Since our Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced that the wearing of masks would be a legal requirement from Thursday 23 July 2020 for anyone over the age of 12 (some exemptions apply), some uneasiness was created within the disability community. This surrounds not only the wearing of masks for people with heightened anxiety and sensory difficulties, but the confusion and fear that seeing people everywhere with their faces covered may bring. Thankfully, the disability community works fast to support each other and there are many great resources out there to support people to understand the who, what, why, where and how of wearing a mask or face covering.

Our Recreation Services Team has put together a comprehensive social story as well as a one-page resource suitable for people of all ages and their families and support networks.

IOE social story – COVID-19-WEARING-A-FACE-MASK.pdf (88 downloads)
IOE one pager – WEARING-A-FACE-MASK.pdf (76 downloads)
IOE SUPER-HEROES-WEAR-MASKS.pdf (39 downloads) Social Story

Here are a few other resources we’ve found, thanks to Autism Little Learners. We suggest you take a look at each one and choose whichever social story would be most useful for your family or the person you are supporting.

Seeing Other People Wearing Masks – click here
What is Social Distancing – click here

There are also a range of great resources around about DIY masks. Some are as simple as four snips to an old (or new … ) sock! Getting people with extra worries involved in the process of making masks that’s just for them might help increase positive feelings around wearing a mask.  If you come across a resource or idea that might help others in the community, feel free to share it on the Interchange Outer East Facebook page.


Keep up-to-date. Read the latest news from IOE with the July 2020 edition of our monthly enewsletter.


I was told it was about time for another CEO’s blog and given a suggested topic:
What I’ve learnt living and leading an organisation through a global pandemic
Blimey, thanks Faye! OK, here goes. I have some rules which I stand by whenever something difficult comes up; and a global pandemic rates right up there as difficult!
  1. Find someone to blame
  2. Find someone else to follow it up
  3. Ignore it
However, a global pandemic, creates some specific challenges to this approach. First, there is no-one to blame (in spite of ‘stupid‘ blaming everybody). Secondly, we literally all have to address this and finally, it’s very hard to ignore!
So with great reluctance I have sort of had to do stuff and yes, I have learned some things:
  1. There is a real problem having your pantry and fridge within a few steps of your workplace;
  2. Zooming with children can make you motion sick;
  3. Our dog has developed an over attachment disorder;
  4. Without driving to work my podcast library is out of control;
  5. People have learned to appreciate the art of walking; and
  6. This room needs a paint!
Beyond that, living with and leading an organisation through a global pandemic is really the same approach people should have to living and leading an organisation without a global pandemic. So here are my Rules for Life; Pandemic Edition:
  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Find people who are smarter than you and work with them.
  • Understand what may happen, what the issues are, and what is most important.
  • Appreciate that people will respond in many different ways.
  • Act in good faith.
Whatever actions are decided upon ensure that they meet the following three criteria – be kind to all people, protect those that are vulnerable and be fair. Ultimately if you follow this approach you will get most things right and those that you stuff up – own it, apologise, fix what you can and move on.
Strange and significant events have occurred and will occur again. The strength of an organisation like Interchange Outer East is always going to be the collective team of people who work together to support families and each other through any disruption. Leadership is the process of allowing that to happen.



The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has published the NDIS Price Guide and Support Catalogue 2020‒21, effective 1 July 2021.

For most participants, families and organisations, making sense of changes and updates is a daunting task. Disability Services Consulting has done a lot of the hard work and has released a Price Guide series of articles to help you navigate the changes and how they may affect your plans and supports from 1 July.  Click here to read it.


Interchange Outer East recognises the challenges that the LGBTQIA+ community faces and the positive contribution LGBTQIA+ people make within our communities. To assist in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, IOE has appointed Recreation Coordinator Jesse Baker as the LGBTQIA+ Development Worker.Jesse Baker - IOE LGBTQIA+ Development Worker

This role will include:
  • Ensuring that IOE is a welcoming and inclusive community for people with diverse sexual and/or gender identification and orientation.
  • Providing educational awareness to the IOE community. This can be in the form of training sessions, workshops, displaying information and social media marketing.
  • Creating opportunities for any person in the IOE community that identifies as LGBTQIA+ or who is interested in learning more.
  • Creating ongoing and sustainable connections. This includes working collaboratively with other community support services and organisations which support young people with diverse sexual and/or gender orientation.
  • To be a representative from IOE that can provide members of the IOE community with information, resources and referrals.
  • To invite members of the IOE community to form a reference group*. This group will determine ways those who have diverse sexual and/or gender identification and orientation feel included and welcomed as well as develop ideas for future engagement.

Are you a member of the IOE community who hasn’t taken our LGBTQIA+ development survey yet? We’d love your input and it will only take 5-10 minutes.

To discuss LGBTQIA+ development at IOE, or for more information or referrals, contact Jesse on 9758 5522, 0400 918 493 or by email at jesse.baker@ioe.org.au

*Click the LGBTQIA+ development survey to express your interest.


The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services found a long history of widespread abuse and neglect of people with disability. The Inquiry determined that more effective safeguards and oversight measures were needed to ensure disability workers deliver high quality care. In August 2018, the Victorian Parliament passed the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018 to improve the quality of disability care and service standards across the community. The Act established the Disability Worker Regulation Scheme with approved accreditation standards and an approved Code of Conduct for unregistered disability workers.

‘Interchange Outer East looks forward to working with the Victorian Government to support the Scheme, in addition to continuing our stringent staff recruitment and development processes towards a safer community for people with disability.’ said Lauren Timmerman, IOE Quality Coordinator.

The scheme starts on 1 July 2020 and forms part of the Victorian Government’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the abuse of people with disability.

The disability worker regulation scheme aims to:
  • ensure workers have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications to provide quality services
  • stop people who pose a serious risk of harm from providing disability services in Victoria
  • enable people with disability to exercise greater choice and control in their lives, and
  • ensure people with disability receive high quality services.

The Disability Worker Regulation Scheme involves the regulation of registered and unregistered disability workers in Victoria.

The Scheme will apply to all disability workers in Victoria. Registration will be voluntary for disability workers and the conduct of registered workers will be regulated. Unregistered workers will be required to abide by a Code of Conduct.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has decided to delay the commencement of voluntary worker registration until 1 July 2021. The other components of the scheme will commence on 1 July 2020, including complaints and notifications about the conduct of disability workers, and the Code of Conduct. After that time, the Commission can receive complaints about any registered or unregistered disability worker in Victoria.

To find out more about the Disability Worker Regulation Scheme, including fact sheets and information for service providers, workers and people with disability and their families & carers, visit the Victorian Disability Worker Commission website.


Keep up-to-date. Read the latest news from IOE with the June 2020 edition of our monthly enewsletter.


I wear multiple hats around Interchange Outer East (IOE). I’m a recreation coordinator, working mainly in the GAP Programs (Group After-Hours Programs), mum of a junior support worker, mum of a participant and Mumma Fish; general supporter of many!

When the government announced the COVID-19 lockdown, like most of us, I was really worried how we would cope. Two parents attempting to work from home, a student doing year 12 and a student who needed pretty much full support in his special ed remote schooling. My son Lachie has a primary diagnosis of autism and has a variety of other diagnoses kicking around.

As we began to try and find a new normal, online recreation programs began to pop up at IOE. I initially dismissed them as I didn’t think Lachie would engage online and it all just seemed too difficult. As time progressed, we were struggling to fill his day and a few options appeared that I thought he might enjoy; specifically sensory play and Online Lego Club. I took a big deep breath and decided to give it a go. After all, what could go wrong?

With the support of some exceptional support workers, making this decision has opened a whole new world for Lachie. He engages fully during his time on the sessions. He has made new friends who he talks about often and he has been so excited to see some of his old friends and support workers. Lachie has a significant speech delay and so finds verbal communication difficult. Thankfully, this has not prevented him participating in these groups.

I am biased; I work for IOE and I am part of the Recreation Services Team who have put these programs together. That being said, I have been so thrilled to see the difference these programs are making in our family’s life. I think IOE has done a great job with Specialist Services and the Recreation Services Teams in delivering great programs while working around tight restrictions.

My encouragement to families is to perhaps give online recreation a go. There continues to be opportunities to try. If you are concerned about it, please talk to a member of the Recreation Services Team. We’d love to work with you to find a solution to support your loved one to participate positively.

If you’d asked me at the start of lockdown if this would have happened for us I would have given you a firm no – but I’m so grateful we gave it a go!

By Fiona Fisher, IOE parent and Recreation Services Team member