Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability will be encouraged to be more active with the help of a government funding boost.
The $130,000 boost from the Turnbull Government to the Australian Paralympic Committee will enable a two-year project to help improve the health and wellbeing of indigenous Australians.
Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM says the project will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability reach their full potential.
“Among our people, rates of disability can be up to 70 percent higher than the general population. This program will use sport and physical activity to break down health and social engagement barriers, which can be critical for wellbeing and dignity.”
Inactivity associated with disability makes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions and cancer.
The funding will deliver community engagement and awareness events, research, education and online resources, following consultation with health, disability, education and sporting organisations that work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The Australian Paralympic Committee is ideally placed to deliver this program, with its track record of helping Australians with disabilities to get involved in sport,” Mr Wyatt says.
“The positive impact physical activity can have on our general wellbeing is well documented and it is crucial we work towards ensuring there is an equal opportunity for all Australians to participate.”
Australian Paralympic Committee’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lynne Anderson expects their partnership on this movement will “make an enduring impact.”
“Working with our partners, including Outback Academy Australia and Red Dust Heelers, we’re really excited to connect with more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with a disability and share the countless benefits that come with participating in Para-sport and engaging with our wonderful Paralympic athletes,” she says.
Mrs Anderson believes the APC is uniquely positioned to encourage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with a disability to participate in Para-sport.
“Not only do we have the experience and proven expertise to successfully deliver disability sports-based programs and education resources, but there is no better movement than the Paralympic Movement to challenge perceptions and celebrate diversity.”
June Riemer, Deputy CEO of First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) commends the initiative and hopes it will remove barriers and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, as well as setting realistic program goals and targets.
She also says a long-term approach to indigenous disability health is needed.
“The Government should invest in a long-term strategic approach that is adequately funded. FPDN is a member of Close the Gap campaign and the Redfern Statement Coalition and we support the calls for policy change and community controlled initiatives to deliver meaningful change for coming generations,” Ms Riemer says.
“It is also vital to engage local cultural navigators and to create appropriate resources in language or provide translators when required.”
For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au.