City signs up to pilot aimed at increasing accessibility and inclusiveness in sport

The City has put its support behind the national Sport4All program, as one of six Victorian LGAs to sign up to the initial pilot in the state.

Sport4All aims to help sporting clubs and schools become more accessible and inclusive to enable people with disability to have choice and control over where and how they would like to participate in sport.

The new program has been commissioned and funded by the Australian Government in collaboration with Sports Australia and is delivered by Get Skilled Access, a Disability Owned Business Enterprise founded by Paralympic Gold Medallist and Grand Slam champion Dylan Alcott.

To support the pilot the City is assisting in the recruitment of a ‘Local Hero’ Disability Inclusion Program Coordinator to assist in the delivery of Sport4All by engaging with local sporting clubs and schools.

The part-time Local Hero role will be offered as a six-month opportunity and will be filled by a person with disability who has been involved in sport as a player, volunteer or administrator.

The person that fills the role will support clubs and schools by bringing their real-life disability experiences and advocating for the importance of people with disability to have choice over how and where they participate in sporting activities.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said this program would help shape a more inclusive community.

When we improve opportunities for members of our community to participate and be included, it creates a stronger community overall.

Participation in this pilot program is in line with one of the key pillars in the proposed Our Community Plan 2021-25, the creation of a healthy, caring and inclusive community and one where everyone has the opportunity to experience their best possible health and wellbeing.

It’s important that people with disability have the same opportunities to participate in sports as everyone else and that they get to choose to devote time to a sport they love and that is convenient and close to home.

Schools and clubs will be able to complete a self-assessment tool to help understand what inclusion areas need focus.

The Sport4All online learning resources will build capabilities specific to clubs or schools and provide practical tools to guide and drive them to be more accessible and inclusive for people with disability to participate in sport.

Cr Anthony Aitken, Chair of the Volunteering and Disability portfolio, said the program is a major coup for Geelong and will shine a national focus on how members of our community with disabilities can be included and participate.

It is exciting and a real privilege to be partnering with Dylan Alcott and his team, probably the highest profile athlete in the world with a disability and of course recently crowned 2021 French Open Winner.

Geelong is the home of the NDIS and the Council has a strategic intent to be the most inclusive community in Australia, this is another major step to supporting that aim.

I congratulate the federal government for its funding towards this project and Dylan for being the driving force behind why everyone should be able to participate in the community sport they choose.

I encourage community members with a disability and the relevant skills and experience in sport to consider applying for this new role and I highly recommend that local sporting clubs and schools consider getting involved with this important pilot program.

Access and Inclusion are two key priority areas in the Council’s Access and Inclusion Action Plan 2018-22 as the City works towards fostering a community with greater inclusive attitudes to all community members in all activities.

Ben Pettingill, Sport4All Project Coordinator at Get Skilled Access, said sport should be for all Australians.

Sport is engrained in Australian culture, participating in sport should not be a privilege only for some depending on ability, it should be every Australian’s right.

This is why Sport4All is so exciting, it will change the way disability and inclusion is viewed in mainstream sport and will result in people with disability like myself as someone who is blind being able to participate in sport when, where and how we choose.

Noah Callan, Get Skilled Access Associate, said the urge to play sport is felt by everyone.

Inclusive sport matters because it should not be a roadblock if you are disabled. The disability community wants the adrenalin rush when playing a sport just like everyone else. The best way for sports to be more inclusive is thinking a bit differently, like having more time for a free kick.

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