Building, Back, Better toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities – today we recognise and celebrate people living with disability here in Australia and across the world.

Australia is home to 4.4 million people living with disabilities.  
Almost half of all Victorians are born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.  

This means that many people living with disabilities are from refugee, asylum seeker and migrant backgrounds.  

Like every Australian, people living in this intersection want to belong, contribute and thrive in everyday community life.  We believe sport is a powerful way to achieve this. 

There are many complex barriers that make it more difficult for young people from CaLD backgrounds living with disabilities to participate in community sport.  

The Welcome to the Game Victoria initiative aims to alleviate some of these barriers by improving access to sport and recreation participation for young people from all backgrounds and all abilities.  

Welcome to the Game programs are designed with and for young people who aren’t traditionally supported in mainstream sports settings. This includes but is not limited to young people from diverse backgrounds with diagnosed or undiagnosed disabilities.  

Welcome to the Game Victoria is delivered in partnership with grassroots clubs and sport providers alongside their core programming and involves existing club members and staff as volunteers, coaches and mentors. This gives participants and their families a sense of belonging within their local sporting communities.  

In line with this year’s International Disability Day theme “Building, Back, Better toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.  

We believe every community sports club, particularly those based in areas where people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds live, should offer a Welcome to the Game style program as a first step towards inclusion for these young people. As sport begins its return in Australia, we encourage clubs to look at how they can do things differently and ensure their club is a space where everyone can participate. 

The Welcome to the Game Victoria Community Access Mapping Report is a best practice guide for clubs and community sport providers highlighting where the gaps are in Victoria and how we may improve -> 

We recognise that this vision is far bigger than Welcome to the Game, Welcoming Sport or Welcoming Australia.  

It’s going to take a whole of community effort to achieve this goal. There are some fantastic sporting organisations such as Special Olympics Australia, Disability Sport and Rec Victoria, Paralympics Australia, Reclink and their AAA play initiative and others that are working hard to create more opportunities in this space.  

We highly encourage anyone looking to get involved to check out the AAA play website for some fun online events happening today, and also to join in the DSRV Festival of Disability which takes place next week

We know that more work needs to be done in the broader Australian sporting community at the grassroots level to fully welcome excluded groups including people living with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds and people who live with the intersectionality of these experiences. 

Today on International Day of People with Disabilities we pledge our continued commitment to this journey, we thank and celebrate all those who are on this the journey with us and we encourage you to join us! 

Share this article on your social media today, check out the linked resources above and share your commitment to building a welcoming, inclusive future where all people have equal opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive; both on and off the sporting field.

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