Thinktank to increase disability access to sport, recreation and tourism

Paralympion Madison de Rozario addresses the audience at Griffith's Inclusivity in Play Pitch Festival

In an Australian first initiative, Griffith convened close to 100 experts from a variety of sectors, knowledge backgrounds and experiences to co-create solutions that will increase participation and access to sport, recreation and tourism for Queenslanders with disability. 

The Inclusivity in Play Pitch Festival was opened by Gold Coast Kombumerri Salt Water man, Uncle John Graham, who reminded the participants about the centuries old innovations developed by the traditional custodians of the area. 

Georgia Munro-Cook, Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy, Melanie Farmer, Dwayne Fernandes

The event was the result of two months’ hard work by nine teams consisting of people with disability, participants from community and government organisations, academics, journalists, Paralympians, access consultants and care providers. 

With sport and recreation in mind, the teams brainstormed and researched issues of exclusion and inaccessibility faced by people with disability, then conceptualised and pitched novel ideas to address and promote social and active lifestyles for all Queenslanders. 

Having captained Australia’s Paralympic basketball team at Tokyo 2020, Griffith Research Fellow Dr Georgia Munro-Cook contributed a deep understanding about issues surrounding access and inclusion in sport. 

“Systemic problems can’t be solved by individuals alone and that’s why bringing a broad range of people together in this workshop series was so exciting and such a valuable experience,” Dr Munro-Cook said 

Professor Elizabeth Kendall, Sharon Hunneybell and Andrew Sly listening to the innovative ideas delivered on stage.

“During the workshop we brainstormed issues from all angles and perspectives, and we worked together to develop our ideas into solutions for practical use.” 

Inclusive Futures: Reimagining Disability Beacon Director Professor Elizabeth Kendall said the ideas generated by the groups are innovative and show real potential for implementation into our communities to transform people’s lives. 

“Harnessing the experience and expertise of such a broad range of people, especially those who live with disability every day, is integral to solving these challenges,” Professor Kendall said. 

The solutions included devices to help planning trips to the Gold Coast, feedback about experiences while on holiday, assistive devices and practical supports to use on our beautiful beaches, parks and tracks, and innovative ideas to increase participation and sport leadership by women, non-binary and First Nations people with disability. 

Professor Simone Fullagar who leads the Griffith Inclusive Play program said they were looking forward to developing these ideas further in 2023 and beyond. 

Madison de Rozario and Simone Fullagar on stage at the Inclusivity in Play Pitch Festival.

“I’m so excited by the success of this event and the Gold Coast could easily become one of the most accessible and inclusive cities in the world for sport and recreation if these ideas come to fruition,” Professor Fullagar said. 

“This work is so important right now, especially with the potential to influence and contribute to the Olympics and Paralympic 2032 Legacy Plan.” 

Paralympic gold medalist and Griffith Business School graduate Madison de Rozario judged the pitches together with Deputy Director-General of Sport and Recreation and Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport, Andrew Sly, and CEO of the Gold Coast Innovation Hub Sharon Hunneybell. 

“Sport and physical activity are important ways to belong to society, so these solutions are very important to our future as an authentically inclusive accessible country and we can’t wait to see the next step as these ideas develop,” Ms de Rozario said. 

Upcoming workshops will focus on the themes Live, Work and Education. 

To find out more or collaborate with Griffith Inclusive Futures please visit [email protected] and stay up to date with activity on Twitter and LinkedIn.