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The future of local and accessible sports and recreation

14 September, 2020

For the August meeting, the Western (Ballarat) Regional Network shared ideas on increasing participation in local community sports and recreation with Sports Central.

Tom is the Project Coordinator at Sports Central, which supports sports clubs across the City of Ballarat, Rural City of Ararat, Hepburn, Pyrenees, Moorabool and Golden Plains Shires.  

He explained to the Network that Regional Sports Victoria has a survey that aims to find: what are the needs of people with disability who would like to engage in community sport and recreation in regional Victoria?

The survey takes approximately 10 mins to complete. There is a survey for individuals with a disability wanting to participate in sport and a separate survey for parents, guardians or support workers of an individual with a disability . The surveys ask about barriers to participating in sports and recreation, what would enable people to participate, and what activities do people want to see or join in their local area.

The survey led the Network to discuss their positive experiences of participating in local activities, as well as the barriers they faced. Barriers included mainstream clubs not knowing how to be inclusive, and support workers not aware of adaptive sports available in the local community.

Within the Central Highlands region, there are also not many wheelchair-friendly activities available for locals. The Network shared different sports they have tried or have heard of, which provided inspiration on the types of sports that the group can participate in the future:

  • Sailability - suits all abilities. Many sailing clubs offer all abilities sailing at local lakes or bays. The boats can be navigated with a hand controlled rudder or a chin-controlled joystick. The boats are weighted so it is not easy to tip over.

  • Table tennis - suits most abilities. Straps are available to secure bat to hand. Participants can play against other players, or against a machine which shoots the balls at different angles. Many clubs have trained coaches who can offer adaptive table tennis.

  • The Ballarat Aquatic Centre has an electronic pool lift and a ramp that goes straight into their multipurpose pool. Many other aquatic centres are also becoming more accessible.

  • Lawn bowling - many clubs now have specialised wheelchair for people to borrow. The wheels are thicker, and the chair is lower to the ground to make it easier to bowl. There are also bowler's arms for use by participants unable to bend lower.

Sailability at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

Sailing at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

ParaGolfer at Ballarat Golf Club

The ParaGolfer at Ballarat Golf Club

  • ParaGolfer - a specialised all -terrain wheelchair that supports the participant to stand to play golf, and mobilise around the golf course. Contact Ballarat Golf Club or your local golf club to ask about their ParaGolfer.

  • Wheelchair rugby - suitable for participants with a physical disability that affects at least three of their limbs.  

  • Wheelchair basketball - suitable for participants with paraplegia. Wheelchair basketball recreational sessions are held at Ballarat's Ken Kay Badminton Stadium.

  • Archery - Wendouree Archery Club have coaches trained in inclusive coaching. They offer Come and Try days for beginners, as well as training to compete in competitions.

  • Shooting - Many clubs can cater to people of different ages and abilities.

  • Tom mentioned there is the possibility of wheelchair AFL with the Western Bulldogs club.

It was an informative meeting as the discussions enabled Tom to gain greater insights on the Network's interests, types of wheelchair-friendly activities, and barriers to participation. The Network agreed that completing the survey was important as the results of the survey will inform the future of local sports and recreation across regional Victoria.

Sports Central is part of the Regional Sports Assembly, which aims to increase community participation in local sports and recreation groups through:

  • Support and advice to clubs

  • Building networks and partnerships

  • Advocating on behalf of community for changes, access funding or adaptive equipment, or to increase accessibility to a facility

  • Supporting locals to find adaptive sports that suits their interests

For information and support, you can find your local Sports Assembly branch here.  

The Network looks forward to working with Tom and Sports Central more to increase access to local sports and recreation.

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