People with disability will be able to access the equipment required to participate in para-sport, thanks to the Sport Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee’s (APC) new funding initiative.
The $1.3 million APC Para-Sport Equipment Fund will enable eligible participants and carers to seek funding for hire and purchase of equipment such as sporting wheelchairs, prosthetics, hand cycles and adapted or modified seating.
Three-time Paralympic gold medallist and APC Board Member Kurt Fearnley attended the launch of the initiative last week and highlights the difficulties often faced by athletes with disability.
“For some people with disabilities, just getting to the starting line can be a barrier and so the Para-Sport Equipment Fund will build on opportunities and inclusiveness in Australian sport,” he says.
“Sport Australia and the APC are in the business of lifelong physical activity for Australians and this right here is another step in the right direction to make sure all of our community have access to something I love - something that changed my world.”
He is encouraging everyone in the disability community to spread the word about the fund, labelling it an opportunity to “dream big”.
“Honestly, it’s incredible,” Australian paralympic athlete and two-time gold medallist Madison de Rozario says.
“This is something that we’ve been pushing for so long. The biggest barrier to para-sport is the cost of equipment.”
The fund coincides well with Sport Australia’s Move it Aus campaign which launched this year encouraging more Australians to get involved in sport and physical activity.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sport Australia, Kate Palmer says both organisations share the common goal of increasing the number of people with disability participating in sport at all levels.
“The whole nation has already buoyed by outstanding role models such as Kurt Fearnley and Madison de Rozario and we’re pleased that initiatives like the APC Equipment Fund will help continue to grow sport and physical activity across the disability community,” she says.
“Some days just make you so proud to be CEO of Sport Australia. This [is] about ensuring that ALL Australians have an opportunity to move it.”
CEO of APC, Lynne Anderson hopes the fund will encourage people with disability to get involved in sport and overcome barriers, such as the cost and availability of equipment.
“The cost and sustainability of equipment can be problematic, whether that’s for our emerging elite athletes or those who simply want to have a go for the first time,” she says.
“The APC has a great track record of assisting athletes to identify the right equipment and capitalise on their abilities and skills, but this fund will expand on that and be of great benefit across all para-sport.”
The APC will continue looking for additional revenue opportunities through corporate sponsorships, donations, partnerships and more.
Applications for the Para-Sport Equipment Fund can be found here.