While we celebrate our Australian Paralympians for their athletic excellence, they also play an important part in reshaping society’s attitudes towards disability. The Paralympic Games run parallel to the Olympic Games, showcasing unique events on a unique sporting landscape specifically created for people with a disability.
However, for the hosting city, the Olympic Games are much more than a two week sporting event. They are a decade of planning, preparing and building. With the news that Brisbane has won their bid to host the 2032 Games, Queensland will undergo a transformation to become a more active, more connected and more inclusive place.
From the perspective of Paralympics Australia, the Games are an opportunity for a cultural reset across Brisbane and the rest of Australia.
Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan knows that the 2032 Games have the power to facilitate greater inclusion across our nation.
“Over the next decade, as we lead into Brisbane 2032, long term benefits will be realised across Australia, including in employment, skills, education, health and wellbeing outcomes, higher sporting participation rates, and in culture and community connection,” he said.
“We will be guided by a relentless focus on inclusion, diversity and accessibility and we’ll be driven by the Paralympic ideals of determination, equality, inspiration and courage.”
The submission put forward by Paralympics Australia promised to get half-a-million Australians with disability playing sport, stating:
"Of the 4.3 million Australians with a disability, only one in four participates in sport, while 75 per cent want to participate. We will establish community programs to encourage greater awareness and sport participation, with the aim of engaging another 500,000 people with a disability in sport by 2032."
Mr O'Callaghan said that the pitch was “not a projection, but a promise".
Evidence of this is already underway. The Australian Paralympic Education Program has begun rolling out free resources for Australian teachers and students in order to raise awareness of para-sport.
The 2032 Games will not only allow Australia’s elite athletes with a disability compete in their own backyard. More importantly, it will leave a lasting legacy for those in Brisbane and beyond by transforming sport participation, by creating new employment opportunities, by building new accessible facilities and by promoting more inclusive attitudes and communities.