisations, through AFDO, will receive Federal funding for the very first time, including Down Syndrome Australia and Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia. Mental Health Australia will also receive funding to build the capacity of mental health consumer and carer voices.”

CEO of Down Syndrome Australia Ruth Webber said it was the first time ever that Down Syndrome Australia had been funded by the Federal Government.

“We welcome the recognition of the important role we play for the Australian Down syndrome community and the support we provide to over 4000 people with Down syndrome and their families. This funding enables us to develop additional resources to support new parents and to provide information to adults with Down syndrome about the opportunities the NDIS can bring to make more informed choices,” Ms Webber said.

Our organisations look forward to working collaboratively with the Federal Government.

“We would like to thank Minister Fifield and the Department of Social Services for this important step forward. We will work collaboratively with DSS to ensure we build the capacity of our organisations as the NDIS commences full roll out,” said Mr Wright.

“AFDO and our ten people with disability, representative and family organisations would like to publicly acknowledge the significant support we have received from departmental staff, advisors, ministers, people with disability, carers and service organisations and the media. I have been overwhelmed with the support we have received, reflecting the value that Australians place on the importance and contribution of people with disability broadly.”

The My Aged Care Gateway

Information that may be relevant for BCA members who are over the age of 65 years.

The My Aged Care Gateway

This is the equivalent system of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for people aged over 65 years.

The My Aged Care website has been established by the Australian Government to help you navigate the aged care system. My Aged Care is part of the Australian Government’s changes to the aged care system which have been designed to give people more choice, more control and easier access to a full range of aged care services.

My Aged Care Gateway Website

My Aged Care is made up of this website and a contact centre. Together they can provide you with information on aged care for yourself, a family member, friend or someone you’re caring for. You can call the My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422 between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays. The My Aged Care contact centre is closed on Sundays and national public holidays.

You can expect our staff to be polite, helpful and knowledgeable and to provide:

^ prompt, reliable and confidential services.
^ clear information, which can be made available:
^ in languages other than English if you speak another language and need an interpreter Service
^ help to find Government-funded aged care services.
^ prompt resolution of any complaint or concern you have with My Aged Care.
^ in other formats if you have hearing difficulties or a vision impairment

People who are deaf or who have a hearing or speech impairment can contact My Aged Care through the National Relay Service in two easy steps:
Step 1: Visit the National Relay Service website to choose your preferred access point.
Step 2: Ask for My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

Aged care changes from 1 July 2014
Aged care changes

New Horizons Program 405

This week on program 405 of New Horizons, Rikki Chaplin speaks with Bruce Maguire regarding a book about the early history of the Blind Association (now the Association of Blind Citizens of NSW), which Bruce has transcribed from the original braille into electronic and other formats.

You can use the embedded audio player above to listen or download the program.

New Horizons is available as a podcast! Using your pod catcher of choice, use the search term “Blind Citizens Australia”, you should then be able to subscribe to the New Horizons program.

New Horizons is Blind Citizens Australia’s weekly radio program. It can be heard on RPH and community radio stations throughout Australia. Go here for Broadcast times and stations

Current and past Episodes of New Horizons can also be found on the Blind Citizens Australia audio page

And on the The Global Voice

New Horizons is produced at the studios of Vision Australia Radio in Melbourne. Blind Citizens Australia thanks Vision Australia for their technical Support and for the use of their resources. You can visit Vision Australia on the web at Vision Australia website