Are You On Board For Change?

Dylan Alcott is a much-loved Australian sportsman. A pro tennis player born and raised in inner city Melbourne and when he’s not training for international tournaments he’s a DJ on the ABC youth alterative radio station Triple J.

Last month, Alcott claimed his fourth straight quad wheelchair singles title at the Australian Open. His triumph was monumental, defeating top-seeded American David Wagner, and like any gripping Grand Slam final, the audience at Rod Laver Arena were perched on the edge of their seats, privileged to witness pure class tennis from the Aussie sports icon.

An elated Dylan Alcott after winning the men's singles final at the 2018 Australian Open Two Tennis Greats: Dylan Alcott alongside Roger Federer at the 2018 Australian Open

As much as winning the title in the final remains a highlight for Alcott, it was what happened on Friday night (semi-final) that was arguably more significant.

In a rare and perhaps shock moment for Australian sports broadcasting, Alcott’s singles match against fellow Aussie Heath Davidson was broadcast live on Channel Seven after the sudden end to the Federer-Chung semi-final.

“I remember when I was a little kid I used to ask my parents and brother why I never saw anyone like me on TV," Alcott said in a post-match interview.

“Kids today won't have to ask that. That means the absolute world to me."

Alcott relishes in the spotlight but what means more to him is changing the perception of how people with disabilities are perceived.

"I used to get bullied as a kid. I struggled with the fact that I was in a wheelchair," Alcott said.

"But if you ask me right now if I could have an operation or stem-cell research, there's not enough money you could ever pay me because my disability has given me part of my opportunity in life. I'm proud to be disabled."

It’s fair to say Alcott's accolades in tennis are on par with the work he does spreading his legacy of inclusion in sport.

Vicsport, in partnership with the State Government have complied a suite of digital resources for sporting organisations to educate their members about the importance of creating a sporting club that’s welcoming of people with disabilities.

The campaign titled Are You On Board? takes a look at how organisations can implement strategies and policies to enhance their approach to welcoming people with impairments.

Over one million people in Victoria have a disability and only 58% participate in regular physical activity and from that, only 27% engage in sport related activity*. This is an indication that organisations need to implement strategies on how to better understand and engage people with disabilities.

In a series of videos and podcasts, we ask the question “Are you on board for change?”, prompting the viewer to think about how their organisation welcomes people with impairments.

Join us for the launch of the Are You On Board? videos along with the Minister for Disability, Martin Foley on Friday 16 February at MSAC. The event is free from 11:30-1pm and light refreshments will be provided.

To register, click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

** Photos courtesy of Dylan Alcott's social media accounts

*Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Victoria, 2015

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