October 1 - An ambitious new research project aiming to tell the history of the Paralympic Movement in Australia using online tools and social media has been awarded funding under the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme.
The project, called "Creating Histories of the Australian Paralympic Movement: A New Relationship between Researchers and the Community", is a collaboration between the University of Queensland's School of Human Movement Studies, through associate professor Murray Phillips and Dr Gary Osmond, and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and Wikimedia Australia.
Through the collaboration of these three organisations, the initiative aims to create a new relationship between historical research, disability sport and the Australian community through exploring and analysing the historical development of sport for people with disabilities in the country.
"The significance of the Paralympic movement in terms of its power to change public perceptions and attitudes towards disability, to influence public policy and to empower people with a disability as full participants in society cannot be underestimated," said associate professor Phillips.
"We are faced with the challenge of researching the history of this Movement in all of its cultural, social, technical and political complexities, and exploring its potent symbolism.
"Wikimedia Australia, with its volunteer community, global reach and incredible popularity, is a perfect vehicle to help create and tell the story of the Australian Paralympic Movement."
In charting the history of Paralympic sport in Australia, the project will utilise online communications technology such as social media platforms to allow for greater collaboration and sharing of information between researchers and scholars, sport practitioners and online editors involved.
By the end of the process, researchers hope to have compiled enough historical material and information to produce a hard-copy book and e-history version as well as the creation and development of freely-licenced content on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
"Working with The University of Queensland and Wikimedia Australia to capture Australia's Paralympic history is important not only for the Paralympic movement but for the whole of Australia," said Jason Hellwig, chief executive of the APC.
"The work both Wikimedia Australia and associate professor Phillips have done so far has been great and we look forward to seeing this project take shape.
"It's important for us that the athletes of tomorrow understand and respect those who have come before them and how the Movement has evolved over time."
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July 2011: Australia launch major project to tell story of Paralympics