About Our Services
The Nican website provides information on recreation, tourism, sport and the arts for people with disAbilities and supports an Australian society where any recreational opportunity values diversity, supports freedom and choice and strengthens inclusive communities.
The Nican website aims to create active and dynamic national links between people, places and resources that improve access to recreation experiences for people with disAbilities and their communities.
The National Information Communication Awareness Network (NICAN) was launched in March 1988 by the late Mrs. Hazel Hawke at the (then) Lakeside Hotel in Canberra after political recognition that people with a disability did not enjoy the same level of participation in recreation and leisure as people without disability and that one of the reasons was a lack of available information. Nican was originally funded by the Bicentennial Authority with the purpose of providing much needed information to people with a disability in the area of sport, recreation, tourism and the arts. Nican was incorporated in 1989 and was funded by the Federal Department of Community Services and Health. Information (hard copy) was provided free of charge to all whom asked for it. As an organisation ahead of its time Nican’s data base was one of the first DATA information services available not only in Australia but in the world on a dial up connection. In fact the world was not ready for Nican and to assist people access the information, computers were given to major sport and recreation organisations in the capital cities. Librarians who were the majority users of the Internet during this time warned Nican that the online approach to catalogues would never replace the CD ROM information. The National Library and the CSIRO (Csironet) however were very supportive of the approach and recommended it as the technological advance of 1988. It did not go on to win this title, however it was highly regarded and was a groundbreaking database and delivery system.
Recognition of the role recreation and leisure plays in everyday life was a cornerstone to the activities Nican undertook over and above the provision of information. As a result Nican disseminated information in various formats including through conferences, workshops, photographic competitions and exhibitions and through leadership in the education and vocational training sectors and policies, all with the aim of increasing access and opportunities to social participation by people with a disability and promoting the achievements and issues faced by people with a disability. Ultimately Nican worked towards creating an inclusive Australia that valued every person for their contribution to society and by promoting the removal of environmental and attitudinal barriers to allow people with a disability to participate as fully as they chose to in every day life including recreation and leisure.
For many years through the 1990s and 2000s Nican was also synonymous with the International Day of People with Disability celebrations as the community engagement and premotor of the day nationally. Through this day Nican along with thousands of event coordinators throughout the country were able to draw attention to the achievements of individuals and also issues faced every day by people with a disability. At no time in Australia’s marking of the day were event numbers higher than when Nican was leading the day.
Through out Nican’s 28 year life, the organisation continued to be groundbreaking and in 2010 its new website was a finalist in two categories of the Australian Website Awards. In 2013 Nican launched the first disability geospatial smart phone app that gave users access to information whilst on the go. 2013 also saw the launch of a unique all abilities theatre group called REBUS whose purpose was to provided disability awareness training. REBUS subsequently left the umbrella of Nican and went on to win an ACT Inclusion Award in 2014.