The Federal Opposition will prioritise significant investment in sport for Australians with a disability if elected this Saturday, a pledge applauded by Paralympics Australia.
Support to build pathways for more Para-athletes through talent identification, classification and education will form the foundation of the $6million funding pledge unveiled today in Melbourne.
Shadow Minister for Sport Don Farrell and Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers Carol Brown confirmed the Federal Opposition would commit new funding to Paralympics Australia with a focus to drive:
Improved pathways for a connected disability sport sector;
Expanded talent search opportunities;
Classification education and accreditation;
A Paralympic education program for schools;
Stronger engagement in disability sport for Indigenous Australians;
The management of accredited Paralympic Sports Centres of Excellence;
Senator Farrell said: “This is a commitment we are immensely proud to make because it underlines the value of our Paralympic Team within the broader fabric of Australian sport.”
“This is not just about success at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. This is a package which promises long-term benefits for Australians with a disability who want to compete in sport at all levels.”
Senator Carol Brown said: “Australia has a successful history in sport for people with a disability and it is exciting to provide the opportunity to enhance that success for future generations.”
“Para-sport is experiencing a wave of momentum and we are committed to working with Paralympics Australia and other leading organisations in the disability sport sector to ensure this momentum is converted into long-lasting and meaningful change for Australians who want to compete in disability sport at the level of their choice.”
Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said while the desire to back Australia’s Paralympic athletes is humbling, it comes with great responsibility.
“We are grateful that the Federal Opposition, led by the Honourable Bill Shorten, has recognised the ability of Paralympics Australia to deliver an outstanding return on investment,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“Paralympics Australia has a unique ability to connect the disability sport sector and ensure that the pathway of athletes with elite potential is clearer than ever.
“It is a role we are excited to have the opportunity to develop, in close consultation with our member organisations and our other sporting partners.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said: “While success at the Paralympic Games will always remain our number one priority, a strong disability sport industry at all levels is something our organisation is fiercely committed to securing.”
“We know there are a range of barriers to participation and performance that stand in the way of Australians with a disability, most notably cost and availability of equipment, accessibility to venues, and information on how and where to get involved.
“On top of the valued support we have received and continue to receive from Sport Australia, we believe we are in an exciting position to work with our partners and Government to take Para-sport to the next level.”
By Tim Mannion, Paralympics Australia Media