Central Coast, NSW
In September 2021, LG Electronics Australia recognised Max Burt as a local hero in his Central Coast community.
Following a life-changing car accident in 1999, Max founded a charity that seeks to help those that have mobility needs.
WheelEasy, is a free web application that maps accessible friendly venues to help mobility impaired people better enjoy their community. Three years ago, it launched in Sydney, and is now spreading across the country.
Max realised the need for better information on accessibility after his own accident left him unable to balance, walk or talk in the same way he had beforehand.
We spoke to Max to learn more about his efforts – how he got started, his greatest challenges and what is in store for WheelEasy.
LG: What inspired you to give back in your community?
MB: The night of 2 November 1999 changed my life forever. The car accident left me with severe head injuries that resulted in my loss of balance, ability to walk and talk like I used to. Today, I use a wheelchair permanently and am partially paralysed on my left side. Despite these significant injuries, however, I am still on a journey of sorts to rebuild life, because the accident allowed me to explore so many different avenues and set me on a course to helping those who, like me, are differently abled.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
MB: About ten years ago, when my wife, Justine, and I moved to Australia we discovered that no places close to where we live on the Central Coast had the required accessibility that would allow someone with mobility challenges to enter. From that point we realised that this will continue to be a problem until someone steps in. We also understood that access to information about accessible venues was a big issue. We thought that it would be transformative if there was some sort of source that provided reliable information to make a huge difference to people’s lives very quickly.
Not wanting people to face these challenges every day, we decided to launch WheelEasy and we’re proud that we decided to take that plunge. WheelEasy is a Sydney-focused geolocation maps and mobility-friendly web app that seeks to provide wheelchair users, their families and friends with better access to the leisure activities that most Australians take for granted.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
MB: When we initially started WheelEasy we had about 600 places logged on the map, now we’ve got close to 1,500 different venues. It has been so encouraging to see so many people get involved and support our initiative. Additionally, our advertising campaigns and the engagement we’ve achieved off the back of a recent YouTube campaign has resulted nearly 200,000 video views and 48 percent click through. It’s these numbers that continue to demonstrate how engaging this information is for Australians.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
MB: The real challenge is continually encouraging people to add places to the webapp. It can be a slow process, but something that we are constantly working on. We have, however, seen lots of pick-up in recent months, and I think a lot of this can be attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When I had my accident 22 years ago, the way I lived my life changed completely - I was confined to my house and a few select areas, and most people didn’t realise the impact this can have on your mental health. The pandemic really put this into perspective for a lot of people, because the majority experienced for a short time what many have to experience every day, forever. Now we’re finding that people have more empathy for people with mobility needs.
LG: What’s next for you and your initiative?
MB: Until recently, the webapp has very much been about providing people information on individual venues. However we've always envisaged making the webapp a place where people can trade ideas about activities and things to do. It’s all well and good to have information on places to visit, but a real problem for people in my position is about finding ideas on what to do and on accessible experiences.
So, we've just launched an ‘accessible experiences’ section, which provides ideas on how to spend your free time, whether that be providing ideas for free things to do, or accessible experiences that you pay for. We’d also like to create a downloadable app which we’re working on through sourcing more funds.
LG: What does being named an ‘LG Local Legend’ mean to you?
MB: It was so wonderful to be recognised as an LG Local Legend. We’ve been able to launch new campaigns that have allowed us to offer the LG gram laptop as a prize for those who add more places to the webapp. This recognition has allowed us to bring about more good and help the initiative grow further.
We would truly like to thank Max for his contributions in supporting the Sydney community. We wish WheelEasy our best as they continue to spread more information on accessible venues and help to make people’s lives easier. For more information on WheelEasy, visit https://wheeleasy.org/
You can learn more about the inspiring work our LG Local Legends are doing within their local communities by visiting lglifesgood.com.au.