Paralympians set to mentor young people with serious injuries

Date: Aug 25, 2015

The NSW government has announced a new mentoring partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) that could provide significant benefits to people who have suffered serious injuries.

State Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet said the $1 million initiative will see Paralympians help young individuals who have been involved in car accidents or seriously hurt themselves at work. Mr Perrottet said the scheme should provide inspiration for the mentees.

“Our Paralympians are heroes to our young people and pillars in our community, with their inspirational stories of struggle, sacrifice and achievement,” he explained. “This partnership will give young injured people hope and encouragement by forging an invaluable connection with sporting heroes who have overcome similar experiences and achieved at the highest level.”

Serious accidents may result in total and permanent disabilities, which can have a huge impact on an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing. There could also be financial ramifications, including lost wages and medical costs.

Mr Perrottet stated the mentorship program could significantly help people who are currently at their most vulnerable due to unforeseen circumstances.

A long-running partnership

This is not the first time the APC has worked with the NSW government. In fact, the mentorship initiative is a revamp of the existing Paralympian Speakers Program.

The government has offered the scheme for nearly 15 years, making it the longest-running sponsorship arrangement on its books. The recently formed Insurance & Care NSW will now administer the updated version of the program.

Vivek Bhatia, Safety, Return to Work and Support CEO, said all the parties involved are keen to build on the success of the previous partnership.

“For more than a decade, past and present sporting greats such as Leisl Tesch and Joany Badenhorst have been helping to build safer workplaces through the popular Paralympian Speakers Program,” he said.

Grant Mizens, a member of the Australian men’s national wheelchair basketball team, is one of the mentors. He was a gold medal winner at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and also featured in the Athens 2004 and London 2012 events.

“The journey back to life is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and a steadfast positive attitude,” he stated. According to the athlete, he is glad he will be able to give back to those who helped him through his disability by supporting young people in similar positions.

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