Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Stars join symposium to help break down barriers in sport

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Stars join symposium to help break down barriers in sport

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Star athletes and sporting experts to join national conference focused on inclusion 

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Star athletes and industry professionals will take part in a symposium on the Sunshine Coast to help break down barriers in sport.

Olympic gold medallist Kieren Perkins and Paralympic gold medallist Blake Cochrane will be among the 200-plus attendees at the inaugural Sunshine Coast Sports Symposium, at the University of Sunshine Coast from June 15-17.

Presented by Disability Sports Australia and supported by Sunshine Coast Council and USC, the Disability Sports Australia National Conference, on June 16, will headline the event.

It’s set to bring together leaders in sport, disability, education, allied health, government and community.

They will discuss the importance of collaboration to break down the barriers to sport and physical activity participations of Australians with disabilities.


Sunshine Coast Council Economy Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said the symposium also would highlight the region as a major destination for sports training and competition.

Blake Cochrane in action. Picture: Wade Brennan

“It will be a great event for networking opportunities among sporting teams, clubs, industry and community; and educate, engage and promote the Sunshine Coast sports industry to key decision-makers to facilitate valuable learning and research outcomes,” he said.

“And with the theme of this inaugural event focused on inclusion in sport, headlined by the Disability Sports Australia National Conference, fellow Councillor David Law and I are looking forward to attending and participating in the conversation.”

Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said hosting the conference would be an opportunity to connect and create conversations to influence all levels of government.

It also would enhance council’s ongoing plans to enable more people with a disability to be more active, more often, across the region.

Planned activities include access to industry leaders and networking opportunities for local, state and national organisations, plus a guided tour around USC’s multi-faceted precinct.


The VIP tour will showcase USC’s state-of-the-art sporting facilities, performance critiquing resources, medical research capabilities and the advanced technology on offer at the campus.

A wheelchair rugby celebrity match and cocktail function will offer the opportunity to connect with new and old friends.

The world-class sports precinct at USC.

University of the Sunshine Coast Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Tim Wess said USC was excited to host the symposium and work with partners to shine the spotlight on disability sports and inclusion.

“USC is committed to helping create and facilitate equitable access to all levels of sport and physical activity through our research, sporting opportunities for para-athletes, partnerships, inclusion activities, integrated learning and purpose-built sporting facilities,” he said.

“We are looking forward to showcasing our high-performance sports program and the talents of USC athletes and para-athletes and their outstanding achievements in national and international sporting arenas.”

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A Sports Talk – Industry Breakfast will be held on June 16.

The panel of speakers will include Dr Mark McKean, who is the Head of Physical Performance in High Performance Sport at USC, Murray Elbourn, who is the CEO of Disability Sports Australia and USC Lecturer in Law and Chair of Sunshine Coast Sports Simone Pearce.

International Paralympic Committee member Robyn Smith will be at the conference.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins and new Brisbane 2032 Board Member and International Paralympic Committee member Robyn Smith, who is also an Australian member of the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board, will be keynote speakers at the conference, which will also feature USC Paralympian and Exercise Physiologist Blake Cochrane.

The symposium will be held in USC’s $24 million indoor sports stadium.

The nationally accredited facility seats more than 3000 spectators and caters to a range of sports, including basketball, futsal, netball, badminton and volleyball.

The conference is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.


Live and online tickets are available via Sunshine Coast Sports Symposium and DSA National Conference. For more information, see DSA National Conference.