Introducing The Phoenix Project: championing accessibility and agency

Updated: Dec 2

Victorians with disability are less physically active (40%) than Victorians without disabilities.

Akii Ngo, Scot Nicholson, Max Reilly, Andrew Walton, Arty Owens and the DSR logo
Akii Ngo, Scot Nicholson, Max Reilly, Andrew Walton, Arty Owens

The Phoenix Project is a new team of six, tasked with addressing these participation rates in the wake of the new challenges caused by the pandemic. The project aims to support the sector to ensure that people with disability feel confident and safe when they return to sport and recreation. It will also be building the organisational capacity of DSR, and the sector, to be more inclusive, representative, intersectional and accessible.

People with disability have expressed concerns about re-engaging in the community. Many have underlying chronic health conditions and an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. The Phoenix Project will focus on building the capacity of and supporting a range of smaller resourced disability and mainstream sporting organisations to assure people with a disability are not left behind in the return to sport and recreation.

Fair and equal participation is a human right. As always, to bridge this gap we will prioritise the experiences and voices of people with disabilities. This is vital in supporting their participation in sport, recreation, and volunteering. Especially after the Tokyo Paralympics, and the launch of the recent #WeThe15 movement.

Over the next six months, the Project strives to create long-term sustainable change within Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR) and the industry. This includes creating a new alliance with key sector partners and other disability sport and recreation organisations. This alliance will uplift, fortify and unify the sector. Together, this alliance will champion accessibility and agency for people with disabilities to become more active in sport and recreation.

“The Phoenix Project provides a significant opportunity for DSR to take a systems approach and work with the sector and people with disability to establish a stronger foundation so that emerging from COVID more people with disability can be actively engaging in sport and recreation in a way that is meaningful to them.” - Richard Amon, Chief Executive Officer

Outside of this alliance, the Project will deliver programs and initiatives online, and in-person, for when restrictions start to ease. Including the development of an organisational DSR co-design disability advisory committee. This will help to ensure the work that DSR does, is for people with disability, by people with disability.

The Phoenix Team will be forming new partnerships, and engaging long-standing partners, to deliver inclusive programs for people with disability. We look forward to and hope that the relationships built over this time will continue and grow. To support these programs, we also aim to build a sector-wide pool of volunteers by identifying new methods to re-engage existing and to recruit new volunteers. This will assist in developing the capacity and grow the ability of disability sport and recreation organisations to deliver their programs.

DSR has received funding to deliver these, plus other programs and initiatives, in-person and online:

The above programs are a great opportunity to try something new, see what activities are available and find a way to participate in recreation and/or get people with disability active on their own terms.

Want to participate in recreation or get active? DSR is here to help!

To get started check out our NDIS guide, find an activity here, or check out the Disability Online Active series for some at-home workouts.