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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton have led a bipartisan show of support for the 2024 Australian Paralympic Team with a stirring official team launch in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra.

Federal Members of Parliament came together to offer their encouragement for the final stretch before the Paris Paralympics, which starts on August 28.

Australian team co-captains, three-time Para-canoe gold medallist Curtis McGrath and soon-to-be seven-time Paralympic wheelchair racer Angie Ballard were among more than 25 Para-athletes from 14 sports in attendance.

Prime Minister Albanese wished the Australian Paralympic Team well, adding: “The impact that you’ll have isn’t just while the race is on, or the tournament or the event, it is ongoing.

“There will be young boys and girls watching you who’ll think to themselves ‘I can do that’. In doing so, you lift not just them up, you lift the entire nation.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said: “Your determination, your sacrifice, your performance has seen you selected to wear the green and gold. … For some of you this is your first Paralympics, others are more seasoned. Regardless, you’ve done everything possible to prepare for the Games and, of course, every Australian backs you.”

Federal Minister for Sport Anika Wells highlighted the government’s announcement last week of a substantial increase in investment in Para-sport.

Minister Wells then added, in relation to co-captain Angie Ballard: “Angie, you put it beautifully almost 10 years ago … when you said ‘I think everybody should have the right to be physically active’.

“It’s a pretty simple message and Angie, as you now head to your seventh Games, we know that there is more to do, but we are determined to make your values a reality.”

Earlier, Paralympics Australia President Alison Creagh addressed the Federal Members.

“The Australian Paralympic Team for Paris 2024 has a mighty challenge ahead,” Ms Creagh said.

“But we know these athletes will arrive in Paris as well prepared as they can possibly be. We also know they will give absolutely everything they have to perform at their very best.

“Yet, winning medals is just one part of the job. For Paralympic athletes, there is a broader context. Paralympic sport has the power to profoundly change lives and to enrich our communities.

“It does this by breaking down stereotypes around disability, confronting discrimination and demonstrating the power of diversity and inclusion. It inspires all Australians – with or without a disability – to apply our best selves to all our endeavours in life.

“In this way, Paralympic sport is not just important for people who live with disability, it has a unique way of speaking to a far wider audience.”

The official launch came a day after Paralympics Australia announced the rowing team for the Paris Games. On Thursday, the equestrian team will be announced, followed by the wheelchair basketball team on Friday and Para-table tennis, wheelchair rugby and athletics early next week.

By David Sygall, Paralympics Australia.

Published 2 July, 2024.