Inclusive sport and fitness

The development of inclusive practices in sport and recreation provide individuals, organisations and the community with a number of benefits including higher levels of independence, greater social cohesion and overall enrichment of our community.

ACT Government Sport and Recreation aims to support the sport and recreation sector to provide opportunities for all Canberrans to participate in physical activity and looks to improve physical activity outcomes for identified population groups through targeted programs delivered in partnership with the sector. One of the identified population groups is participants with disability.  

ACT Government Sport and Recreation

The ACT is the most physically active community within Australia. Sport and Recreation supports a healthy and physically active city by maintaining high quality sporting grounds and facilities and promoting development and participation in sport in the ACT.

Sport and Recreation can assist sport and recreation providers and clubs to increase their capacity to provide participation opportunities for people with a disability in a number of ways, including:

  • To assist sports develop a practical Disability Participation Plan.
  • Facilitate links and partnerships with disability sport organisations.
  • Encourage ACT sporting organisations to work with their national bodies to implement national strategies for the inclusion of people with a disability.
  • Promote the sharing of good practices and experiences to enable organisations to learn from each other.

More information is available at the Sport and Recreation website

The Sport and Recreation Grant Program (SGRP) is an ACT Government initiative providing assistance to organisations to support participation in active lifestyles through the delivery of quality programs, services and facilities for the benefit of the Canberra community. Within the SRGP there are seven different programs/schemes:

  • Sport and Recreation Operational Program (SROP): The primary objective of SROP assistance is designed to subsidise operational costs to assist eligible peak body organisations to work in partnership with Sport and Recreation to develop participation opportunities in sport and physical recreation in the ACT. The SROP includes an Annual Assistance Program and a Triennial Program.
  • Community Sport and Recreation Development Program (CSRDP): The primary objective of the CSRDP is to provide financial assistance for outcome based projects, programs and initiatives to support participation in active lifestyles for the benefit of all the Canberra community.
  • Capital Assistance Program (CAP): The primary objective of the CAP is to provide financial assistance for capital developments to sport and recreation facilities that will assist to increase community access and participation opportunities in sport and physical recreation activity in the ACT.
  • Inclusive Participation Funding Program (IPFP): The primary objective of the IPFP is to increase participation opportunities in sport and recreation for the identified target populations: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people; older adults; people with disability; and LGBTIQ+ people. Funds can be used to implement new or improve existing sport programs; provide relevant training and education opportunities for employees; or purchase specialised equipment to increase sport and active recreation opportunities.
  • Motor Sports Training and Education Program (MSTEP): The primary objective of the MSTEP is to provide financial assistance to eligible clubs (and through them to individuals) within the ACT to support education and training activities that enhance the experiences and safety of motor sports participants, develops volunteer capacity, improves facility management or increased club capacity and sustainability.
  • Women's Sport and Recreation Participation and Leadership Program (WSRPLP): The primary objective of the WSRPLP is to provide financial assistance to eligible individuals, clubs and organisations within the ACT to support participation, education and training activities that enhance the availability of participation opportunities for women and girls in the ACT and the abilities for females to take on leadership roles in the sector.
  • Sports Loan Interest Subsidy Scheme (SLISS): The Sports Loan Interest Subsidy Scheme (SLISS) provides assistance to eligible organisations undertaking 'significant' capital works developments. While applications for the grant programs above are all available on SmartyGrants, the Grants Officer for Sport and Recreation needs to be contacted in regard to the SLISS.

More information is available at the SGRP page.


Case Studies - Disability Inclusion Grant Recipients 

Ginninderra Athletics Club received a Disability Inclusion Grant (DIG) in 2018. The Ginninderra Athletics Club used this grant to make their Early Years program more inclusive for children of all abilities.

Kids smile at camera, including a wheelchair user

More information on the club's inclusion policy is available on their website.


Capital Football received a DIG in 2017 for training to raise awareness for their footballers and coaches.

Capital Football is the state governing body for soccer in the ACT region affiliated with the national governing body, Football Federation Australia. The Football Connect initiative aims to provide football playing opportunities for people with physical or intellectual disability, who are not interested in or may not yet be ready to play mainstream football.

Football Connect has created pathway programs to assist players looking to go further with their football or transition from the All Ability League to the Junior and Senior mainstream leagues. Football Connect has partnerships with both Special Olympics and Para Football to ensure players have the opportunity to try out for and participate in their events such as National and State tournaments, and program participants have gone on to play for the ParaRoos and represent Australia at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

For more information on programs offered under Capital Football's Football Connect initiative, please visit their website. 


Several DIG recipients in the 2019 round have also included a focus on strengthening opportunities for Canberrans with disability to participate in physical activity:

  • Everyday Champions, for the development of disability awareness training and resources for gym instructors, to improve access and inclusion in gyms
  • Basketball ACT, to progress the Inclusive Basketball Strategy through disability education and awareness
  • Dickson Aquatic Centre Pty Ltd, for improved pool accessibility and safety via pool access steps
  • Pedal Power, to increase the capacity for people with disability to bike-ride through the provision of a new tandem bike for the Fitability fleet


Useful resources 

The Sport Australia website offers tips for Inclusive Practices and downloadable Sports Ability cards suggesting inclusive activities for all kids. Sports Ability is an exciting inclusive program aims to provide people delivering sport or physical activities with more ways of including people with a disability and to encourage inclusive interaction between people with and without a disability in a sporting environment. Sport and Recreation ACT have Sports Ability kits available for schools, disability service providers and sport organisations in the ACT to borrow. To borrow a kit, please call Sport and Recreation on (02) 6205 0344.

AllPlay is an initiative by Deakin University to create new pathways for inclusion for children with disabilities so they can play, learn, dance and connect into the community. AllPlay brings research, sport, dance and education together so kids of all abilities can participate. The website includes resources and a searchable Inclusive Directory to find an inclusive sporting program for children with developmental challenges and disabilities in Australia.

ALLplay - Making the world fit for all kids

Play By The Rules provides information, resources, tools and free online training to increase the capacity and capability of administrators, coaches, officials, players, parents and spectators to assist them in preventing and dealing with discrimination, harassment, child safety, inclusion and integrity issues in sport.

 Play by the Rules - making sport inclusive, safe and fair

Resources on the Play By The Rules website include case studies, a Disability Inclusion Policy template, and information about access, and The 7 Pillars of Inclusion

 Here are some tips from the National Disability Insurance Agency to make local sport more inclusive for Deaf and hard of hearing athletes: 

Other useful websites include:

  • The Inclusion Club, which committed to the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of sport and active recreation. They publish articles, called episodes, podcasts, webinar and other resources to help educate and inform people about the different aspects of inclusion.
  • Inclusive Sport Design, which publishes blog posts and information. 


Further information about inclusive sports in the ACT

Below are links to the peak sporting bodies in the ACT. There are a number of sporting clubs in the ACT region offering inclusive sport programs. Please visit the links for more information or to find your local club:

Volunteering ACT provides an online directory of Canberra community information on My Community Directory, where you can discover over one hundred Sports clubs and associations

You can also visit the Connections in the community page for details of the following stallholders from the 2019 Connect and Participate Expo: 

  • ACT Disc Golf Club
  • Canberra Bushwalking Club
  • Canberra Roller Derby League
  • Canberra Walkers - BungyPump Walking Group
  • Kids Football Club 
  • Kung Fu Wushu ACT Inc.
  • Woden Valley Swim Club

For links to inclusive dance organisations, refer to the Inclusive arts and performance page.