Few historical accounts of Australian sport policy have explicitly profiled the federal government’s involvement in disability sport. In this paper, we draw on the concept of ableism as a lens to address this lacuna. In doing so, we profile the history of the Commonwealth government involvement in disability sport and explore how the policy of ‘mainstreaming’ has emerged through partnerships led by the Australian Paralympic Committee with National Sporting Originations (NSOs) and government. We highlight that whilst these changes have arguably made mainstream NSOs more aware of their legal obligations and have led to positive changes in the provision of opportunities for people with a disability through the development of ‘Paralympic pathways’, there is some evidence of potential caveats of ‘mainstreaming’. Specifically, we point to an emerging body of evidence which suggests that despite these policy measures, people with disabilities still report being marginalized and excluded from ‘mainstream’ sporting programmes. Therefore, we question if less governmental leadership is the right path given the limitations of the present policy framework. Additionally, we highlight how performance-based funding mechanisms such as ‘Winning Edge’ are narrowing who is eligible for funding and thus curtailing finite resources for only the most ‘abled’ of the disabled.
- Australian Paralympic Committee
- disability sport
- sport policy