Maryanne Diamond, General Manager Advocacy and Engagement:
Vision Australia calls on the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison to immediately return funding to Blind Citizens Australia (BCA).
BCA is the peak consumer body for people who are blind or have low vision. BCA has been advised by the Abbott Government that its funding will be discontinued at the end of February. This means that staff will lose their jobs and some services will stop.
Without BCA we might live in a society without audible traffic signals, accessible voting, or braille signage.
Now is a hugely important time for people who are blind or have low vision to be led by their own consumer body. The NDIS is being rolled out across the country, the Marrakesh Treaty is being ratified, the campaign for audio description on television continues, new accessible Australian currency is being considered, and unemployment for those with disability remains unacceptably high.
As the leading national provider of services for people who are blind or have low vision, Vision Australia will continue to support BCA, but we can’t do it alone. Government funds are desperately needed to fund their advocacy and support work.
Organisations, like Vision Australia and BCA, who represent specific disability groups, have extensive and specialist knowledge in addressing the needs of their members that cannot, in any similar way, be covered by organisations representing various population groups.
There are more than 350,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision and we need a peak consumer body who will represent us in 2015 and beyond.