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Speed, Strategy and Success: Learnings from 90 days as ASAPD CEO – Dr. Phil Hamdorf

Taking on the role of CEO at the Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability (ASAPD) has been an incredible privilege and insightful journey to date. 

From the moment I was appointed, I was genuinely enthusiastic about collaborating with organisations dedicated to providing outstanding services to individuals living with disability. The support I received personally from the industry and my network was heartening, and I remain energised by ASAPD’s purpose and the potential we all have to make meaningful change. And we need to do it now.

The time for change was yesterday

As I stepped into the newly formed position, my mission was clear: make a positive impact on our partners’ initiatives and help them better serve the community. 

Now, three months into my role, it has become evident that the sector dedicated to providing sport for individuals living with disability exhibits characteristics of fragmentation, uncertainty, and inaction. While many National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) express high intentions and offer exceptional programming options, a significant number still lack sufficient resources to address inclusion and diversity as comprehensively as is required.

I have delivered our first Annual Report, held our first Annual General Meeting, championed the rollout of the Education Coaching Modules of which hundreds of Australians involved in sport have already successfully completed. The list of meetings, grant applications, budgets and papers is extensive and expected and we are making true progress as influencers in the sector.

One unified voice for greater inclusion

One program I’m particularly proud of steering is our One Voice Partnership Initiative, which aims to bolster the capacity of NSOs to effectively manage programs and raise awareness of disability practices within their respective organisations. The overarching goal is to facilitate improved engagement strategies for participants, ultimately making sports programs more inclusive for individuals with disabilities.

The One Voice Partnership Initiative is an evolution of the Inclusion Alliance Project established in 2019. A large priority of mine is to seek opportunities for ASAPD to work closely alongside NSOs to enhance the awareness of disability practices within each organisation’s workforce. This may involve activities such creating toolkits, providing educational resources, conducting workshops, having roundtable discussions and agreeing to action plans for success.

Looking beyond ASAPD’s membership, we recognise that numerous entities provide sports and active recreation services to people with disability, often working in isolation. We’re delving deeper to understand these organisations better and exploring if ASAPD can play a broader role, particularly in areas related to service quality and compliance with standards.

The power of communication, collaboration and celebration

Undoubtedly, the paramount lesson I’ve gleaned is the critical importance of not only effective communication, but also its continuous nature. To me, effective and continuous communication is the linchpin for success in professional conversations and collaborative undertakings. I’ve also come to understand that this sector is defined by individuals and organisations that, for the most part, have a genuine desire to contribute positively to their communities and are driven by principled intentions and aspirations.

Excitingly, these reflections coincide with a significant milestone for ASAPD. We are preparing to celebrate our birthday, and it’s no coincidence that it aligns with the International Day for People with Disability. This day holds special significance as it highlights the achievements and contributions of individuals with disability worldwide. It’s a powerful reminder of the importance of our mission and the positive impact sports can have on the lives of those we serve.

As we approach these milestones, I’m filled with optimism about the road ahead. These lessons, combined with the spirit of inclusivity symbolised by not only International Day for People with Disability, but by Australians every day, will undoubtedly guide ASAPD to new heights. 

Together, we will continue to move forward at pace, championing sports and activities for people with disability, ensuring that no one is left behind.


Phil Hamdorf PHD GAICD