AUTUMN 2022

MEET MAX BURT
Creative, easily bored, determined, entrepreneur, founder of WheelEasy app.

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All of us have experienced (and grumbled about) not being able to go places because of varying degrees of lockdowns over the past couple of years. But imagine that being your life for the past 22 years. That’s been Max Burt’s experience – and far longer for some others with mobility needs – since a London fire engine ploughed into his car in 2000. Max went from being the youngest director of the biggest ad agency in London to having head injuries that meant he couldn’t balance or walk or talk as before, and is dependent on his wheelchair to get around.

As Max learnt to cope with his own injuries, he became aware of just how much they affect everyone who spends time with him – family, friends, work colleagues.

‘I had to rebuild my life after it fell apart,’ Max says. This determined over-achiever went from winning the UK’s most prestigious advertising award to winning UK Disabled Entrepreneur award just seven years after his accident. ‘A major part of rebuilding my life was meeting my wife, Justine. But my lack of access to venues inevitably affects her life, too.’

Lack of mobility can affect so many people – elderly people, and those with elderly parents, or new mums and dads struggling with prams. As Max says, ‘That’s at least 8 million Australians. Access, to live our lives, is something we all expect. But to a greater or lesser extent, those people are excluded from participating fully in society and in life. They get stuck, they give up, and they stay in.’

It’s not only the physical lack of wheelchair or pram access, it’s also lack of access to information.

‘Guess how long it took us to discover that one of our local beaches had a beach wheelchair when we moved here from the UK? Three years!’ he says. ‘Incredible.’

Max’s determination to find where he and his wheelchair could go led to him creating the WheelEasy Access Information web app, a ‘TripAdvisor’ with information and reviews for access to everything from beaches to cinemas, cafes and more, all in one place.

‘It’s designed with mobiles in mind so people can see what’s nearby and be spontaneous for the first time. And there’s an emphasis on sharing photos so you can see if it suits your particular level of mobility.’

‘We have areas of Sydney quite well covered and my priority is now doing the same on the Coast. When we’ve done that, we intend to cover all of Australia!’

Max sits on disability advisory panels at the City of Sydney and Central Coast Councils and dedicates his life to improving attitudes towards disabled people and enhancing their life experience. Meanwhile, he’s also enjoying exploring more and more of his own neighbourhoods and being able to share them with so many others.

For access information, contributing information to the app, or volunteering, go to wheeleasy.org

Some of Max Burt’s favourite places

Cycle path from Woy Woy Ferry Wharf, alongside the water, all the way to Gosford

Avoca Beach (beach matting, two beach wheelchairs, rock pool, shoreline path)

Avoca Beach Picture Theatre

Tuggerah Lake picnic areas and extensive pathway, The Entrance

The Grand Pavilion restaurant, Ettalong Beach

Pearls on the Beach restaurant, Pearl Beach

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