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Sport Commission must resolve APC funding crisis by June 30

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June 11, 1998





Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) Chief Executive, Mr Scott Derwin, said today it was imperative the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) resolves the APC’s $1.5 million funding shortfall by the end of this month.


Mr Derwin made this statement today following an agreement between the APC and the ASC to hold urgent talks on the funding crisis next Monday.


The ASC had previously advised the APC that it will receive only $1 million, or 4%, of the total Olympic Athlete Program (OAP) budget of $25 million.


“We welcome the meeting with the ASC next Monday as it is vital that all our 280 Paralympic Preparation Program (PPP) athletes and 50 coaches have an assurance by the end of the month whether any additional funding will be ‘forthcoming in the next financial year,” said Mr Derwin.


“It would be grossly unfair on the athletes and the coaches to have this issue continue to hang over them in the months ahead while they are preparing for World Championships,” he added.


“It would be an unnecessary and unwarranted distraction which may effect their athletic performances.


“Without a clear resolution regarding an additional $1.5 million to fund our preparations for 1998-99, the APC cannot prepare a sports budget for all 18 sports which will be conducted at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.”


Mr Derwin said he was disappointed with press comments today attributed to ASC Chief Executive, Mr Jim Ferguson, which stated the APC could “make it (proposed increased funding compared to 1996) go further”.


“We are aiming to field an Australian team almost double the size of which was represented at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games and we want them to compete in almost 50 per cent more sports,” said Mr Derwin.


“It will require an additional $1.5 million in Federal Government funding to be able to achieve these objectives.


“Just because the APC and the athletes have successfully managed to achieve significant medal results with limited funding in the past, doesn’t mean we should continue to work with a meagre budget in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.


“Our Paralympians are elite athletes in their own right and they are entitled to receive the best possible preparation, in all 18 Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games sports not just for 155 athletes in nine sports,” he added.


“We trust that Mr Ferguson will attend Monday’s meeting with an open mind on this critical funding issue.


Mr Derwin said he was pleased Federal Sports Minister, Mr Andrew Thomson, said yesterday that more had to be done for Australia’s Paralympians.


Bat Mr Derwin said he was puzzled with his claims that the ASC increased funding to the APC by $500,000 last week.


“We have been informed we will receive an extra $250,000, compared to our 1997-98 grant, in Olympic Athlete Program (OAP) funding in 1998-99.


“However we have received no advice on funding for 1999-2000,” he said. “Needless to say, a $1 million OAP grant will be grossly inadequate for 1999-2000.


Mr Derwin also said the APC had been negotiating with Mr Thomson and the ASC since last February over the 1998-99 funding issue and the APC’s request for additional funding was not “sudden” as has been claimed.


“APC President Greg Hartung and I met with Mr Thomson on February 27 where we first expressed our grave concerns. And since then, there has been a number of letters to Mr Thomson’s office and to the ASC,” he explained.


Mr Derwin reiterated that only the Federal Government can assist the APC and its athletes in this current funding crisis.


“Any assistance for the Australian team to compete at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games must come to the APC from the Federal Government.


“While the APC welcomes Mr Thomson’s challenge for State Government, Paralympic Games sponsors and the corporate sector to ‘dig deep’, the APC and the athletes need direct additional funding. This can only come from the Federal Government,” he said.


Mr Derwin also said the APC was unaware of any questions asked of it by the ASC, as claimed by Mr Thomson, in relation to its budget and high performance athlete programs.


Further information: Greg Campbell, Javelin Australia  Ph: (02) 9959 3010