Blind Citizens NSW Makes Historic Decision

At a Special General Meeting held in Sydney on Saturday 2 December, the members of Blind Citizens NSW (BCNSW) voted in favour of the two resolutions required to consolidate BCNSW into BCA. BCA has congratulated members of BCNSW on this historic decision which will ensure that people who are blind or vision impaired in NSW and the ACT benefit from 150 years of collective advocacy experience, whilst retaining the strong, local community connectedness which has been central to the success of BCNSW for over a century. BCNSW members also spoke in support of the consolidation, both in terms of the benefits to people who are blind or vision impaired and the consolidation of limited resources to reduce duplication and maximise the impact for members across the state.

Graeme Innes was appointed as President of the interim BCNSW Management Committee with responsibility for winding up the organisation and transferring BCNSW operations and assets to BCA. Graeme indicated that members of BCNSW would have their membership transferred to BCA but that they could opt out if they did not wish to become BCA members.

BCA President, John Simpson, welcomed BCNSW staff to the BCA team and said that a top priority would be to transfer their employment to BCA. A NSW state division has now been created by the BCA board. When the board meets in Melbourne next weekend it will appoint the NSW state division committee which will join with key stakeholders for a planning day in mid February.


Audio Description on Australian Television: Options Survey

BCA has spent a lot of time campaigning for a permanent audio description service on Australian television in 2017. We’ve had a few wins along the way, and We’re getting closer to reaching our final goal. We’re now working with the government to decide how audio description should be delivered on an ongoing basis.

Please take the time to complete our survey to tell us what you think. Your feedback will help us advocate for a solution that meets the needs of the broader population of people who are blind or vision impaired.



Recognised for our social impact

Recognised for our social impact

BCA was recently recognised for our advocacy work in the HESTA Community Sector Awards. BCA was one of five organisations to be selected as finalists in the social impact category. While we did not win the award, being a finalist is a significant achievement. CEO Emma Bennison proudly accepted a trophy on behalf of the organisation at the awards dinner on 24 October.

Caption: Image of a trophy in the shape of a star, with the following inscription: “HESTA Awards, Community Sector. Social Impact 2017 Finalist, Blind Citizens Australia”.


MEDIA RELEASE: CBA to become our most disability-friendly bank, unless you’re blind

Blind Citizens Australia congratulates the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on making its facilities more accessible for people with disability, and releasing its access and Inclusion plan 2017-2020. But we strongly criticise the CBA for rolling out over 75,000 devices to retail outlets that blind people cannot use independently.

The Commonwealth Bank is the only Australian bank to have released an EFTPOS device which has a touchscreen, but no telephone style keypad. The CBA has stated publicly that as of April this year, 75,000 of these devices are being used by retailers in the Australian market, with more being rolled out each week.

“You can’t aspire to be the most accessible bank in the country while continuing to create thousands of retail outlets which exclude people who are blind or vision impaired,” said Emma Bennison, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia.

“You may have a great Smartphone banking app, and talking ATMs, but until your Albert EFTPOS machine can be used quickly and independently by people such as me who cannot see the touchscreen, you have not achieved access to your services for all Australians.”

The lack of a tactile, physical keypad on a machine, which has inadequate and inaccessible speech output, means that a person who cannot see the screen cannot independently complete their transaction.

“People who are blind are being asked to divulge their pin number to a retail staff member to make a payment. This is totally unacceptable, no doubt breaches the terms of their credit card agreement and is probably against the law. I cannot complete transactions which other Australians make ten or twenty times a day.” Ms Bennison said.

“We have raised this issue with the bank, and they are engaging with us. But in the mean-time, our members are finding that each week, many more shops and restaurants in their local communities are no longer accessible to them. This exclusion of thousands of people who are blind or vision impaired is simply unacceptable conduct from one of our largest corporate citizens.”

Blind Citizens Australia has requested the bank to stop the rollout until the machines are able to be used by all, and has encouraged other financial institutions not to go down the same path of exclusion.

Media contact: Emma Bennison
Ph: 0410 553383

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) Media for Immediate Release, 23 December 2014

‘Disability Peaks Forced to Close Doors on People with Disability’ said Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and spokesperson for the disability peaks.

Ten peak organisations run by people with disability will be left with no choice but to either close their doors or reduce services, with seven organisations subject to drastic funding cuts by outgoing Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews.

Together the disability peak bodies represent over 90% of Australians with disability and 83% of the identified disability groups in Australia. The organisations have over 200,000 supporters, including 140 organisations, consumer groups, service providers and carer associations.

“Organisations with over 200 combined years of expertise will be forced to shut their doors in three months time – leaving people who are blind, deaf, hearing impaired, people with intellectual disability, people with brain injury, people with autism and people with physical disabilities with no voice and no specialist representation”, said spokesperson Mr Matthew Wright.

“This expertise cannot be replicated. Once it’s lost, it’s lost. Our organisations have actively engaged in the Government’s workforce agenda, however this decision leaves our 200,000 constituents with a disability and their 140 supportive organisations out in the cold.

We believe that this decision, which reflects a misunderstanding of people with disability, will have significant ramifications on the ability of the Government to successfully implement reform for people with disability, including changes to income support and real efforts to increase economic participation.

Without specific representation, people with disability will be vulnerable to adverse outcomes in these areas and more.

This morning we requested an urgent meeting with incoming Minister Scott Morrison to discuss the decision before the voice of people with disability is irreversibly impacted”, said Mr Wright.

Consumer organisations that have been defunded or not funded to represent the specialist voice of people with disability under Department of Social Services contracts include:

  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
  • Blind Citizens Australia
  • Brain Injury Australia
  • Deaf Australia
  • Deafness Forum of Australia
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • National Council on Intellectual Disability
  • Physical Disability Australia
  • Short Statured People of Australia

Please direct all enquiries to Mr Matthew Wright on 0428 608 861.

Cheryl Gration
Personal Assistant to Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Level 2, 247 Flinders Lane, Melb 3000
T: 03 9662 3324 M: 0419 119 066
E: Cheryl Gration email
W: afdo website

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, the primary national voice to Government representing the interests of people with disability in Australia.