Date of Award
Master of Business
School of Business
Business and Law
Dr Ruth Sibson
Dr Sue Colyer
In the late 1960s, there was a major change in social policy and legislation in developed countries that improved the rights and opportunities for people with a disability in all aspects of society, including sport. In 1992, in concert with the general acceptance of the social model of disability, Australia enacted legislation making it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability; this encouraged their inclusion into the community (Australian Sports Commission, 2005; Doll-Tepper, 1999; Thomas & Smith, 2009).
In order to meet the obligations of anti-discrimination legislation, Australian sport organisations became active in preparing policy frameworks to guide and develop programs to improve access and hence participation by people with a disability. Much of the literature has focussed on constraints to sport participation, but few studies have reported the influence on, or outcome of, these policy development processes on sport generally, or on the inclusion of people with a disability at a club level. By examining those Western Australian sport organisations identified as active in providing opportunities in their respective sports for people with a disability, this study aimed to address this gap in inclusion research.
This study reviewed the process of policy development used by Western Australian State Sport Associations (SSA) and investigated the influence this process had on the inclusion of people with a disability in sport at a club level. A qualitative methodological approach was chosen with semistructured interviews (with SSA and club representatives) and document analyses of state and national sport organisation (NSO) policies that related to the inclusion of people with a disability. Purposive selection of the initial study participants, SSAs, was used to identify those actively attempting to include people with disabilities in their sports. Representatives from clubs which were known to be inclusive were also identified during the semi-structured interviews with the SSA cohort. This approach focused on the experiences of those who were actively involved in the policy development process, as well as those active in the delivery of programs for people with a disability. The personal knowledge and experience revealed by all who were interviewed, was analysed using content analysis, and the relevant policy documents from the national and state sport organisations were analysed by matrix analysis.
The findings reveal that the SSA and NSO policy documents that relate to the inclusion of people with a disability in sport have similar content; however, the policy development processes vary, and do not follow the theoretical policy development frameworks suggested in the literature. There are many variables, both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ that influence the process of policy development, such as the incentive of government funding and direction provided by NSOs; and there being individuals in the sport organisations who are prepared to drive the policy process and its implementation process forward. This study found that although SSA policy development processes result in limited outcomes at a club level, when a sport organisation goes through a process it makes a commitment to include people with a disability. This in turn raises the organisation’s awareness of ways and means to include them into mainstream sport or specific programs. While several of the sports were active in conducting separate programs, specifically for people with a disability, the flow down of the influence of the policy development to clubs from the national and state level appeared negligible. There was also little coordination and engagement of SSAs and their affiliated clubs when planning and conducting programs for people with a disability. This study proposes a modified approach whereby sport organisations can follow a realistic policy development pathway to create desired change. Moreover, this study reveals the complex environment and stakeholders involved with the inclusion of people with a disability in sport.
Cunningham, H. (2013). A review of the policy development processes that relate to the inclusion of people with a disability in sport : some Western Australian evidence. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/600