In late June my husband and I attended IOE’s Carers Retreat weekend at the RACV resort in Inverloch.

What a lovely break – definitely much needed!

This was IOE’s second Carers weekend, there was such positive and valuable feedback from the 2018 weekend that it was decided to do it again this year.

When we arrived late Friday afternoon there was already a large group sitting together in the bar/lounge area toasting their feet by the fire. The group was a real mix of IOE old regulars plus a number of carers who had met on the previous carer weekend or on family camp, as well as a couple of brand newies. It was a lovely welcoming way to start the weekend and get acquainted.

CEO Fred started off the weekend’s activities with a walk along the beach to a cave and back on the Saturday morning. Typical of Fred’s famous walks it went for much longer than planned so we missed the morning boxing sessions. Still the walk was well worth it, as it was a beautiful sunny morning and the beach was so peaceful – plus we had some exercise and the chance to walk off breakfast.

As many carers don’t really take good care of their health, the weekend aimed to offer lots of opportunities to get active in addition to socialising. In the afternoon there was yoga followed by outdoor games. As we were throwing beanbags, rolling boules and playing giant Connect 4 we could see the others sitting by that cosy lounge fire! Not to be deterred from playing tennis, Fred finally managed to rustle up enough people for a set of doubles. They warmed up on the court while a few of us headed to the indoor spa and sauna for a bit of pre-dinner luxury and relaxation.

Sitting around the tables at dinner was another chance to get to know others over a surprisingly good meal. Post-dinner entertainment was again theatre sports facilitated by The Misfit Project – they had rave reviews from the previous carers weekend. We rose to the challenges, did silly things, pushed our boundaries and tried to work collaboratively to come up with skit ideas. Lots of laughs. Looking around the room there seemed to be some pretty tired looking people. All that activity and the rare chance for many to have a night to themselves meant most headed back to their rooms for a sleep.

It would have been really good if we could have stayed one more day. My husband remarked that there was noticeable group camaraderie at breakfast on Sunday, which would have been good to build on throughout the day. Unfortunately we had to vacate rooms at 10am. Personally, we took advantage of every bit of our time away together and had a lovely day beach walking, watching the waves and sightseeing before heading back to reality.

The weekend gave so many carers the chance, not only to have a break and have fun, but to make connections and with others who understand their situation and are supportive.

Thanks IOE for believing families and carers matter and looking after us so well.

Sandra Leehy


☀TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE☀ for Interchange Outer East’s RISE Conference 2019.

With a fantastic line up of quality speakers RISE Conference is a fully catered, accessible and affordable event for the whole community. Everyone is welcome.

Speakers will engage the audience with stories of lived experience in disability to inspire, build resilience, educate and promote strategies for self care in even the most challenging circumstances.

When: Tuesday 15 October 2019 – 8.45am to 5pm
Where: 1330 Conference Centre & Cafe, Scoresby
Cost: $50 includes morning & afternoon tea and lunch plus a host of amazing speakers (free for IOE staff and volunteers)
BOOK ONLINE: bit.ly/IOERise2019

☀Important note: RISE Conference is FREE for Interchange Outer East staff (permanent & casual) and volunteers. To get your free ticket, contact Erin on 9758 5522 or erin.weegberg@ioe.org.au

If you are an IOE volunteer or staff member, please DO NOT book via the link above as you will be asked to pay the full ticket price.

Check out the speaker bios and conference updates at http://www.ioe.org.au/news-and-events/ioe-conference-rise/

*Unfortunately Moana Hope will no longer be presenting at our conference.

Please share this post with family, friends, professional networks and anyone else who may be interested!  All welcome.


My son Dylan, a 1:1 support worker and myself (husband was unable to make it) arrived at CYC Cowes on Friday evening ready to take part in our first IOE Family Camp.

On arrival we were greeted with a warm welcome and shown our accommodation. Our cabin was so much better than I expected, with one double bed and a few sets of bunks. It even had its own ensuite with separate shower and toilet.

In the morning all the families arrived for breakfast, which had been set up in the rec hall. After breakfast we were given an itinerary for the weekend ahead which was full of different activities to choose from.

My son chose to participate in crate climbing, for which he had to wear a safety harness. All the kids had so much fun! This was followed by a lot of smaller activities. My son particularly loved the massive swing that looked out over the ocean. In the afternoon there was archery and a family game of soccer.

There were a lot of activities happening during the day, some that my son didn’t participate in, but that was okay and we never felt pressured into doing something we didn’t want to do.

That evening we had tea and all special diets were catered for, so there was something for everyone.
Later that night Fred took us all on a beach tour in the dark (Fred’s night adventures are apparently legendary and an IOE tradition). My son especially loved that.

When the kids were all settled for the night I got to meet and have a talk with Fred (CEO) and Belinda, who is the IOE General Manager. They were both lovely down to earth people who made me feel very welcome.

The next morning after breakfast Fred had arranged a huge Easter egg hunt for the kids. They all LOVED it … more so the chocolate!

After that families started to pack up and leave at their own pace. We left at around 11am.

My overall thoughts and experiences of the weekend were really positive. It was so nice to be around other families who face our daily battles. We never once felt out of place or that we were being a nuisance or bothering anyone. It was a very comfortable atmosphere and we would definitely love to go on another IOE Family Camp.

Rebecca Halls – parent


Head to Chesterfield Farm with IOE for a fabulous fun evening to celebrate the end of 2018 and the start of the festive season.

Save the date and time! Saturday 8 December 5pm-8pm

It’s after the usual closing time so the farm will be just for us to enjoy. As well as all the animals, big and small, there will be special face painting, jumping castle, balloon creations, games and activities, including the famous tractor ride around the farm. Of course Santa will be there for ‘sensitive’ Santa Christmas photos (numbers limited).

EVERYONE IS WELCOME  Families – waiting for services, fully or partially registered with us – all families ; volunteers; staff and their families.


Registration is essential; online http://bit.ly/IOEXmas2018 or contact IOE 97585522 or ioe@ioe.org.au  And … remember to notify us of any dietary requirements for the BBQ.



After a bit of a break our support program for Grandparent Carers is up and running again.

Being a grandparent and caring for someone with a disability is a demanding double role and comes with unique challenges. IOE’s Grandparent Carer Program’s offers support by providing opportunities for older carers to socialise, network and share experiences with others in a similar care situation.

So … come along for a chat, a cuppa and a game of lawn bowls at the Yarra Junction Bowling Club on Wednesday 14 November from 10am – 12 noon. For $5 you’ll get a game of bowls plus a delicious morning tea.

Then, dig out those Christmas earrings and get ready to ho ho ho at the fabulous Zonzo Estate winery in the beautiful Yarra Valley on Wednesday 5 December from 12.30pm-2.30pm. Eat wood fired pizza, slow roasted lamb, potatoes and salad while taking in the stunning surrounds of the estate. All for just $25. What better way to celebrate Christmas and the end of the year!

Planning is already underway for next year and, starting in February, a re-vitalised program will bring even more interesting and relaxing outings to give our grandparent carers a welcome break and some time for themselves.

Take a look at the flyers for the remainder of the year’s activities, share them with others and don’t forget to rsvp to IOE 9758 5522 or family.support@ioe.org.au  Anyone who is a grandparent and caring for someone with a disability can join in the fun.


The past year has presented plenty of challenges and surprises. Overall, with most families now transitioned to the NDIS, we are satisfied with the way in which we, as a community, have responded and adjusted to the new and still developing systems and requirements. Whilst this has been a far from smooth process, the ability and capacity of the to adapt and develop new processes has been the silver lining.

We invite all members of the IOE community to join us at the agency’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) where we will discuss the year’s challenges and successes, hand down the 2017-18 Annual Report and elect the Board of Management for the coming year.

When: Tuesday 30 October from 7pm onwards
Where: IOE Keith Thornton Room  5-7 Yose Street Ferntree Gully
RSVP: to IOE 97585522  or email ioe@ioe.org.au
Supper provided so please advise any dietary requirements.

The AGM is an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the agency, to meet the Board of Management and to be further involved in what is a wonderfully supportive and welcoming community.

All welcome! 

Fred Brumhead   CEO Interchange Outer East


It’s happening again! Planning is underway for the annual Family Fun Day at Box Hill Miniature Steam Railway.

Save the date: Sunday 25 November from 11am – 4pm.

Expect all the favourite attractions and activities: train rides of course!; animal farm; jumping castle; magic show; facepainting; plus  food, drinks and showbags and much much more.

This is an annual event organised and run in partnership between IOE and the Rotary Club of Balwyn, with the support of a host of local individuals, businesses and community organisations.

Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun.

Register your interest at http://bit.ly/IOEFun2018



Following IOE’s recent inaugural Parent and Carers retreat, we received many messages of thanks from those who attended. Thank you to the Mezzalira family for sharing their thoughts.

‘We would like to thank Interchange Outer East, the management, sponsors and organisers for allowing us to attend the recent Carer’s Education Retreat at RACV Resort at Inverloch.

This was the first time my husband Roger and I have been away for more than one night from our son in 15 years!

It truly was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity for us to recharge our batteries. We had a wonderful time, we watched the eclipse of the moon at 5am, went for a scenic drive along the coast, had amazing breakfasts, relaxed in the lounge and went for a couple of scenic walks. We also met some really nice people, had wonderful food and had some hilarious fun at the Theatre Sports night. A fun night for sure.

Such a lovely venue, so suitable for this type of event. Loved the pillow menu too. Such a great experience and time away for all involved. We can’t wait for the next one, hopefully we can go again.

A truly rewarding experience for any Carer, so very much appreciated. Thank you again to all involved.’

Sue & Roger Mezzalira


…and a few more of the many comments received from parents and carers:

‘I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful Carers retreat! The activities offered were fantastic, the location was wonderful and the laughs had were all soothing for the soul. I met some new carers, had the opportunity to chat with carers I have crossed paths with before but never had long enough time because of our caring roles and enjoyed quality time with Shane. I appreciate all your hard work going in to organising such an event and also the time over the weekend you spent giving yourselves to others.’ Hannah L

Thank you SOOOO much IOE for a fabulous weekend! We had such a relaxing time & not only had some much needed couple time but also had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with an amazing group of people. Feeling very grateful & blessed’ Megan B

‘Thank you so much IOE for a great weekend. I sooo needed some time to just stop and relax. I got to spend some time with great friends, in a beautiful location and with lots of laughs’ Heather R

‘We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who may the retreat possible!!! My husband and I had the first break together without the kids in 18 years!!! Having two special needs children and my husband with complex needs, makes life hard. But like all other families, we just keep swimming. Having time to reconnect with my husband and meeting others who find themselves in a position similar to ours, made for a brilliant weekend!!! Thank you’ Kerryn L