Episode 7:

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association

Published: June 2011: Updated: August 2013; September 2017

Partners: Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association—Jenny Frowd and David Bartholemeus

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association have been making a difference in the lives of people with disability for over 30 years. They are a leading Australian organisation that has a deep understanding of inclusion and, in more recent times, been linking disability and sport sector organisations to create more opportunities throughout Queensland. See how they are making a dent in the world.

The Inclusion Club—Episode07: Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association Logo

It’s with tremendous pleasure that this week we profile Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association. I have been looking forward to this one!

I have worked with Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association for around 20 years and can tell you that it has given me a great deal of professional satisfaction to have at least played some kind of role in helping them provide a huge number of opportunities for people with disability in Queensland in that time.

The Association are based in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland and have regional offices throughout the state. Just to give you a little background on the Association…

The mission of The Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Sport and Recreation Association of Queensland Inc. is to enhance the lives of people with a disability through community engagement and education, sport and healthy activity.

In 2007, the Association celebrated 30 years of service to the Queensland community.

From their early beginnings as a Brisbane based wheelchair sports club, they have evolved to become an organisation recognised as a leader, both in Queensland and Australia, in providing state-wide sport, recreation and fitness programs to members who have physical disabilities, including: amputation, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, acquired brain injury or vision impairment.

The Association is a self-supporting, not for profit disability service providing organisation that raises funds through its own business enterprises, the Gold Choice Art Union and Beeline Sales Support.

The Association also receives funding from the Queensland Government and key sponsors which is a much needed source of financial support.

While the Association do a wide range of functions and have many different components of their organisation, we are going to concentrate on their work with a program called Sports CONNECT—a national initiative they deliver throughout Queensland.

The basic objective of Sports CONNECT is to create links between sports organisations and disability sector organisations to create more opportunities for people with disability in sport and active recreation.

Connecting Sport and Disability Sectors

For this episode of The Inclusion Club I interviewed Jenny Frowd who manages the Disability Education Team at the Association. Here, Jenny talks about the Association and how they deliver Sports CONNECT through their networks across the state.

You can download a transcript of this interview below.

Their role is best described as the ‘broker’ in the Sports CONNECT Framework as everything they do aims to facilitate connections between the supply (i.e. Sport) and demand (i.e. Disability) sectors and across government.

Their goal in working with targeted organisations is to assist them to build their own capacity for the inclusion of people of all abilities in sport and active recreation. They have a ‘relational’ rather than ‘transactional’ role with both State Sports Organisations and disability service organisations and, as they value the complexity of the relationships they are developing in both sectors, they take the necessary time to build these relationships to provide a high quality of support.

To ensure sustainability of the inclusive practices they also clearly articulate exit strategies from the relationship from the start. Both supply and demand organisations understand they are there to help them facilitate these principles and strategies within their organisation and when the organisation is ready they will exit from the relationship.

Sustainability is a key to how they work with both sport and disability sector organisations.

So how do they bring sport and disability sector organisations together?

They do this using something called a Readiness Assessment Tool (RAT) and a Charter.

It works like this: the Association set up a meeting with either a sports organisation or a disability sector organisation. In that meeting they get information about a range of factors that they can then use to assess that organisation’s ‘readiness’ to provide more opportunities for people with disability. The factors include:

  • Impact
    The organisation will make a significant improvement on the participation of people with disabilities in sport.
  • Commitment
    The organisation is committed to providing a range of sporting options for people with disabilities.
  • Capacity
    The organisation has the overall capability to create sustainable opportunities in sport for people with disabilities.
  • Delivery
    The organisation is able to organise and deliver a range of sporting options for people with disabilities?
  • Communication
    The organisation has a variety of effective communication mechanisms for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Partnerships
    The organisation has effective working relationships with key stakeholders and/or is able to develop effective. working relationships with stakeholders

Each factor receives a rating. The rating is a score, out of a possible 5 points. The points indicate:

  1. Needs to urgently deal with the factor
  2. Not dealing with the factor adequately and this will likely cause serious barriers
  3. Dealing adequately with the factor but there may be some significant issues that could provide barriers
  4. Dealing reasonably well with the factor but there may be some underlying minor issues that need addressing
  5. Dealing well with the factor

The overall score (from a possible 30 points) from the assessment indicates if that organisation is ‘ready’ or not to provide more opportunities for people with disability.

Now, it’s important to understand that the rating is not a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ score. It is simply a means to help identify which organisations are best suited and most ready to provide the best type of opportunities for people with disability. It identifies gaps and issues that need to be addressed.

There may be more than one meeting and the Association would do a lot more research around all the organisations involved in the RAT process before making the final assessment if the organisation is really ready to move onto the next stage—the formation of a Charter.

The Charter is simply a one page plan, setting out what the organisation aims to achieve in the next 12 months. This gives the participating organisation something simple, yet sustainable, to aim for. It is not a difficult or time consuming process to develop a Charter. It is designed to get them started with creating opportunities.

Take a look at the document below that gives a representation of the process undertaken by the Association under Sports CONNECT.

The Inclusion Club—Episode07: SWDA Plan

I hope that gives you a bit of a snapshot of the excellent work done by Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association in Queensland. Go and pay them a visit at their website as this will give you a broader idea of the full breadth of their work.


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About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.