2017 National Convention

“From policy to practice: turning words into actions”

About the Convention

We invite you to register for the Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) national convention to be held in Melbourne from 13 to 15 October 2017. Perhaps you’re considering coming to convention for the first time, or maybe you have had a break from BCA for a while and are thinking about whether to come back. Whatever your situation, our national convention is your opportunity to:

  • Hear from fascinating speakers on topics of interest to people who are blind or vision impaired
  • Learn new skills from people who are blind or vision impaired and who understand first-hand what living with vision loss is like.
  • Have your say on what issues you want to see BCA take up in the future.
  • Meet and socialise with new people over dinner and this year, at an audio described film screening.

The Program

We are privileged to have Dr Fred Schroeder, President of the World Blind Union as the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Dr Schroeder is highly regarded in the United States and internationally as a strong and effective advocate for inclusive education and rehabilitation. He has a track record of implementing innovative rehabilitation programs and policies, including as the Commissioner of the rehabilitation services Administration in the US Department of Education. Dr Schroeder has also shown global leadership through his advocacy on the Marrakesh treaty and on the dangers of silent vehicles.

The Convention Program provides details of the convention sessions, as well as a number of associated events. These include:

  • A series of workshops aimed at secondary and tertiary students.
  • The Annual General Meeting, followed by a welcome dinner function on Friday evening.
  • The National Womens Branch AGM.
  • A youth lunch which is open to the young and young at heart.
  • The convention dinner.

We will also be hosting a post-convention film screening of “Defiant Lives” with audio description (4:30-6:00PM). For bookings and event details, visit: https://tickets.demand.film/event/2038, or call the office on 1800 033 660. (Note that the audio description for this film is delivered through an app, so you will need an Apple or Android smart phone to access it). The screening will only go ahead if sufficient tickets are sold, so bookings are essential. Your ticket booking is a ‘reservation’, and you won’t be charged until closer to the screening once it has been confirmed.  

Venue and Getting Around

This year, our National Convention will be held at the Novotel Glen Waverley, 285 Springvale Rd Glen Waverley Victoria. View the hotel’s website here.

Accommodation is available at the Novotel Glen Waverley. Please reserve your accommodation directly with the Novotel (phone 03 8561 2345). When booking, inform the hotel staff of your attendance at the BCA National Convention. This will ensure you receive the discounted tariff of $145 per night. This is a room only rate. The hotel offers breakfast at an additional cost of $33 or there are a number of breakfast options nearby.

Many people (particularly those who have never attended a convention before), worry about how they will navigate in an unfamiliar environment. The venue has been carefully selected with this in mind. All conference rooms are on the ground floor, close to reception and there is easy access to the restaurant and bar. Dog guide toileting facilities are also located very close to the main entrance.

Orientation and mobility instructors will be on hand to assist you on arrival. When you register for convention, you will receive a set of instructions on how to navigate the venue in your preferred format. We are also exploring the possibility of providing indoor navigation instructions via the Blindsquare app for the IPhone. Further information will be provided closer to the date. Finally, volunteers will be available throughout the weekend to offer assistance with orientation as needed.

Buddy Program

We will be offering a “Buddy Program” to assist first time attendees and more recent members to feel more at home during the convention. If you are attending convention for the first time and would like the benefit of a more experienced buddy over the convention weekend, please complete the relevant section of the registration form. Also, if you would like to act as a buddy during the convention, please complete your details on the registration form.

Financial Assistance

We have received some funding in order to support people outside the Melbourne area to attend the convention. This financial assistance would help to cover costs of travel and accommodation, but does not include covering the cost of registration.

If you believe that you would not be able to attend the convention without financial assistance, please tick the relevant box on the registration form. Once you have submitted your form, you will be asked to complete an application form that will assess your eligibility.

Ways to Get Involved

This year’s convention is all about interaction. As usual, the convention will be live-streamed via the internet, so if you can’t attend in person, you will be able to listen from the comfort of your couch. You can interact via social media using the hashtag #bcaconv or send us your questions via text message, (number to be confirmed). Convention highlights will also be broadcast across Australia via the RPH network. This year, there are some new ways to get involved too.

BCA Recommendations

In response to feedback from our members, at this year’s convention, we will reintroduce a forum to enable members to bring forward recommendations for discussion regarding issues which BCA might address. Recommendations can be submitted by individual members or branches. They should be short, easy to understand statements which suggest a particular action that the BCA board could take in relation to issues directly impacting on people who are blind or vision impaired or the functioning of the organisation. For example, recommendations could relate to BCA policy and advocacy work, strengthening engagement with branches, or any other aspect of the organisation’s work.

While we have tried to make the process simple and quick, it is important that you read the recommendations guidelines before submitting your recommendation. Please submit your recommendations via email to bca@bca.org.au or by calling the national office on 1800 033 660. The deadline for submitting recommendations is Friday, 8 September. We look forward to receiving your recommendations and thank you for contributing to the future of BCA.

BCA Conversations

Learning from Each Other Through One on One Information Sharing

The Challenge:

Do you possess a particular skill you would like to show someone? Do you have some helpful information or a practical tip that you would like to share with a small group? Can you do this in 15 minutes or less? If so, we are keen to hear from you!

The aim of this session is to provide one-on-one teaching and learning opportunities by and for convention attendees. These sessions will be run as small groups of no more than four, or one-on-one, depending on the nature of the skill being shared.

If you would like to put forward your skill, practical tip or information sharing idea, or if you have a suggestion for something you would like to learn, please complete the expression of interest form or submit your expression of interest via phone on 1800 033660.

Examples of suggested topics for skill / information sharing:

  • A brief introduction of Mac products and use of VoiceOver
  • I would like to form a new BCA branch – how do I go about this?
  • Tips for keeping up with the latest fashions
  • How does one become involved in a particular recreational activity?
  • What advocacy tips have worked for you?
  • Cooking or cleaning tips

BCA conversations sessions will run across two sessions on the Saturday 14th October. The first from 4-5pm (concurrently with the Blindness and emotional wellbeing session) and the second straight afterward, from 5-6pm (concurrently with the dog guide handlers discussion forum. The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday, 8 September. If your session is accepted, you will be notified by 15 September.

I want to attend one of the BCA Conversations Sessions. What should I do?

If you have registered to attend the entire convention, or for the Saturday only, you will be provided with a list of sessions which you will be able to register for prior to convention. Registration will be on a first come first served basis as there is limited space at the venue for these conversations. There will be volunteers who can assist you from the main convention area to the BCA Conversations session room, where moderators will be present to assist you in locating the session(s) you have registered for.

If a skill you are interested in is not covered during the Information Sharing sessions, BCA will put a call out to its networks after the National Convention to try to locate an individual who is willing and able to meet your skill/information request.

Post-Convention Teleconferences: Let’s continue the conversations!

It is likely that we will receive more skill requests than our allotted session times will allow and more interest in the sessions than we can accommodate during this convention. If we aren’t able to accommodate your skill sharing session idea during Convention weekend, BCA will arrange teleconference sessions to facilitate skill and information sharing with interested parties via phone.

Key Dates

Closing date for convention registrations and requests for financial assistance: 14 September

Closing date for BCA conversations ideas and your recommendations on BCA future priorities: 8 September