eing an athlete is a dream for many, however for people with a disability, this dream is not always possible.
In an interview with Disability and Sport Recreation CEO, Richard Amon, he shared the everyday challenges and exclusion people with a disability face.
“We need to realise that for people with a disability, they have to overcome so many obstacles to be able to live what we consider an ordinary life,” Amon said.
Amon believes there are not enough sporting programs which are relatable and accessible for people with a disability.
“Australian Sports Commission did some research and they found that 83% of people with a disability who are inactive, want to be active, but feel that they can’t,” he said
However, it is not just the lack support, which needs to be addressed.
Societies attitudes towards disabilities is limiting the opportunities available.
“People understand that is fair for people with a disability to have fair and equal access, but they don’t have the skills or capabilities to create a welcoming environment.
“So that position is almost then that is ‘too hard, they’re going to say the wrong thing, I’ll do nothing instead, it’s all just too hard’,” Amon said.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a national scheme which aids those with a disability in all aspects of life.
However, in recent years, the NDIS has been implementing support to help those with a disability participate in sports and recreation and live the best life possible.
“The NDIS has been fabulous to help fund some of those barriers”
They have been overwhelmed with people wanting to engage in sporting activities, however, there is not enough sporting programs to cater for them.
“In the early years it was more about your basic living requirements, what supports do you need at your accommodation to make it more accessible and general health needs.
“As people get that under control then they starting to realise, well hang on what if I want to play sport with one of my friends or want to join a gym or learn rock climbing, all sorts of aspirations that people have.
“So now what we are finding with the NDIS is as that as people are getting into their next level of plans, they are starting to demand some support that allows them to play sport and rec.
“This is going to help people led there best life possible, that is what the NDIS is aspiring people to do,” Amon said.
Amon comments on how catering for people with a disability is more than just giving someone a program but looking at the broad spectrum of how to support them, such as organising transport and support for carers.
“we’ve got this mountain that’s coming over the hill in future years of people who are going to want to play sport or recreation.
“That then raises the big question, whats the capacity of the sector to serve that?
“That’s one of the bigger issues that’s going to come up in future years?
“It needs to happen, there is a massive demand for it to happen, it’s starting to happen, but if you don’t have the delivery of a well versed and educated sector then it’s all just going to fall in a big heap,” He commented.
Training of sporting staff on how to communicate and carter for people with disabilities in non-competitive sports, such as local sporting centres, is crucial to ensuring people with a disability have equal access to sport.
“We are looking over the whole environment trying to facilitate change in what needs to happen to make the process easier, not only for people with a disability, but for their parents, the carers, also the people who work in sport, how do they get the skill and capabilities to be able to work effectively in this space,” Amon said.
Events like the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Festival highlight’ how important it is to make sport more inclusive for everyone.
The event takes place at the Crown Riverwalk from 10 am to 2 pm on December 3 and will provide the opportunity for people with a disability to discover new sports, as well as educating people on how to make sport and recreation more accessible.
“Our vision is a Victoria where there is better choice and access for people with disability who want to meaningfully engage with sport and active recreation,”
Despite living in a modern world, more progress needs to be made to ensure sport is accessible to all.