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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Robot helps seniors tour Tweed museum, from home

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Entertainment in the Byron Shire and Beyond

A huge amount of entertainment all crammed into one space.

The ‘Wheel-I-Am’ interactive robot (an Ipad mounted ona Segway base) gave a virtual tour of the Tweed Regional Museum in Murwillumbah yesterday for residents of the Feros aged-care facility at Wommin Bay, Kingscliff, 25 kilometres away. Photos Jeff ‘Dawson

Luis Feliu

Residents at Kingscliff’s Feros Care Village in Wommin Bay yesterday toured the Tweed Regional Museum in Murwillumbah, but some didn’t even have to travel the 25 kilometres to get there.

While around a dozen residents of the aged-care facility were taken by bus to the refurbished museum for a tour,  others back home at the village viewed the exhibitions through the eyes of a robot.

The virtual tour is one way the village is trying to keep seniors socially connected using technology so residents who are less mobile and unable to go on social outings can still be part of the fun.

The ‘telepresence robot’ is an iPad mounted on a miniature Segway base and known as the ‘Wheel-I-Am’ which can be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world over the internet and using a secure connection.

Chief executive officer of Feros Care, Jennene Buckley, said it was ‘another way of ensuring that our residents feel connected and are included. The reality is that some residents won’t be able to attend this event due to health or mobility issues’.

The residents at the village talked with their friends while virtually experiencing the museum, including the current exhibition celebrating the Anzac centenary entitled Fragments: Words of War, featuring diaries, letters, post cards and service records of World War I soldiers who have connections to the Tweed.

Some operated Wheel-I-Am using the Ipad, seeing and hearing the interactive tour while talking to other villagers there, helped by a technical assistant from Feros responsible for the robot.

Ms Buckley said Wheel-I-Am will join the many other virtual technologies Feros Care has developed over the past three years that support clients in the community care and residential care settings to stay connected.

Another program, My Health Clinic At Home, enables people to have their health and vital signs monitored daily and from their own home, using a simple touch screen computer.

Tweed links to Gallipoli

Meanwhile, the Fragments: Words of War exhibition has seen the museum’s collection of Gallipoli memorabilia increase.

Museum director Judy Kean said the collection includes original diaries with their transcripts, trench art and other memorabilia.

‘I was moved by the stark contrast the diaries document between an often mundane daily routine, and the tragedy and horror that were part and parcel of fighting in WWI,’ Ms Kean said.

The exhibition includes the diary of Sapper John Edward ‘Bluey’ Gray, which covers his time in Belgium at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

‘While he seldom breaks from a factual listing of events, when he does, his words are powerful,’ she said.

‘On 11 August 1917, after describing the beautiful countryside, he remarks: “aeroplane activity and aircraft guns, with big guns and bombardment, always keeps one(s) mind centred on the fact that a few miles on from this village, the fiercest war in history is in process. And later, Hell, murder and destruction and all for what?”‘

Also featured in the exhibition is Sapper Hubert Lawrence ‘HL’ Anthony, who enlisted at 17 and served at Gallipoli then settled in the Tweed in 1919 on a Soldier Settler block. (Sapper Anthony then went on to become longtime MP for the federal seat of Richmond, so did his son Doug and more recently, grandson Larry).

The exhibition will be on from tomorrow, Anzac Day, from 10am-4pm, and throughout the year, with regular changes to the display of soldiers’ stories.

A World War I Memorabilia Day will be held at the museum on Saturday, 2 May, from 10am-4pm, when members of the public can access professional advice about how to care for family memorabilia and how to research war records online.



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