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Disability and sport
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.
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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.
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.
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.
The National Library of Australia acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website contains a range of material which may be considered culturally sensitive including the records of people who have passed away.