In celebration of NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) week, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) have recognised national Indigenous Paralympians with the unveiling of new plaques on the Indigenous Paralympian honour board at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, in Sydney, on 6 July.
The celebration acknowledged the exceptional achievements of the two Indigenous athletes who represented Australia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, cyclist Amanda Reid and track and field athlete Torita Blake. It also honoured 1972 Paralympian Ray Barrett, whose Indigenous heritage was recently rediscovered through the APC’s Paralympic History Project.
The APC initially unveiled the Indigenous Paralympian honour board, recognising 11 athletes dating back to Kevin Coombs at the first Paralympic Games in 1960, at the NCIE (National Centre of Indigenous Excellence) in December 2015.
APC Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said the work of the APC to continually celebrate the achievements of Australia’s Paralympians is important to upholding values of diversity and inclusion in sport.
“Today’s ceremony was a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements of two Rio Paralympians, Torita Blake and Amanda Reid, and the legacy of Ray Barrett, a bronze medallist from the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games, whose Indigenous heritage was not known by the APC when we launched this initiative back in 2015,” she said.
“To be joined by Amanda and relatives of Ray today was a privilege for the APC in an important week which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s Indigenous community.
“The aspiration of the Paralympic movement is to build a more inclusive society for people with a disability through Para sport. We know that through sport, Para athletes challenge stereotypes and transform attitudes.”
Australia’s Indigenous Paralympians formally recognised include:
• Kevin Coombs OAM
• Peter Kirby
• Warren Lawton OAM
• Tracy Barrell OAM
• Karl Feifar OAM
• Donna Burns OAM
• Ben Austin OAM
• Tahlia Rotumah
• Kayla Clarke
• Amanda Reid
• Torita Isaac
• Ray Barrett
Full story can be found on the Australian Paralympic Committee’s website.