A new funding initiative to help support athletes with the costs of specialised equipment has been announced in Sydney today by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and Sport Australia.
The high costs of equipment used in Paralympic sport is leading to higher injury risks, reported an APC survey conducted with the Victoria University.
The research suggests that a total of 45 per cent of surveyed participants found additional sport injury risks in Para-sport due to poor or limited choice of appropriate equipment.
The AUD$1 million (£556,000/$721,000/€639,000) injection from Sport Australia will form the basis of a larger funding initiative with the APC hoping to generate more revenue form sponsors.
Corporate sponsorship and donations as well as equipment partners may form the rest of the funding drive.
Eligible applicants can apply for funds to help acquire sport-specific wheelchairs, prosthetics, adapted or modified seating and handcycles.
The APC Para-Sport Equipment Fund will not only benefit elite athletes but also those wanting to participate in grassroots Para-sport with loan opportunities, it is claimed.
"Sport Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee share the common aim of increasing the number of people with a disability participating in sport at all levels," Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer said.
#NEWS: Community sport, newcomers to disability sport and emerging Para-athletes are all set to benefit from a new funding initiative announced today by @sportaustralia & the APC. More at:https://t.co/zHLcC9h4VN pic.twitter.com/3jZr74AvpA— AUS Paralympic Team (@AUSParalympics) November 14, 2018
Palmer added: "The whole nation has already been buoyed by outstanding role models such as Kurt Fearnley and Madison de Rozario, and we’re pleased that initiatives like the APC Equipment Fund will help continue to grow sport and physical activity across the disability community."
Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Fearnley was present at the launch of the fund in Sydney and praised the opportunity for people with disabilities to get involved with sport.
"For some people with disabilities, just getting to the starting line can be a barrier and so the Para-Sport Equipment Fund will build on opportunities and inclusiveness in Australian sport," Fearnley, an APC Board Member, said.
"I’m appealing to everyone in the disability community, from cities to small county towns, and across all age groups, to spread the message about this great opportunity to get active and dream big."
The partnership was also welcomed by APC chief executive Lynne Anderson as a way to ease the financial burden of getting involved with Para-sport.
"The cost and suitability of equipment can be problematic, whether that’s for our emerging elite athletes or those who simply want to have a go for the first time," she said.
"The APC has a great track record of assisting athletes to identify the right equipment and capitalise on their abilities and skills, but this Fund will expand on that and be of great benefit across all Para-sport."