Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's official! Press release goes out.

Australian athlete Bruce Wallrodt (Western Australia)
prepares to throw in the F53 seated javelin event
in which he won the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games
See more images loaded to Wikimedia Commons
The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) today launched an exciting and innovative new project to tell the extraordinary story of the Paralympic sport movement in Australia.

Historians and experts from the University of Canberra, the University of Queensland and Wikimedia Australia will use Wikipedia and social networking tools, as well as traditional historical research, to tell Australia’s Paralympic history online and in print.

APC Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said the project will help ensure that the cultural and sporting significance of the Australian Paralympic movement is understood and recognised.

“We will assemble content from a variety of sources to engage the community and enhance the profile and presence of Paralympic sport,” Hellwig said.

“The result will be a rich, multi-dimensional history of the Paralympic movement in Australia, which can be added to as the Paralympic movement continues its rapid growth.”

The APC has secured the services of experienced sports historian Murray Phillips from the University of Queensland to lead the project.

“I have been writing sport history for over two decades, but the history of the Paralympic movement is a unique opportunity and I am thrilled to be involved. It is unique because it combines traditional forms of history with the ways in which the sporting past is created in the digital age,” Phillips said.

“This project will produce a book and online resources that capture the experiences of athletes, coaches, administrators and others who have generated the story of the Paralympic movement in Australia.”

In addition to Phillips’ involvement, the University of Queensland will engage the University of Canberra, through its National Institute of Sports Studies (UCNISS), to manage the project’s online components.

“The National Institute of Sport Studies is delighted and honoured to be a partner in this exciting venture,” said UCNISS Director, Professor Keith Lyons.

“We are keen to share our experience of open access publication in this project and to contribute to the flourishing of Australian Paralympic sport."

A key component of the project will be the establishment of an Australian Paralympic project through Wikipedia.

Wikimedia Australia President John Vandenberg said: “Our Australian user group will assist members of the Australian Paralympic community to contribute to the Wikipedia content as Wikipedia editors, helping to foster the sense of a Paralympic community.”

A program of outreach and support work will assist Wikipedia volunteer editors to engage with the Paralympic community to enhance Wikipedia’s Paralympic coverage through articles which incorporate and link to images, videos, audio and websites.

“We will address the gaps in the information about Australia’s contribution to the Paralympic movement through the publication of a large number of articles on Wikipedia – the world's largest free content website,” Mr Vandenberg said.

To assist in this process, the APC is making available through Wikimedia Commons a significant proportion of its photograph collection of more than 35,000 images. The first of these, from the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, are now available for free use through the Wikimedia Commons website. (Search “Australia at the 1996 Summer Paralympics”.)

The donation of photos will fill a gap in the availability of high quality images of Paralympic sport which can be used to highlight the achievements of this unique sporting movement. Photos from other Games and events will be progressively made available by the APC.

The project is part of the APC’s commitment to collect, manage and preserve Paralympic history in Australia, and is one of a number of APC initiatives currently underway to ensure Australia’s Paralympic history is accessible and understood.

The APC’s history project also includes:

  • Oral history interviews with major contributors to the Paralympic movement in Australia, through the National Library of Australia’ oral history program;
  • The production of audio-visual interviews to complement the oral histories;
  • The ongoing collection of Paralympic vision, images, audio and press clips managed by the Australian Sports Commission through the National Sports Information Centre.
  • The development of the APC’s in-house library;
  • The launch of the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame, with the inaugural inductees to be announced on 29 August, 2011;
  • The staging of Paralympic Team reunions,
  • The establishment of an Australian Paralympic alumni;
  • A physical collection of memorabilia.
You can track the progress of this project, by following the project blog.