Support for our Siblings Program continues to spread throughout the Freemasons lodge network.

On Thursday, 13 September, IOE siblings program coordinator, Jenna Tatterson, was invited to attend the Annual Charity Night of Lodge of Australia Felix No 1 in Box Hill. Interchange Outer East was one of three lucky charities who were the beneficiaries of the Lodge’s fundraising efforts for the year. IOE was nominated for support by Lodge of Australia W.m. Thomas Mikeska, who had heard about the sibs program through fellow lodge and long –time Sibs supporters Freemasons Monash Gully.

Jenna’s presentation to the assembled Lodge members, wives and guests highlighted the far-reaching benefits of our program for siblings of children with disabilities. IOE has been running a program for siblings since 1990. In 2010 it came to the attention of Freemasons Victoria and local lodges, whose generous ongoing financial support over the years has enabled the program to grow, going from strength to strength and providing support, friendship and fun for an increasing number of siblings of children with disabilities.

Jenna accepted a presentation cheque for $1000 on behalf of IOE’s Sibling Program, with the Lodge pledging to match that amount, bringing their total donation to $2000.

Thank you to the Lodge members for their fundraising efforts and generous support.

Take a look at the video which celebrates 28 years of Sibling Support with some impressive stats!



On Sunday 9 September an excited group of participants from IOE’s Lilydale program donned their Sunday best and headed to Government House for the presentation of the Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards. The group of five, Ben H, Terrie M, Sarah W, Dominique R and Josh H represented the PAG cooking program group who had been nominated for the voluntary role they have played in providing healthy freshly-cooked meals for isolated seniors in the Yarra Junction area.

260 nominations resulted in 45 successful award recipients on the day, representing a variety of commendable endeavours throughout the state.

‘It was a really special day. We were particularly proud to receive the recognition’ said Jessica D who runs the meals program “We were the only disability group, so it was just about the amazing voluntary contribution the group has made to the elderly citizens of the Yarra Valley. The elderly citizens were originally all Italian, so we often cook Italian style food for them. They love it and think our food is much better than the meals on wheels they used to get!’

The IOE group was nominated for the award by the Shire of Yarra Ranges Volunteer Coordinator in recognition of their volunteer contribution. The award was presented by The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and was accepted by Terri M on behalf of the group. All the participants received certificates and badges for their achievement. Following the ceremony refreshments were served in the garden and pictures were taken, with everyone enjoying the vibe of the day and being the centre of attention.

In the program for the awards, under the heading ‘Teamwork’ the IOE Meals team’s contribution was received the following praise ‘Thanks to the initiative and cooperation of this group of eight young volunteers with a disability, isolated seniors now connect every week in Yarra Junction over a healthy freshly cooked meal. Food aside, the greatest benefits for young and old are lasting intergenerational friendships, sharing of stories and the confidence gained through building community connections.’

Well done to you all!



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



Once upon a time a young girl called Dorothy woke up in a land called Oz, filled with strange little people, talking scarecrows, cowardly lions and tin men. Over the weekend past, The MISFIT project, which has a long association with IOE, held it’s performances of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and took many audience members on that journey with Dorothy; but this story isn’t hers. It’s the story of Jen the giant Munchkin.

Sometimes we can need a bit of support to be a part of our community, and this was the case for a young girl called Semina, who decided over a year and a half ago that she wanted to join her local theatre group, MISFIT Juniors. Semina requires a fair bit of support with communication, as she has very limited verbal communication and thus requires support for interacting with her peers.

In Feb 2017, over a year and a half ago, Semina and her support worker Jen joined the group. At first it wasn’t easy, but Jen didn’t give up, she kept persisting, finding new ways to show others how to interact, finding ways to adapt activities to work for Semina and joining in, regardless of how silly she might feel or look, she kept persisting and we all at MISFIT are so glad she did.

Over the weekend past we had our performances of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and seeing the seamless way Jen joined in, singing, signing and dancing. Supporting not just Semina, but many others in the group to feel confident and comfortable out on the stage. Jen wasn’t just supporting the actors, she was one of the actors, playing a Munchkin, a flying monkey and Oz City girl. She joined in with everything and is always willing to learn and try new things.

Both Semina and MISFIT have been incredibly lucky to have Jen as a part of the group. She is a true example of how consistent support and being inclusive can help change people’s lives and support them find a place to belong in their own community.

Sarah Ward  MISFIT CEO/Creative Director


Last Sunday we took five wonderful children out to the movies on a recreational activity. We had the whole cinema to ourselves and the children took full advantage spreading themselves out.

During the break Austin, Jacob and Ace took to the slide (yes you read correctly, there is in fact a giant indoor slide inside the cinema) and plummeted down as fast as lightening. Thank goodness Ace had the sense to allow me to go with him, whereas Jacob and Austin zoomed down unaccompanied. I was sure Austin was going to go straight through the cinema screen as he jolted head first out of the slide. Expecting to have to fill in an incident report I called out to our vollies, Maddy and Debbie, only to be greeted with the biggest grin I’ve seen on Austin’s face. He survived to tell the tale and he was thrilled!

The movie finished but the slide was still the highlight for the three boys. We left to have lunch at Jells park where Lily, Jacob and Ace had a go on the Liberty swing.  Caleb kept himself busy running around the park and Austin played cricket with me in the sunshine.

We finished off our day at Timezone, which felt like a trip to Vegas with all the bright lights. All five children spent time wandering around picking out the games they wanted to play. Caleb was in his element and it was like all his Christmases had come at once, so many games and not enough hands to play them all.

Austin lived over at the basketball hoops while Lily and Ace smashed out a few tunes on the giant piano keys. Jacob loved the space ship ride and we didn’t see much of him once he found the spaceship to hide in.

Overall Brad and I had a wonderful day with some overly happy young children who weren’t afraid to give new things a try. We thank their families for trusting us to take them out, we loved every minute of their company.

Jeanne Smith Rec Leader

… and a comment on the day from a participant’s parents

‘I just wanted to write an email commending Jeanne and Brad for the wonderful activity Ace attended today.

The way in which they greeted my son and the knowledge they had about him was unparalleled and I felt so comfortable leaving him in their care for the day. When I returned to pick Ace up they both went out of their way to explain the type of day he had and the fact that they got him out of his wheelchair for most of the day was just wonderful.

I cannot commend them or thank them enough, they are by far the best leaders I have encountered and I really look forward to Ace being part of one of their recreational activities again one day.

Many thanks’     Bianca B parent

baby goods for needy families


The partnership between Interchange Outer East and the St Kilda Mums project is continuing to have positive outcomes for all involved. Not only are needy families being supported but IOE’s adult service participants are learning skills and valuable lessons about how their volunteering contribution is making a difference to others.

Based in St Kilda, the not for profit organisation re-homes new and pre-loved baby goods, books, clothing and nursery equipment to families in need all over Melbourne. Run by volunteers it relies on donations from community members, businesses and organisations. Working together with existing social service agencies and maternal health workers who determine families in need right across Melbourne, St Kilda Mums have been collecting, sorting and redistributing baby and children’s goods since 2009.

The partnership was formed in 2016 and has been a great opportunity for IOE’s Adult Service participants to learn new work skills, develop new relationships and feel directly connected to the people they are helping. Participants have gained enormous satisfaction and increased self-esteem, from the voluntary work they do cleaning, repairing and delivering loads of prams and baby goods ready for distribution to families!

All goods that are redistributed must be in very good condition and adhere to the appropriate Australian Safety Standards. At the St Kilda Mums depot, we’ve developed such a reputation for the high standard and condition of our goods that they are no longer checked but sent out immediately to recipients!

The IOE crew have now gone from just delivering the completed goods to St Kilda to actually being invited to work directly with the organisation at their depot one day a week. This is a big step up and is testimony to the team’s work and volunteering ethic. They are certainly appreciated for their commitment to the project and it has been particularly heart-warming to see the relationships and understanding that have developed between our team and their co-volunteers. An example of this is that one of the young men from IOE is more comfortable doing his work outside, so St. Kilda mums have provided him with an environment which caters specifically to his needs!

IOE is a drop off point for donations of baby goods and equipment, and thanks to the generosity of both the local and IOE communities, there is always a mountain of goods ready for the crew to wash, fold, clean and sort. The quality and amount of goods that people donate is amazing and IOE would like to sincerely thank the many people who donate their no longer needed items so that other families in need may benefit.

IOE is thrilled to be able to support this amazing organisation and hopes to become even more involved in the future.

For more information about the St. Kilda Mums visit their website

Check out the video of the IOE crew talking about St Kilda Mums, reinforcing the message of the current Interchange campaign showing the contribution people with disabilities can make through volunteering.


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


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