Cultural Advisory

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this resource contains a range of material which may be considered culturally sensitive, including the images and records of people who have passed away.

Some material in our collections contains terms that reflect author’s views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of the National Library of Australia. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.

Access to library materials

If you are a registered reader, You can request items to read and photocopy in the reading rooms of the National Library of Australia.  

Registered readers can also search selected subscription databases.

If you can't visit the Library, you can use the National Library's Copies Direct service to request copies and have them sent to you via mail or email. Please note there may be copyright restrictions when using this service.

You can also search Trove to find a library closer to you which has the item in their collection.

If there is no library near you with the item, you may be able to arrange an interlibrary loan through your local public or institutional library  Please ask staff at your local library for assistance with this.

Wheelchair race
Ovens, Serena. (1996). Portrait of Louise Sauvage, 1996 paralympian

The sporting movement for people with disabilities began in the 1940s with the pioneering work of Dr Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England. He developed wheelchair sport as a new form of treatment for World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries. In 1948 the first Stoke Mandeville Games was held on the same day as the opening of the Olympic Games in London.

The success of Sir Ludwig’s treatment encouraged pioneers in Australia such as Kevin Betts OAM, and Sir George Bedbrook to introduce sport as rehabilitation in Australia. In 1960 an international wheelchair sports competition in Rome became the first Paralympic Summer Games.

You can find a range of material on disability and sport in Australia at the Library, including books, journals, newspapers, pictures, oral history interviews and online databases.

Using the catalogue

Quick search

Use the catalogue standard search to find titles, authors, or subjects.

  • If you get too many results, use the Limit your search options (at the right of the results page) to display only the items of interest. e.g. audio (oral histories) or manuscripts
  • If you need to widen your search, click on subject headings in an item’s catalogue record to find other material related to that subject.

Examples of subject searches you can try include:

Paralympics (11th :, 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.) - Photographs.

Athletes with disabilities - Australia – Photographs

Athletes with disabilities – Australia

Athletes with disabilities – Australia – [Biography] or [Photographs] or [Portraits]

Sports for people with disabilities – Australia

Sports for people with mental disabilities – Australia

Wheelchair sports – Australia

Wheelchair sports – Australia – [Biography]

Deaf - [Blind] - athletes – Australia – [Biography]

Selected works

Selected biographies

The Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies

The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) established the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies in 2009 to preserve historical, sport, and business information, and to enhance its knowledge base. Additionally, it aimed to respond to requests for information about Paralympians and Paralympic sport.

In 2010, the APC partnered with the National Library of Australia to document the oral histories of individuals who contributed to the growth and success of Paralympic sport in Australia. This oral history project served as the foundation for a broader project undertaken by the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies to capture and safeguard the history of Paralympic sport.  

The Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history project [sound recording] includes 57 interviews many of which are available to freely listen to online.

Some selected interviews from this collection which are freely available to listen online include:

Websites on the Paralympic movement

You can find a range of information on the Paralympics Australia website. Paralympics Australia help Australians with disabilities participate in sport and compete at the Paralympic Games through partnerships with governments, business, sporting bodies and the community.

In 2010 Paralympics Australian established the Australian Paralympic History Project which aims to capture, manage and preserve the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia.

photograph of female wheelchair basketball player
Ovens, Serena. (1993). Portrait of Liesl Tesch, 1993

Paralympic Games – 2000, Sydney

You can search and access a collection of archived websites relating to the Paralympic Games – 2000, Sydney on the Australian Web Archive on Trove.

A game of wheelchair basketball at Sydney olympics
Seselja, Loui. (2000). Men's wheelchair basketball, France plays Korea, The Dome, Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, 23 October 2000 [1]

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