People with Disability as Leaders

With over 1 million Victorians living with a reported disability there is clear opportunity to increase the number of people with disability active in the sports industry as leaders, employees and volunteers.

Many people with disability already operate as effective leaders in sport settings. The opportunity available is to understand the benefits to your organisation, which include:

  • A better understanding of your target audience because leaders have a lived experience which relates to the community.
  • More effective communications because leaders with disability will understand how people with similar disabilities want to communicate.
  • An understanding of the abilities of potential participants which helps you build on the existing strengths of your local community as you create unique participation opportunities.

Case Study – Molly Urquhart-Moran

Molly is a leader in both performance and administration. She has played for the Pearls – the national Basketball team for females with an intellectual disability – and worked at Basketball Victoria as a Disability Inclusion Assistant. Read more about her story here.

Case study – Maurice Gleeson

Maurice Gleeson OAM is the President of Blind Sports Victoria. For over 20 years his strong and passionate leadership has enabled greater participation in sport and recreation by people who are blind or have a vision impairment. Read more about his story here.

It is important to provide all applicants for paid or volunteer roles with equal opportunities in gaining employment, promotion, training and development.

Key areas to address when recruiting and retaining people with disability include:

  • Position descriptions and essential requirements of the job.
  • Advertising vacancies.
  • The interview.
  • The job offer.
  • Reasonable adjustment.
  • Staff training and development.
  • Mentoring.
  • Career planning.
  • National Disability Services – Disability Employment
  • Leadership Victoria – Disability Leadership Program

For more information on how to approach these steps, read the Office for Disability resource Inclusive Recruitment and Retention Practices (upload PDF resource ‘Inclusive Recruitment and Retention Practices’). If you would like to learn more about your responsibilities as an employer under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, including examples of discrimination in employment, click here to visit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Over 200,000 Victorians with a disability play sport, and many of these people have achieved great things as athletes and administrators. Your organisation can share the stories of people with disability who play sport, at both the local level and elite level. You should consider the specific communities you are targeting. For example, if you are working with wheelchair athletes, think about role models you can promote who have excelled in wheelchair sports. If you are working with people with hearing impairments, try to find a role model with a similar background and share their story. Sport Inclusion Australia is part of the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (INAS) #WeAreSport program which helps raise the profile of female athletes with an intellectual disability so they can be role models for the next generation. Read more here.

Dylan Alcott is an elite tennis player and basketballer and is a Paralympian in both sports. He has become prominent in mainstream media. During this Tedx Talk he speaks about his experience growing up with disability.

Carol Cooke is a prominent cyclist who lives with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Hear more about her story in this podcast:

For more information about disability employment and potential partner organisations, visit: