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The Australian Paralympic movement’s unmatched potential to unite, inspire and drive social change will be fully mobilised under a comprehensive and bold strategy announced by Paralympics Australia in Sydney on Wednesday.

The release of the Strategy for Australian Paralympic Sport to Brisbane and Beyond by the nation’s preeminent sporting organisation for people with a disability signals the start of a new era in Paralympic sport, seizing the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the Brisbane 2032 Paralympic and Olympic Games.

The Strategy outlines how Paralympics Australia will lead the delivery of a fair and sustainable sporting system that facilitates world’s-best athletic performance and creates clear and available sport participation pathways for the 4.3 million Australians who live with a disability.

Crucially, the Strategy finally addresses the injustices that emerged from the Sydney 2000 Games – which provided greater financial security for the Australian Olympic Committee and left the Paralympic movement struggling for survival – and re-models Paralympic sport’s revenue structure by explaining its unique return-on-investment for all Australians.

“We are confident we will achieve these goals because this is much more than just a strategy about sport,” Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said.

“This is a blueprint for harnessing the power of the Paralympic movement to make Australia a better place. It explains how in the years leading up to Brisbane 2032 we will unleash the full potential of Paralympic athletes, the Para-sport system and Paralympics Australia to deliver benefits that no other sporting environment or organisation can.

“It’s a model for upending stereotypes and discrimination and driving previously unthinkable outcomes through health, education, employment and infrastructure. It clearly explains why investment in Para-sport pathways makes good economic sense. Perhaps above all, this is a strategy that is deep-rooted in the Australian value of a fair go – for everyone.”

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Paralympics Australia began its strategic planning process last April. Over the ensuing months it drew from the knowledge, experience and ideas of 190 contributors, including athletes, National Sporting Organisations, State Institutes and Academies of Sport, Government agencies and corporate partners.

The product was an innovative new structure built around five pillars: sustainability, ecosystem, athletes, fans and social impact. Under each pillar are lists of priorities, initiatives and measures.

“The Paralympic movement holds an exclusive place in Australian sport,” Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Catherine Clark said.

“We are not the Olympics and, with respect, our athletes don’t wish to be Olympians. We’re not a traditional code like the AFL, NRL or cricket. We don’t have weekly ticketing income, rivers of merchandising gold or billion-dollar broadcast deals – yet.

“Instead, we are a deep emotional connection that exists nowhere else on the sporting landscape. We’re a representation of what Australia aspires to be – a nation where people work hard, overcome adversity and make the most of their lives.

“We’re a social movement as much as a sporting movement. We have the capacity to solve problems for governments, boost the reputation of businesses and inspire communities in a truly unique way.

“Our athletes are honest and passionate and each has an incredible story that evokes the best of what it means to be Australian. I believe this strategy does justice to them, the athletes who preceded them, and the millions of people with a disability whose lives could be transformed through the power of sport.

“Our responsibility now is to ensure we create the most successful generation in Australian Paralympic sport and leave a powerful legacy for generations to come.”

O’Callaghan and Clark delivered impassioned addresses at Wednesday’s event at Allianz Stadium to more than 100 guests from Australian sport, politics, business and the media.

Leading Paralympic athletes shared insights and experiences, including Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby captain Chris Bond, swimmer Katja Dedekind and reigning Paralympic champions Madison de Rozario (athletics), Curtis McGrath (canoe) and Rowan Crothers (swimming).

The event concluded with the unveiling of Paralympics Australia’s new brand identity, including a redesigned logo which portrays the story of the organisation as told by First Nations Artist, Uncle Paul Calcott.

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 1 March 2023