There have been mixed responses locally to the Olympic and Paralympic Games planned for Brisbane in 2023, but most would probably agree that while there are risks, there are also opportunities.

Last week, the Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) released its Summary Report from a Visioning Forum held in June 2022. The report outlines the vision informed by Queenslanders with disability for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Dr Sharon Boyce has been appointed as QDN’s Deputy Chair to the 2032 Games Legacy Committee to represent the voice of Queenslanders with disability and was involved in the forum. With Dr Boyce, two former Paralympians, Geoff Trappett and Karni Liddell, set the scene at the forum for creating inclusive and accessible games with a positive legacy for Queenslanders with disability.

A list of dot points detailing the QDN Vision for Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics 2032.
QDN Vision for Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics 2032

Opportunities and Risks

Opportunities identified at the forum for people with disability included:

  • More accessible, affordable housing;
  • Improved accessible, affordable and integrated transport;
  • Infrastructure and built environment that enables people to move around well in their communities;
  • Inclusive and accessible tourism that encourages and enables people with disability to participate as athletes in the games but also delivers an ongoing legacy for all visitors to Queensland and positions our state as the most accessible/inclusive destination of choice for tourism into the future;
  • Growing the next generation of athletes to compete in the games;
  • Health and well-being outcomes to improve our quality of life;
  • Employment and volunteering opportunities;
  • Inclusive practices around the procurement of services, products, and infrastructure that starts with accessibility and inclusion principles;
  • Disability inclusive arts and culture.

Des Ryan OAM, QDN Board Chair, said Australians have endless opportunities.

“We are used to stepping up to what is asked, what is needed and thinking of each other: as Queenslanders that is what we do. When we all come together nothing is impossible and that has been shown time and time again. Brisbane 2032 is no different; it’s our once in a generation chance to get things right and leave a legacy of inclusiveness and accessibility for all that puts our great city on the map across the world, with no one being left behind.”

Mr Ryan said the key opportunities will create a legacy for all, with Queensland being the most accessible and inclusive destination to live in and visit.

“The benefits of the Games should be seen by all in the wider community”.

Nevertheless, he said there are risks if we don’t take every Queenslander on this journey, and people are left behind.

“We welcome the recent announcement from the Queensland Government of selecting a group of twelve Queenslanders to the Olympic Legacy. It is a sign that we are going in the right direction. This committee is reflective of the diversity of this great state.”

“The Games will be the biggest single transformational event Queensland is likely to see and we hope to work with key stakeholders to make sure we are not going to waste this golden opportunity.”

“QDN was proud that one of our Board Members and Deputy Chair, Dr Sharon Boyce was selected to be on this committee.”

Affordable Housing

The Queensland Council for Social Services, QShelter and others have raised concerns about the loss of affordable housing and have identified housing, homelessness and economic participation as an essential legacy to work towards from the games.

“QDN as a member led advocate organisation works to lead and influence change and we will continue to work with stakeholder organisations, including QCOSS and other key stakeholders to make sure that accessible, affordable housing is fundamental to the overall success of the games and its legacy. This can be achieved if it is made a priority, and we need to learn from other host cities and the work they put into this area. Now is the time to start this work,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport, Stirling Hinchliffe, opened the QDN forum, and the Queensland Government and relevant ministers have been sent a copy of the report.

“We hope to hold conversations shortly to co-design and work together on the key areas that we identified. With people with disability being selected to the committee of 12 we are confident this will happen.”

The Games and people living with disability

For Queenslanders with disability, accessibility and inclusion must be at the forefront, Mr Ryan said.

“It will mean more opportunity for employment, competition as an athlete, for volunteers, spectators and greater accessibility to be able to move around and enjoy what Brisbane and Queensland has to offer. People with disability know this is an important opportunity to influence change and want to be involved in making it happen.”

Building the broader community’s understanding of disability

Mr Ryan said QDN wants people to be aware of where we have come from as a community and what needs to be done to make society more inclusive and accessible for people with disability.

“We want them to understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get things right and that as a community we can all work together to achieve this.”

“We would like the wider community to be aware of accessibility and inclusion issues on a day to day basis. Simple acts of not parking your e-scooter in the middle of the path to demanding more accessible transport – we all have a role to play.”

Mr Ryan said accessibility and inclusion shouldn’t be an ‘add on’; it should be the standard.

“People with disability know the issues and have the answers. The wider community can question an organisation’s co-design process or actions for any new products or services they provide. This will help people with disability have a voice and impact new services, infrastructure, and products in our local community.”

“You know as a society that inclusion and accessibility has happened when we don’t have to talk about it.”

QDN says we all have an important role in bringing this vision to life with the Games only ten years away and a lot of work to be done.

“That work starts now!”

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Cover image, Shutterstock.