Media release courtesy of Paralympics Australia

Australia will have its first representative on the International Paralympic Committee’s Governing Board in nearly a decade after long-time disability inclusion advocate Robyn Smith was elected as one of 10 IPC Members at Large at the governing body’s 20th General Assembly on Sunday.

Smith, who has been involved in sport for 30 years, currently serves as Vice President of Virtus World Intellectual Impairment Sport, CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia, Chair of the Australian Sporting Alliance for People with Disability and CEO of the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022.

She becomes the first Australian to serve on the IPC’s Governing Board since former Paralympics Australia President Greg Hartung’s 12-year tenure ended in 2013. Hartung was also IPC Vice President between 2009 and 2013.

Smith was named on Sunday alongside nine other successful candidates, who will each serve a four-year term through to the 22nd IPC General Assembly which will be held in late 2025.

The new Board includes a record eight Para-athletes and Paralympians.

The freshly-elected Members at Large are:

· Debra Alexander (South Africa – World Triathlon)
· Mohamed Alhameli (UAE – NPC)
· Muffy Davis (USA – NPC)
· Miki Matheson (Japan – NPC)
· Chelsey Gotell (Canada – NPC)
· Jai-Jun Chung (Korea – NPC)
· Luca Pancalli (Italy – NPC)
· John Petersson (Denmark – NPC)
· Majid Rashed (UAE – Asian Paralympic Committee)
· Robyn Smith (Australia – Virtus)

Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said Smith’s election to the Governing Board was significant for Paralympic sport in Australia.

“Representation at the highest level of Paralympic sport governance is a huge responsibility and opportunity,” O’Callaghan said.

“In Robyn we are very fortunate to have someone who has vast experience as a passionate advocate for the wonderful and positive impacts that sport brings to change lives, especially for those who are underrepresented and marginalised because of a disability.

“On behalf on Paralympics Australia, I sincerely congratulate Robyn for her outstanding pitch for election, which clearly filled the IPC Membership with confidence that she will do a fine job of furthering the international Paralympic movement’s goals.”

Smith said she believed people with disability should be embraced for the diversity they bring to society.

“I stood on making sure that we represented people with a disability right across the globe. That was my platform. I’m pretty humbled that people thought that worthy and that I get a chance to make good,” Smith said

“I’m a strong believer that you shouldn’t stand for something and not deliver. So hopefully I can be a voice for those quite marginalised groups and really deliver over the next four years and make some genuine improvements.

“I believe [IPC President] Andrew Parsons is a great leader who has delivered on many of the promises he’s made, so I’m very proud to be able to work with him too.

“I’m not sure that our region has been really well looked after. Paralympics Australia sits in a really great place, a place of strength. Our Team’s always done well, batted way above our average, but if we’re going to be really genuine we can reach out more and help our Oceania and Pacific countries.”

Smith’s election to IPC Board brings with it a position on the Board of the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee, joining O’Callaghan and Paralympian Kurt Fearnley as representatives from the Paralympic movement alongside members from federal, state and local governments, the Olympic movement and independent members.

“From a Brisbane 2032 perspective, it allows us to position the IPC movement in a really positive light long-term. It’s about making sure the Australian people understand how strong the Paralympic movement is and how much it can inspire people with a disability to get out and get involved in sport,” Smith said.