mums group outing


Our IOE Mums Social Support outings keep on with the good times for our fun loving ladies.

Last Sunday’s outing was no exception. In spite of the weather (rain, clear, showers, rain) and the tide being too high for our ferry to get under the Yarra bridges, so adding significant walking distance to our boarding berth and considerable time to our  overall schedule, everyone managed to have a good time. Just being able to relax, take time just for yourself (with no children around) and in sociable company makes for a great day!

Unfortunately, because of the bad weather the Williamstown market was just about packed up by the time we arrived. But, prior to ferry departure we fitted in a good browse of the wonderful Southbank Sunday market while some had a bit of a peek at the NGV’s amazing Triennial exhibition.

Still, the fish and chips for lunch were excellent and the inclement weather meant we had plenty of time to chat while sheltering from the rain, giving our new ladies a chance to get to know the ‘regulars’.

Things don’t always go to plan and this was one of those times!

So far this year we’ve had outings to Moonlight Cinema, Yarra Junction’s Blue Lotus Gardens, Akmal at the Comedy Festival and Williamstown with a variety of activities and venues still to come. Our monthly outings always take us to somewhere different and doing different things – so there is always something for everyone.

So ladies, if you’d like a bit of a break and some important time to recharge, socialise and have fun we would love you to join us on Mums Social Support!

Check out the program for this term and apply at


Alex is an IOE mum with two boys on the autism spectrum, who describes the autism journey as ‘very close to her heart’. She and her family have been a part of the IOE community for a number of years and have been attending the Different Journeys  ASD teen social events since the program’s inception.

‘I walked on behalf of Different Journeys as part of of the April ‘Walk for Autism’ campaign to raise money for Autism Spectrum Australia. The basic requirement was to walk 10,000 steps a day (roughly 6kms) for 8 days. I knew that would not be difficult for me so I upped that target to 15-20kms a day. I happily achieved that target by walking 193kms over the 8 days and raising just over $800 on behalf of Different Journeys – well over my original expectations. My son Thomas and I finished our walk on Sunday by walking from our house in Wantirna to Club Kilsyth (the venue for our monthly meeting) where we had dinner with the Different Journeys ASD support group. A fitting finish to our fundraising efforts.

My boys love going to Different Journeys social group each month and my husband I love going and interacting with the other parents and carers for a relaxed evening. We have been going since the very beginning when there probably were only about 10 teenagers. It has been an overwhelming success and the group now has roughly 100 people attend each month. It is a busy night, but everyone loves it and the night is so much fun for everyone.’   Alex E

If you would like to add to Alex’s fundraising total and support Autism Australia , she is still accepting donations via her fundraising page:


Different Journeys, which is auspiced by IOE, has just been awarded a significant funding boost of $100,000 by the Victorian Government.

Starting off as an avenue for social support for ASD teens and their families over two years ago, Different Journeys quickly extended its program to support young adults as well. Encouraged by the support of their ASD community, Different Journeys has taken on an advocacy and awareness role, seeking the support of other organisations and individuals to help spread their message.

They have been very active in their advocacy and networking and earlier this year were invited to speak about Different Journeys with the Parliamentary Secretary for Carers, Gabrielle  Williams, along with representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mel Spencer, co-founder of Different Journeys, said ‘It was a great opportunity and we were grateful to them for giving us their valuable time to hear all about Different Journeys and what we are accomplishing. Gabrielle took note of what we told her and subsequently appealed to the Minister for Disability in Parliament, which also raised the profile of our program.’

Mel also participated in four of the five Autism State Plan consultations which resulted from the parliamentary inquiry into services within the autism community

The Victorian government committed $22 million dollars to improving services and outcomes for Victorians living with autism. Part of this money was used to significantly boost the funding of five advocacy and support groups, one of which was Different Journeys. The remainder of the funds is being used in the development of a comprehensive Autism Plan to improve inclusion, support and services.

Mel said ‘We are really grateful for this fantastic support and are currently in the process of working out the best ways to allocate the money for maximum benefit but it certainly makes for exciting times ahead!’

To find out more about Different Journeys check out their website

What families attending the Different Journeys social groups say:

‘Being introduced to Different Journeys teen dinner has changed my son’s social life. It is a space where he can be 100% himself and enjoy the company of this extremely inclusive community.’

‘Different Journeys allows people to just be teens and young adults for an evening – making friends, socialising, learning to get along and developing a sense of identity and resilience without it feeling like therapy.’

‘Our daughter loves attending the monthly teen dinners, it has made such a difference to her outlook on life. Her wellbeing and self-image have gained a huge boost through finding a community where she feels she belongs. She has made friends and now has the social life she’s always wanted. The dinners have also connected us with other like-minded parents; we have made our own new friends, ones who know the daily challenges our families face, and who can offer a sympathetic shoulder when needed. All in all, the teen dinners have benefited our entire family and increased our daughter’s quality of life tremendously. We could never thank D.J. enough’


Your Mind Matters, IOE’s contribution to Victorian Youth Week (13-22 April 2018), offered an insight into mental health issues experienced by youth.

Around 50 young people came along to the event to hear the stories of a number of young people from diverse situations who are dealing with their own mental health issues including depression, anxiety and extreme stress.

Individual stories and a meditation session were followed by a ‘truth and acceptance’ game run by Sarah Ward founder of the youth Misfit Project. The game aimed to get people to honestly own certain issues, therefore bringing them into the open and validating them and providing acceptance and recognition by the group.

Participants then took part in some sensory and mindfulness activities putting them in touch with different sensations and relaxation techniques.

The final session of the day consisted of a Q and A with a panel of six young people who gave intelligent and insightful answers which were informed by their own experiences of dealing with personal mental health issues. Questions revolved around such things as: starting the mental health conversation, advice for parents, how to support friends, taking care of yourself, recognising triggers and generally putting coping strategies in place.

The overwhelming message of the day was that, if you are experiencing mental health issues, you are not alone. Support keywords from the day were: listen, be there and validate. And for those experiencing issues: seek support, care for yourself, develop strategies and most importantly, remember mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of, don’t be afraid to bring them into the open!

A great event to raise awareness and provide support which was made possible through funding from the Victorian Government. .


Presented by Interchange Outer East in celebration of Victorian Youth Week (13–22 April), Your Mind Matters is a free event, for youth by youth, promoting mental health and wellbeing among our young people!

Get along to Bayswater Football Club on Friday 13 April from 10am to 2pm for a fun and informative day.  There will be a range of guest speakers, mindful and engaging activities, an all-in group picnic (BYO) and cold drinks available for purchase.

It’s a great opportunity to get together with your mates and invest some time in your (and their) mental health … because YOUR MIND MATTERS!

All family members are welcome too. This is a drug and alcohol free event

RSVP on 9758 5522 or email

This event is made possible by the Victorian State Government Youth Central and we are grateful to have their support!

View the flyer. Share it with your friends!

Yarraburn Adult Programs a Hit

IOE’s Yarraburn site is continuing to make life that little bit better for many Yarra Valley families.

One program that is really making a difference is the service Yarraburn provides for the area’s young adults with disabilities. With very few opportunities available for those who were no longer at school, IOE answered the need and started up a program, running three days of the week, which would provide opportunities for activity, skills development, independence and general wellbeing.

Each Monday during term, the focus is on health and fitness. The program is designed to challenge the physical limits of the group and push their comfort zone with activities such as caving, kayacking and climbing. Bit by bit fitness levels are improving to the extent that the group recently took part in a 10km community run to raise funds for the local CFA and SES. Testament to their improved fitness, they all completed the event! Parents too have remarked on the fact that their young adults are looking and feeling fitter, healthier and happier as a result of their intensive once a week fitness program.

The other two days of the service are taken up with running a small enterprise program and supporting participants to reach individual goals. The group learn skills to become job ready, make connections in their community and build their confidence and independence. One of the skills they have been learning is plant propagation and they have had the satisfaction of being able to successfully sell their plants at local markets. They are all buzzing with excitement at having a plant stand at the Yarra Valley’s upcoming Ectopia Festival which celebrates cultural diversity and sustainability.

Next thing on the list for Yarraburn to tackle is adult recreation – also sadly lacking in the Valley. Plans are in place for a once a month Saturday activity where a small group heads off to enjoy some of Melbourne and the Valleys many activities and events. And weekend camps are just over the horizon!

Currently there are still vacancies for Yarraburn’s adult services. Give them a call on 5967 2029 or email and see what they have to offer.


VYW Save The Date!

Friday 13 to Sunday 22 April 2018 is Victorian Youth Week (previously known as National Youth Week). It’s a time to celebrate youth and acknowledge their contribution and achievements.

For the past number of years IOE has been successful in obtaining a grant to assist with the running of an event to celebrate National Youth Week.  The week is all about youth, so who better to be our event organisers than our own volunteers! This year, once again, the focus of our event will be on raising awareness of youth mental health and wellbeing – a huge issue faced by so many of our young people.

Our event is planned for Friday 13 April from 10am ’til 2pm and will be held at the Bayswater Senior Footbball Club and grounds.

As well as having speakers and available information, there will be plenty of opportunity to get active or just chill out and socialise.

Bring your friends and family too!

Lock in the date and keep a watch on our website and facebook  for more details.




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