On this page you will find recent and past Blind Citizens Australia submissions to Federal and state governments, Senate Inquiries and to other Government and non Government agencies.
Submission to National Consultation facilitated by Disability Discrimination Commissioner
In 2016, Alastair McEwin was appointed to the role of Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Commissioner McEwin is trying to prioritise the work to be undertaken during his five year term, so he has asked for feedback from people with disability and disability organisations. BCA has prepared a submission to highlight some of the things the Commissioner can do to improve the inclusion and participation of people who are blind or vision impaired.
National Women’s Branch Submission on Violence Against Women
This submission was prepared by the National Women’s Branch on behalf of Blind Citizens Australia, in response to a call for submissions from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. The submission will be considered by the Special Rapporteur in preparation for her visit to Australia later in 2017, and highlights issues specific to violence against women who are blind and vision impaired.
Go here to read the BCA Submission of input on violence against women
Further to this, you can also read BCA’s recommendations arising from the submission
Review of Disability Employment Services Framework
The unemployment rate of people who are blind or vision impaired is still four times the national average, and current approaches to this problem are failing. A survey conducted by Blind Citizens Australia between October 2013 and April 2014 found that only 35 per cent of respondents had been successful in gaining employment through a disability employment service. We believe disability employment services could be achieving far better outcomes for people who are blind or vision impaired and welcome the opportunity to provide feedback to inform the review of the disability employment services framework.
Go here to read the BCA Review of DES Framework Submission (Word doc 91kb)
Aged Care Legislative Review
A robust and responsive aged care system is core to the needs of Australians who are blind or vision impaired. According to Vision 2020 Australia, around 80% of vision loss in Australia is caused by conditions that become more common as people age. This raises a number of implications for Australia’s aging population, with one in every four Australians projected to be 65 years of age or older by the year 2056.
Blind Citizens Australia asserts that older Australians who are blind or vision impaired, when provided with the appropriate support, can continue to lead full and active lives and make valuable contributions to their communities. To this end, we welcome the opportunity to contribute to the review of Aged Care services in Australia and thank the Aged Care Sector Committee for providing us with this opportunity.
Go here to read the BCA Aged Care Legislative Review Submission (Word doc 117kb)
Federal Election Inquiry 2016
Securing a method of casting a secret, independent and verifiable vote for people who are blind or vision impaired has remained at the top of Blind Citizens Australia’s policy agenda for several years. The 2013 Federal Election brought us one step closer to this goal, with the introduction of the Blind and Low Vision Telephone-Assisted Voting Service. Our submission will focus on this component of the 2016 election proceedings, as it is of most relevance to the experience of people who are blind or vision impaired.
Go here to read the BCA Federal Election Inquiry 2016 Submission (Word doc 309kb)
Mobility Allowance Legislative Amendment November 2016
Blind Citizens Australia is pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the amendment to legislation which would see the mobility allowance be transitioned into the NDIS, as part of the support available under that scheme. There are however, some grave concerns that need to be addressed fully, so that the wellbeing of people who are blind or vision impaired who are not eligible for the NDIS will be assured. These changes will affect people with other types of disability who are not eligible for the NDIS in similar ways.
Go here to read the BCA Mobility Allowance Legislative Amendment Submission November 2016 (Word doc 305kb)
NDIS ACT Review
The Australian Government commissioned an independent review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) (NDIS Act), as required under Section 208 of the NDIS Act. In accordance with this legislative requirement, Disability Ministers had agreed that Ernst & Young (EY) conduct the review.
The purpose of the review is to assess the operation of the legislative framework (comprising the NDIS Act and the NDIS Rules) and develop recommendations as to whether any improvements can be made to better support the objectives and principles of the NDIS Act.
The Blind Citizens Australia submission to the discussion paper can be found here: BCA NDIS ACT Review October 2015 (Word doc)
Submission Inquiry into the SA Election 2014
Imagine for a moment that is Election Day. And that you are totally blind. Perhaps you will have already completed a postal vote with the assistance of a friend or family member – a process that has robbed you of dignity and severely compromised the notion of a secret ballot. Or, perhaps you have decided to cast your vote at a polling centre. You aren’t really sure how to get there in the first place and, when finally making it to your destination, you are overwhelmed by the crowds of people that you need to navigate in order to be able to cast your vote.
As this example demonstrates, the electoral process can still be quite complicated for a person who is blind or vision impaired. For this reason, securing a method of casting a secret, independent and verifiable vote for people who are blind or vision impaired remains at the top of Blind Citizens Australia’s policy agenda.
Read BCA’s submission Inquiry into the SA Election 2014
A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes
– August 2014
Work is the cornerstone of social inclusion. It generates wages, less reliance on welfare, dignity, a sense of purpose and productivity. Given the long-term unemployment, or under-employment experienced by many Australians who are blind or vision impaired, Blind Citizens Australia believes that a shift in the current system is necessary to ensure systemic change. These reforms should be underpinned by a sustainable welfare system that is targeted towards those in need and that guarantees that no Australian will be worse off, or left behind as a result of the changes.
Read BCA’s submission to the A New System for Better Employment and
Social Outcomes (Word doc) report
Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Review 2012: Response to the Draft Review Report – July 2014
While access to public transport has improved in a number of ways since
the implementation of the standards in 2002, and the first five year review in 2007, there continue to be a number of barriers preventing people who are blind or vision impaired from enjoying full access to the transport experience. We are also greatly concerned about the lower levels of compliance reported in rural and regional areas and strongly believe that low levels of demand for accessible public transport should not negate the need to provide a service that is universally accessible.
These and other aspects were outlined in the Blind Citizens Australia’s response to the 2012 Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Draft Review Report (Word doc)
Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2013 Federal Election
Blind Citizens Australia developed a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, providing input into the Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2013 Federal Election.
This 2013 Election Inquirey submission (Word doc) focuses primarily on the user experience of electors in relation to the Blind and Vision Impaired Telephone-assisted Voting Service, as well as the desired future pathway for accessible voting in Australia.
2013-2014 Federal Budget
Summary of budget announcements;
Read the summary of budget announcements (Word doc) which are relevant to people who are blind or vision impaired as analysed by Blind Citizens Australia.
Audio Description on Commercial TV
In July 2013, BCA, on behalf of Australians who are blind or vision impaired lodged 21 complaints of disability discrimination against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for their failure to provide content that is fully accessible.
These complaints, lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission, reflect the growing dissatisfaction amongst the blind and vision impaired community, who continue to be excluded from television programming.
Read Blind Citizens Australia’s Accessible TV media release (Word doc)
We also received great media coverage in The Australian – read the article (Word doc).
Keep up to date with our campaigns for audio description on commercial TV, audio description in cinemas and on DVDs, the digital switchover and all things media access.
This includes access to our It’s Our Turn newsletters which provides information on how things progressed.
Australian Dental Association on regarding assistance animals
Read Blind Citizen’s Australia’s recent Australian Dental Association submission (Word doc) on access to treatment rooms for persons accompanied by assistance animals.
This submission aims to address the high level of discrimination that still occurs in dental settings and will help to inform the Australian Dental Association’s revised disability policy.
Blind Citizens Australia Employment Submissions
Blind Citizen’s Australia released a report for the then Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs focusing on the employment of people who are blind or vision impaired.
Inquiry into improving the employment participation of people with disability
Take a look and Read our submission on improving employment participation (Word doc) to the 2013 Inquiry which outlines the barriers experienced by people who are blind or vision impaired in gaining meaningful employment and career progression.
Recommendations of how the Australian government can meet their national and international obligations and practical solutions to improve employment are included in this submission.
Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Review 2012
In March 2013, Blind Citizens Australia held three teleconferences and sought feedback from our members on their public transport experiences over the last five years.
Blind Citizens Australia has prepared the following report for the Department of Infrastructure and Transport which includes the experiences of people who are blind or vision impaired when using public transport services across Australia.
Draft National Standards for Disability Services
Read Blind Citizens Australia’s Draft National Standards for Disability Services submission (Word doc) about the Draft National Standards for Disability Services.
Our 2012 submission includes recommendations for service provider information accessible formats, independent dispute resolution processes, proportional representation of people with disability on boards and mentoring opportunities, in addition to the provision of high quality services.
TGA Medicine Labelling and Packaging Review
Clear, accessible information on medication is important for all consumers. For someone who is blind or vision impaired, that clear, accessible information is critical to ensure that the right medication is being taken at the right dosage
Read BCA’s Medicine Labelling and Packaging Review (Word doc) 2012 submission.
Review into the conduct of the 2010 Federal Election
At the 2010 Australian Federal election accessible voting for people who were blind or vision impared was trialled. After the election a review of how the trial was conducted, and how people who were blind or vision impaired took the opportunity to use the accessible system, was undertaken by a joint standing committee on electoral matters.
Read BCA;s response to JSCEM Review (Word doc) on how the election went.
BCA Submission – DSP Impairment Table Review 2010
Approximately 90% of Blind Citizens Australia members are people who meet the criteria of legal blindness, many of whom receive the Disability Support Pension (Blind) or Age Pension (Blind). This high proportion is due to our membership classification, which until 2006, only permitted Full membership to people who are legally blind, with people who are vision impaired or sighted able to join as Associate members of the organisation. We therefore caution that our comments may not be reflective of the full and varying needs of people experiencing each visual condition.
In preparation for this review, Blind Citizens Australia spoke with a number of orthoptists and professionals who work with people on the cusp of legal blindness or who have vision conditions which impacts on their daily living skills. Agencies included Royal Society for the Blind in South Australia, Centre of Eye Health in NSW (an initiative between Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and University of NSW) and Vision Australia.
this DSP Impairment Table Review (Word doc) submission supplies recommendations on a number of standards and tests which can be used to provide more effective assessments.
- Access to Telecommunications Inquiry (Word doc)
- Consolidation of Anti-Discrimination Law (Word doc)
- Proposed Commissioner for Children and Young People (Word doc)
State Specific Updates
New South Wales Review of the NSW Disability Services Act
Blind Citizens Australia published a submission to inform the 2013 Disability Services Act Review Team regarding the direct experiences of people who are blind or vision impaired and the vision of how to access disability specific and mainstream services that best meet their needs.
Transport for NSW – Draft Disability Action Plan 2012-2017
Read a joint DAP submission (Word doc) prepared by Blind Citizens Australia, Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, with input from the Association of Blind Citizens of NSW.
Our joint submission addresses the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired in relation to the draft Disability Action Plan, including the use of technology, accessible information, taxi access, buses and trains and makes specific comment on the strategies proposed by Transport NSW.
Report on Audible Announcements on Public Transport
Blind Citizens Australia have published a report titled ‘Tell Me Where I Am: Audible Announcements and the experience of people who are blind or vision impaired on Melbourne transport’.
This report provides a snapshot of the frequency of audible announcements on board trains, trams and buses during a two week period in April 2012 and provides a series of recommendations to address and improve current performance.
Submission to the Victorian Government’s Accessible Public Transport Action Plan 2013-2017
Blind Citizens Australia have published a submission to inform the Victorian Government’s Accessible Public Transport Action Plan 2013-2017 regarding the public transport barriers and needs of people who are blind or vision impaired.
VIC – Taxi Industry Inquiry
The Victorian Taxi Inquiry aims to undertake a comprehensive investigation into all aspects of the taxi and hire car industry and recommend a set of reforms to the Victorian government focused on achieving better outcomes for the travelling public, including passengers with disabilities.
And our submission