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
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

(03) 9654 1400

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

Donate to Blind Citizens Australia by using the PayPal button below

Blind Citizens Australia – President Election

Notice to Members

From Greg Madson, BCA President and Company Secretary

Dear BCA Member,

I am writing to advise that due to a need to focus on employment opportunities, I find myself in a position of having to reduce my current volunteer commitments. In regard to this, I have regretfully decided to stand down as President of Blind Citizens Australia. My resignation will take effect from the close of the 2015 National Convention.

As a result of this decision an election for the position of BCA President is required. As I will not be a candidate, I will continue as Company Secretary and manage the election process.

In accordance with the provisions of Clause 21.1.4 of the BCA Constitution, in a year where there will be elections for both the President and for other Directors, the election for the President must be held first, with the appointment announced in the Notice of the Annual General Meeting.

In order to meet the election timeframe outlined in the Constitution, including the provision for sixty days notice of the Annual General Meeting, the election for the President must be held forthwith.

Call for Nominations for President of Blind Citizens Australia

The term of office for the BCA President is three years. A position description is available from the National Office on request.

People wishing to nominate for the position of BCA President are required to complete and sign a nomination form. To obtain a nomination form, contact the National Office. or please download BCA President Nomination Form

Valid nomination forms must include a nominator and seconder who are Full Members of BCA as at 30 June 2014. Please contact the Company Secretary to discuss alternative methods of submitting a valid nomination form.

All nominations should be accompanied by a written statement in support of the nomination (in print or braille) by, or on behalf of the nominee.

This should also be submitted to the Company Secretary in electronic form. Nominee’s statements should be no longer than 500 words.

Nominations for BCA President must reach the Company Secretary at the National Office by 5.00pm (EST) 3 July 2015.

Ballot Papers

Only Full Members of Blind Citizens Australia as at 30 June 2014 may cast a postal vote. All full members will be sent ballot papers along with the details of all nominees and their supporting statements by Friday 17 July 2015. Completed ballot papers must be returned to the Company Secretary at the National Office no later than Friday 31 July 2015. Any ballot papers received after this date will be invalid.

In the event of there being only one nominee for the position of President, or if no nominations are received, no ballot papers will be sent out. The Company Secretary will declare the results of the poll in the Notice for the Annual General Meeting which you will receive in mid August 2015.

Greg Madson
President and Company Secretary

BCA National Office contact details are:
Blind Citizens Australia
Ross House
Level 3, 247–251 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9654 1400
Toll free number: 1800 033 660

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.

A Step in the Right Direction for Federal Funding

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


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

BCA Member Forum Expression of Interest

A new initiative of Blind Citizens Australia’s National Policy and Development Council (NPDC) is to hold bi monthly ‘member forums’ via teleconference. These forums will be structured around specific topics eg: Employment, Audio Description, Travel etc.

If you are interested in registering your interest to attend these forums, please leave your details using the form provided on Members Forum Expression of Interest