People with Disability

Everyone benefits when people with disability participate, and take on leadership roles, in sport.

In Victoria, over 1 million people report living with disability. This represents 1 in every 5 people in the population.

What is disability?

Disability is the result of the interaction between people living with impairments (a medical condition that leads to disability) and barriers in the physical, attitudinal, communication and social environment. For example, it is not the inability to walk that keeps a person from entering a building by themselves, but the stairs that are inaccessible that keeps a wheelchair user from entering that building.

Disability results from the interaction of the social and physical environment with a person’s medical condition or bodily function. A disability is any of the following impairments that affects a person’s ability to undertake everyday activities:

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Intellectual
  • Cognitive
  • Psychiatric

A disability can occur at any time in life, such as acquired when an adult, at birth or suddenly through accident. Some forms of disability are episodic, some are temporary, and others are long lasting. Some disabilities may be obvious while others are hidden. There are already many people with disabilities playing sport, with varying levels of support needed. The kind of adaptation needed to provide sporting opportunists varies greatly. In some cases, programs are modified so that people can participate (i.e. wheelchair basketball/tennis), in other cases only minor – or zero – changes may be needed for someone with disability to participate.

Through the Are You On Board? campaign Vicsport identified that 58% of people with disability in Victoria participate in physical activity, and just 27% participate in sport related activities (up from 18% in 2012).

Therefore, leaders can play a role in bridging the gap and providing accessible, welcoming environments that allow everyone to participate.

In Victoria there are a range of funding streams and organisations which aim to improve the quality of life for people with disability. This includes multiple State Sport & Recreation Bodies dedicated to supporting people with disabilities.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support for many people with disability to access community support services and activities to achieve their individual goals. The NDIS provides support via disability service providers which are non-government organisations that work with both government and non-government partners to support and enhance the lives of people with disability.

Increasing participation in sport by people with disability benefits both the individuals and the organisations. During the State Sporting Association Participation Program, organisations working with people with disability reported some of the following benefits:

  • An increase in overall participation numbers.
  • A positive change in staff towards advocating for and welcoming people with disability.
  • New partnerships benefiting the organisation by providing additional resources and new channels.
  • Stronger connections with clubs and more inclusive grassroots sport environments.

As detailed by this Australian Sport Commission report about people with disability taking part in sport, the benefits of sporting participation to people with disability include:

  • A sense of achievement.
  • Doing something stimulating.
  • Improved health outcomes.
  • Opportunities to socialise with others.
  • Enjoying the company of friends.
  • Increased energy levels.
  • Improved self-esteem.

These benefits are consistent with the benefits that any person can receive by participating in sport and active recreation.

Your Sport Organisation as a Leader People with a Disability as Leaders


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