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Paralympics Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to establish a program to help hundreds of aspiring Paralympians meet the costs of sporting equipment and travel to competitions.

The Local Para Champions program, announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) on Thursday, will provide grants of up to $1,000 to approximately 900 people aged between 12 and 24 in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Paralympic Games, helping to ease some of the biggest impediments to sporting participation by people with a disability.

Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said the program would play an important role in increasing participation rates.

“We know that people with an impairment who want to play sport often face significant financial burdens associated with purchasing adaptive or customised equipment and organising suitable travel arrangements to get to competitions. The Local Para Champions program recognises and helps to address the issue,” Anderson said.

“I thank the Federal Government, particularly Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck, for providing this support, which will not only increase access to sport for hundreds of people with a disability, but also potentially kick-start the careers of future Paralympians.”

The program complements Paralympics Australia’s successful Para-sport Equipment Fund, which has provided around a million dollars in grants since 2019 to successful applicants and is primarily aimed at entry participation level.

Also announced in the Government’s MYEFO on Thursday was confirmation that the medal rewards introduced during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games earlier this year would be extended to include the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, which starts on March 4.

“… The Morrison Government is ensuring the efforts of our Paralympians to bring victory and glory to Australia at the coming Beijing Winter Paralympics are rewarded,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Australia’s Tokyo Paralympians shared in $1 million in one-off medal bonuses from the Australian Government in recognition of the 13 gold, 23 silver and 24 bronze medal haul from the delayed event held earlier this year.

“We will also extend this one-off bonus to each Paralympic athlete who wins a medal at the upcoming Beijing Winter Paralympics recognising the extraordinary efforts these athletes go to particularly with the impact of the global pandemic.”

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 17 December 2021

Photo: Cassandra Hannagan