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



Keeping active has been proven to benefit not only physical health but also emotional health and overall well-being.

That’s why Interchange Outer East is continuing to be pro-active by providing ever-increasing opportunities for children, adults, parents and carers to participate in regular exercise activities.

Our Sport for Fun program has been running for a number of years now. It has been so successful that we now have sessions for different age groups operating from three separate venues across the outer east. Sport for Fun is inclusive, fun and affordable. It is all about having fun in a totally non-competitive environment and is a great way for children ( 8 +) , teens and adults to play a bit of sport, socialise and stay active. Check out the flyer for session venues, days, times and costs and registration.

Why let the kids and teens have all the fun. This past year we have introduced a whole lot of new ways carers and parents can also get active.

Fancy a game of table tennis or badminton? Come along to our Carer Social Sport program for a hit, a cuppa and a chat every Thursday from 10am-12pm at Insportz in Lewis Rd, Wantirna South. It’s very casual, it’s free and there is no need to register – just come along when you can. View the flyer and share it with your friends and other carers.

From July to September we are running an inaugural Active Carers program at Aquanation in Ringwood, especially for carers. Why not give Pilates a go each Monday from 1pm-2pm. It’s a great low impact way to exercise your body, strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility and posture.  Or maybe Aqua Aerobics is more/also your thing. Come along and join a session every Wednesday from 12.30pm-1.30pm. Supported by the warm water, you will hardly even realise you are exercising and doing yourself so much good. Cost for each Active Carers session is $5. Book your spot at Download and share the flyer.

The most recent addition to our fitness programs is Friday Social Sport, held every Friday 5pm-6pm at Croydon Indoor Sports Centre in Canterbury Rd, Kilsyth. Every family member (12+) is welcome to get involved. No coaching or support is provided and cost is just $5. Friday Social Sport is all about getting active and having fun while playing a bit of casual soccer, netball, cricket or whatever takes our fancy on the night! Contact IOE 97585522 to let us know you are coming.

So … lots of ways to stay active, get fit, be social, have fun and improve your physical and mental health. Get involved!!


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




In the late 1990s I attended a wonderful recreation group for young adults with disabilities, through Interchange Outer East (IOE).

I was with Group 2 along with Ben, Karin, Bradley, Nicole, and Bronwyn. Occasionally we would combine with Group 1 who were Daniel, Travis, Naomi, Nikita, Paul, Tanya, and Shelly .

In many ways I think these groups were ahead of their time, being some of the first groups to promote and embrace social & community inclusion. This philosophy didn’t come in officially as an industry trend until the early 2000s.

Group 2 had two dynamic and selfless leaders, Belinda and John. John shared his name with a former Victorian Premier, and perhaps also he may have made an interesting politician. He could spin a yarn at the drop of a hat – luckily he hardly wore one!

John could talk about anything, from making terracotta pots in Bendigo, to the intricacies and beauty of Australian bird life (as in animals, not humans!). He is a retired army soldier who had a rich heart and a solid value system for the rights of the ‘under dog’. He could add great colour to epic tales. John was quite well read, with a diverse knowledge of country Victoria, and popular culture. I would often delight in calling John ‘Grandpa’ and would give him a invisible walking stick.

Belinda is a compassionate woman, who believes wholeheartedly in equality for people with disabilities – and told it like it was. She has extensive knowledge of the disability field, and is extremely well traveled.

Belinda placed great importance on the role of family, and sometimes reminded us of the roleour parents have in our lives. Looking back, I can see how one could underestimate the wisdom and knowledge of our parents and siblings in most families. IOE has always been big on reminding people of this. I think sometimes people with disabilities forget that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

I had already known some of the people in our group as they transitioned with me from a youth group run by IOE. Each person added their own unique flavour to the group dynamics.

Ben – Lewis Carroll eat your heart out! Ben would often let out massive quantities of methane gas in the bus Friday nights! He would dance his heart out at the pub on a Saturday, and often say “Look in my eye. What do you see ?” I thought this was quite profound, as it forces the other person to look at who he really is. He would also say “Good night world”, and wake people up 15 hours before sunrise! I know this from sharing cabins with him on many camps.

Karin – Karin would often “take a ride on the wild side…” apologies to Lou Reed . She made sure she was having a good time, and letting her hair down (or up).

Bradley – There was Bradley who often insist on buying everyone else a 30 cent McDonald’s cone, even if we slap bang in the middle of a field of cows, nowhere near McDonalds. He liked to talk about God, and his devotion to the Hawks football club.

Bronwyn – enjoyed checking out the guys, and took on a nurturing role towards everyone else in the group. She has a great zest for life.

Nicole – liked to party, party, party! And also enjoyed checking out the boys with Bronwyn. Nicole was incredibly social and friendly..

Last of all, there was me! Who would often play the court jester, so I could mask my social insecurities, and would laugh spontaneously. Group 2 reminded me about tolerance towards others. It helped me orientate myself in unfamiliar areas, and widen my interest beyond music and movies. It helped me grow and evolve as a more mature person.

Some of my highlights during my years with the group were – having my first beer at age 17 (apologies to the police), going on a joy flight over Mildura, a speed boat ride with the wind sailing through my hair and watching the water rippling past, walking over to Seal Rocks  at Phillip Island in my manual wheelchair, and then John carrying me up the stairs to the rocks (breaking several OHS rules – oops!), 4 wheel driving at Yaark with it’s beautiful bushland, seeing Bicentennial Man the movie at Crown Casino and pissing my pants with laughter at Robin Williams brilliant portrayal of a robot with human emotions. At the time one of the quotes from the movie resonated with me “You can’t invest your emotions in a machine”. Some other activities I enjoyed were a gender-bender theme night on a P&O cruise, and walking through snow in Mansfield.

All these memories are engraved upon my heart forever.

I am thankful to this group.

Joel Barraud

Joel has dedicated this article to Travis, sadly no longer with us but remembered with great fondness by all who knew him.


Interchange Outer East’s hosting program brought together hosts, Jo, Trevor and their family and eight year old Indianna.  A lovely friendship has developed with Indi fitting right in with her host family. The following article was recently  published in the Eastern Volunteers newsletter.


‘Jo and her family have been hosting Indi for around a year, allowing the two families to build a friendship. ‘The girls will go off and play and we’ll sit and talk for hours,’ Jo said of the times that Indi is dropped off for the weekend.

Being a couple of years older than Jo and Trevor’s eldest daughter, Florence, Indi has taken to the big sister role naturally. When she grows out of her dress ups she hands them down for Florence and Olive, Jo and Trevor’s younger daughter, to enjoy.  She generously buys gifts with her tooth fairy money and plays with the girls when Jo takes time out for baby Herbie.

Jo says that Indi is very comfortable in their home, as is Indi’s brother Zac who is always welcome too.

“Indianna loves going to play with the girls. Her eyes light up when we ask if she would like to go visit the girls and Herbie. We love Trevor and Jo too. They are very open and friendly and they have helped us out so much.” – Jodi, Indi’s mum.

While it can be difficult for the two busy families to find time to catch up, there is no pressure and both families are happy to remain flexible to keep the connection going as the children grow.

Hosting is for everyone; singles, couples, families. It’s volunteering with a difference that makes a difference!’


Hosting opportunities are very flexible and can range from sharing a few hours with a young person with a disability to a  full weekend of support.   Hosts take on a variety of roles from second family, to mentor, friend or buddy who shares interests and experiences with the young person.

If you would like to find out more about how you can be a part of Interchange Outer East’s hosting program please contact 0397585522  or email

We look forward to hearing from you!


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


One of the things that makes Interchange Outer East different from other disability support organisations is our focus on Family Support.

As Interchange Outer East has grown, developed and diversified, the focus on supporting families has remained at the core. Family support is the all- important building block upon which all other services of IOE have grown.

Our Family Support programs focus on the needs of families caring for children and young people with a disability. Family Support’s aim is to enhance family well-being through the development and coordination of programs and services for carers and their families in a safe and secure environment.

Over the years IOE has consulted with families to understand what types of support best meet their needs. Addressing these needs is often challenging, however as an agency IOE strives to meet them. The supports families consistently seek and those which guide our family services are:
• Being able to share feelings and experiences with other parents / siblings
• Information that is good, accurate and useful
• To know that someone cares and help is available when needed
• To be able to do the things that other families can do
• Safety and security for their child/children

There are two major beliefs that guide IOE’s approach to family support. We believe that families of people with disabilities deserve community support and assistance, and that their best support is often other families who understand their journey and the challenges they face. Family camps and days, sibling program, carers programs, social support programs for Mums, Dads and Grandparent carers, all give family members and carers the opportunity to come together with others who have empathy with their life situation. They make a stronger and more connected community which has disability as its common factor.

We believe it is imperative to support families because:
1. The longest and most secure relationship that people have is usually with their families
2. People with disabilities are best supported when their family has the tools, resources and assistance needed
3. Families of people with disabilities have the right to dream, plan and achieve their goals as all other families do

The introduction of the NDIS has posed many problems in regard to the support needs of families, as the NDIS philosophy is solely focused on the individual with a disability.

This has largely come out of the political campaign that launched the NDIS to prominence. Dominated by people without cognitive disabilities, the design and the development of the NDIS came out of the advocacy of these groups. As such the scheme has never come to grips with the crucial role of families in the scheme. This has led to many instances where carer supports and family based services just cease once NDIS comes into the picture.

That is why, in contradiction to the NDIS philosophy, IOE believes that the focus for our service should be on the family as a whole. All members of a family are affected and engaged in the support of a person with a disability. As such, we believe it is essential to consider the needs of the whole family to provide an effective service which will bring about the best support outcomes.


Well the dust has well and truly settled since we arrived back from Japan in April, but that doesn’t mean that the trip isn’t still on our minds. We crammed so much into our trip that we only recount a handful of the unique experiences in such a short post.

We spent the first five nights in Tokyo, navigating the bright city lights of Shinjuku, exploring ‘electric city’ in Akihabara, dining at the Monster Cafe in Harajuku, cuddling the hedgehogs at a Hedgehog and Otter Cafe, visiting Tokyo Disneyland (the happiest place on Earth) and watching the robots battle it out at the famous Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. All that said, perhaps the highlight of Tokyo was watching us all struggle to navigate the infamous Shinjuku Train Station – the busiest train station in the world – which has over 200 exits that managed to confuse us each and every time that we visited.

We also took a brief day trip out of Tokyo to visit Mount Fuji, where we saw sunshine, rain, hail, fog and snow all in one day. After Tokyo we spent a few nights in Okayama, and from there we visited the beautiful city of Hiroshima for an emotional day of history, and the Teshima Art Island, for a truly unique experience of Japanese architectural and landscape art. From Okayama we caught the Shinkansen (Japanese fast train) to Kyoto, where we spent the rest of our trip in a traditional town house. In Kyoto we viewed the stunning cherry blossoms at their best, visited the traditional town of Nara (and their wild deer), walked through the Fushimi Inari Shrine, spent a day at the stunning Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and discovered the thrills of the late night Karaoke bars.

All in all it was a trip that none of us will forget.

Beau Deurwaarder

IOE’s  Supported Holiday Program for 2020 will be advertised soon. Keep watch, so you too can explore the world with this exciting program.