Makers support Need-Knowers

Participants in a previous Makeathon event. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Jamie Salter

The lives of people living with a disability are being improved thanks to a ’TOM: Melbourne Makeathon’ event, combining Makers with Need-Knowers to deliver technological solutions to everyday problems.

The event brings together Need-Knowers – people with disability who have a specific need and connecting them to Makers – a diverse group of professionals and university students, working and studying in the disciplines of engineering, industrial design, allied health and trades, who possess the skills and knowledge to bring the solutions to life.

Together, they co-design and build products that solve a complex problem and assist to improve the everyday life of the Need-Knower with previous solutions including robotic arms, powered crutches, wheelchair wheel cleaners and bespoke exercise machines.

Chelsea Rabl of Berwick is taking part in this year’s event as a Maker.

“I’m studying environment engineering and geographical science at Monash and I used to be in a team called Precious Plastics and we were in the makers space, so when I saw the opportunity to do the Makethon I thought, these guys have access to all this awesome stuff to try and make a difference and make people’s lives easier,“ Ms Rabl said.

“I find it so fun to put things together and try to make them work, the Makeathon will be tiring but well worth it.

“People are shifting to see disability not so much as the person’s problem but a problem of our society, so if we can change that, then those people can contribute to the world and live an amazing life like everybody else.“

Jake Walker from Pakenham is also taking part in this year’s Makeathon as a Need-Knower to tackle accessibility issues he has faced.

Jake loves bike riding but uses a special needs trike that his support workers are not able to transport easily unless they hook up a caged trailer.

The Makeathon will work on a bike rack or something that support workers would easily be able to use to take Jake out riding.

Jake’s carer Zoe Lomas said the Makeathon would give him the ability to do what he loves.

“Jake is 23 and he really loves to ride his bike so we’ve been looking at ways to transport his bike easier so we contacted TOM,” she said.

“He was one of the lucky few to be selected and we’ll be working with a team of four people from TOM.”

TOM Melbourne director Debbie Dadon said she was looking forward to seeing the final products.

“We are extremely excited about the upcoming TOM: Melbourne 2022 Makeathon and the prospect of working with our fabulous teams of Makers and Need-Knowers to design and create customised and affordable assistive technology,“ Ms Dadon said.

This year’s Makeathon is taking place on Saturday 17 September and Sunday 18 September at Monash University (Clayton Campus).

The intellectual property created for every product is shared through open-source Digital Product Files, so other Makers around the world can create solutions for Need-Knowers in their own communities as there is no cost for the IP.

TOM originated in Israel in 2014. The phrase Tikkun Olam roughly translates to repairing the world and the first Melbourne event was in 2016.

TOM has established over 70 communities in over 20 countries and TOM’s Makers have created more than 400 unique solutions for Need-Knowers around the globe.