I have been fortunate enough to be part of Interchange for twelve years now, and even after all that time I still feel blessed to be part of something which is much more than a ‘job’. Last week’s Adult Rec weekend was a testament to that.

Co-worker Naomi and I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with six of the kindest, friendly and fun loving young men that we have met through IOE. The boys let us tag along on their boys weekend, which saw us take a trip back in history; in terms of automobiles anyway. We had a car show weekend!

I’m sure if you were to ask any of the boys they would all tell you how exciting and interesting it was to see cars from the early 1900s through to today’s brand new mustangs. Brendan had his camera at the ready and went home with a lot of new cars to add to his photo collection.

We started off in Epping where we visited the local RSL. Over 30 cars were on display from Holdens to Corvettes and everything in between including my favourite, a Volkswagen Beetle. It was great having so much to see in the one spot. James was really keen to hop into almost all of them but, funnily enough, the owners had locked their car doors!.

Delicious local pizza for tea and some AFL on TV saw us end the Saturday evening relaxed. Sunday certainly didn’t disappoint with another car show extravaganza to get revved up about.

Kalorama CFA played host to well over a hundred cars, dating back to as early as 1906. Cars all shiny and looking their best from around the globe were spread across the Kalorama oval. For Luke the highlight was the very clean and expensive looking fire truck that was on display for everyone to admire. His admiration gained him a prime spot in the driver’s seat and CFA claimed a potential new volunteer. Anthony and Paul settled for the driver’s seat of a 1920s fire truck which, although much lower to the ground, would have no doubt been a very loyal companion to many fire fighters ninety odd years ago.  Lee Roy was a keen observer and made his way around the oval cutting several laps, eyeing off some very special looking post war vehicles.

The sun stayed shining and the boys kept smiling! All in all a really memorable weekend, one I will remember for a long time, another weekend to add to the collection of “I have the best job in the world”.

Jeanne Smith


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


Finding a job is a life goal for most young adults. Having a disability can make finding a job, or even exploring employment options, a daunting task.

IOE’s Prep 4 Work program utilises School Leavers Employment Supports (SLES) funding, a component of NDIS supports, to allow participants to explore opportunities for employment utilising their skills, gifts and interests. The program aims to provide an environment and opportunities whereby school leavers can learn the skills, ethics and practicalities to make them work ready. By providing experiences and practical support the program allows them to grow into their chosen work pathway.

The  program, which runs over two years, has both group based and individual components. Some of the areas covered are: self care; workplace expectations; travel training; work ethics; positive team work; task completion; time management; basic OH&S and safety skills. Resume writing, practical work experience, building communication skills and the gaining of qualifications through certified work education courses are just a few of the many activities which make up the program.

IOE believes that people with disabilities should be able to actively contribute to their community through work so the Prep 4 Work program will focus on open employment opportunities and experiences and providing the supports required for success.

To be eligible for Pre 4 Work young adults must have SLES funding included in their NDIS plan.

Beau Deurwaarder who supports the young adults on the Prep 4 Work program writes:
‘Prep 4 Work, through using SLES funding, helps young people develop the skills and confidence to find the right line of work for them. School leavers will receive individually tailored supports for up to two years that focus on improving employment opportunities and getting each participant to reach their goals.

Take a look at the top photo to see some of our eager future employees. What an exciting time to be young person at Interchange Outer East!’

IOE is always interested in hearing from any businesses who would like to provide employment opportunities and experiences for our young adults. Please contact our Adult Services team at ioe@ioe.org.au  It makes good sense to employ people with disabilities!  Click the button to find out why.


House Intensive has been a successful part of IOE’s Adult Services’ programming for a number of years now. With the aim of giving young adults with disabilities a taste of what it is like to live more independently, the intensive, which incorporates overnight stays, teaches a range skills in a real life environment. It teaches skills and gives participants practical experience in taking care of themselves, their ‘home’, shopping, budgeting, planning and in working and living collaboratively with others, away from the family home.

Multiple groups take part in House Intensive and programs are tailored to fit with the skills/goals/interests and capacities of each group.  Previously operating out of properties in the Yarra Valley, the program has now acquired two new rental properties in Chirnside Park and Scoresby. The group participants have been involved in setting up the new premises, promoting greater independence, stability and ownership. As in previous years, participants are rising to the many challenges they are facing with very positive results all round. Currently House Intensive operates on a one overnight stay basis during week days but plans are afoot for it to be extended to longer weekend stays.

Two support workers, Brooke and Maeve, who work with two of the groups share their experiences of the program.

‘The House Intensive is great program! As the name suggests, the program structure provides the participants with an intensive environment to work on strengths and develop new independent living skills of all levels.

Now with these new rentals, the groups have established a sense of home and ownership. The sleepover component and nurturing space allow the participants to develop routines and take pride in notable progress, as they work on completing daily tasks independently. The outcomes are not only notable during program time, but also within the family home, as reported back from parents/carers. As a Support Worker, I feel extremely fortunate to be working in a program, that celebrates such success.’  Brooke Fletcher

‘My group stays at the Chirnside Park house on a Tuesday through to Wednesday. Everyone has been getting to know each other since starting House Intensive in January. They work together as a team doing the grocery shopping and supporting each other. They have been practicing travel training – occasionally getting lost – and have been making some great connections in the local neighbourhood with shop keepers, bus drivers and neighbours.  Participants have also been looking at the community notice boards, keeping an eye out for voluntary work, and are currently filling out applications to walk elderly people’s dogs in the area.

Group members were involved in the set-up in the house too, purchasing lots of items for the house, which gave them a sense of ownership. This week we purchased a BBQ and we’re really excited to use it …  and maybe have a party in the future.’ Maeve Farrell

For more information about the programs offered by IOE’s Adult Services please contact ioe@ioe.org.au or go to http://www.ioe.org.au/services/adults/

A few comments from the Tues/Wed group:
Aaron: I love the house; it is way better than last years house in Warburton. The house is lovely; everything is nice and clean. We have been cooking dinner cleaning, watching movies at night time. I am enjoying making new friends and having company. Hot chocolate in the evening is good too.

Bron : I am loving my comfortable bed. The house is nice and I get good nights sleep. I enjoy cooking dinner, having facials, playing games with the group, Zumba at the house, shopping in Chirnside Park. I am enjoying getting to know people in my program. There is lots and lots of laundry.

Stephi: I enjoy doing Zumba at the house with the girls, having fun and laughs with the group. I am enjoying making new friends; Aaron is always making me laugh. I also like the cleaning.

Tiana: I like watching movies and TV at the house with the group in the evening. I have been practicing putting the sheet on my doona since starting House Intensive in Jan. I have struggled with this a bit. I wanted to share with everyone that I perfected this now and am super happy. I enjoy cooking and being out and about.


The AUTUMN 2019 edition of Vnews, the newsletter for IOE volunteers, is now available. Lots of news on what is happening around IOE , volunteer insights and upcoming program activity dates for you to add to your calendars.


Two weeks, 24 countries, 72 games, four cities, nine venues … challenge accepted!

“I want to go to the world cup”

This simple phrase from young Thomas led to the development of a trip to the United Arab Emirates for the 2019 edition of the Asian Football Confederation Cup. Having missed the boat for the world cup in Russia 2018 this was the next best thing. The War Elephants, the White Wolves, the Lions of Mesopotamia, Green Falcons and the somewhat tamely named Socceroos (amongst others) were to do battle for the right to become the champions of Asian football.

I thought we may get three people interested. We ended up with 19 travellers, the majority without an iota of interest in soccer! Across the two weeks we went to a camel market, sand surfed, played in water parks, went to Bollywood, a ghost town, camel riding, visited the Louvre at Abu Dhabi, experienced Ferrari acceleration, held falcons and owls, got banned from beach cricket, played ‘marks up’ in the pool, entered a fun run, swam in the Persian Gulf, high fived Azis Behich’s dad, and along with much much more, stood in markets loudly exclaiming ‘this man needs a watch’!

We negotiated planes, trains, taxis, Careem (UAE uber), buses, walked, got a little lost, yelled YALLA! regularly (GO – COME ON), used ‘shukram’ (works for Urdu as well) for the drivers, thought about human rights issues, admired lawns, and had a great time. Oh, we did go to some soccer matches as well (nine for the most committed among us!) and enjoyed the active support of all the teams, except Syria, when we nearly had an international incident!

Fun facts
• Did you know that if you support Qatar you can be jailed in the UAE! Awkward when one of our group wore a Qatar shirt to the Saudi Arabia v Qatar match.
• No alcohol makes for a much more pleasant sporting experience
• Australian active support is abysmal – we need chants and songs
• Tom F. yelled at Robbie Kruse that his mum thinks he is a ‘hack’
• Lebanon and China had the best support
• Be prepared for Afghan/Pakistan/Bangladeshi/Indian market sellers to blow burning crystals into your face (It’s OK though!)
• Pashminas, genuine fake Rolex and Ray Bans can apparently be purchased in the souks
• They have flamingos!
• Their shopping malls are like Chadstone on steroids

We all returned happy and healthy from the trip. Michelle from Spot On Travel and my traveling companions made the trip lots of fun and a great adventure. The cup is done and dusted. The Australians could not defend their title and Qatar are the new Asian Cup champions (a little ironic). 2023 is the next edition of the Asian Cup in either South Korea or China – bring it on!

Before that World Cup Qatar 2022 – want to go?

Fred Brumhead


I once worked for the Mentally Retarded Citizens Welfare Association and I can clearly remember when Scope was the Spastic Society. There were ‘wogs’ and ‘chinks’ at my school. At that time I thought these titles and words were wrong. They were disrespectful and enabled generalisation and assumptions about all who fell under those banners. At university it was hammered into students that ‘person first and description second’ was the only polite way to go. Terminology was changed to ensure that words which had been appropriated as abuse were no longer used. ‘A person with an intellectual disability’ or ‘a person with Cerebral Palsy’  were considered the correct terminologies.

So it has been somewhat challenging to see the development and revisiting of how we should refer to people within the community of the neurodiverse. The terminologies ‘autistics’ and ‘autistic people’ have become more common in language now, particularly within the community of people with autism. They argue that the term ‘person with autism’ likens the autism to a handbag that can be picked up and put down as required, rather than an acknowledgement that autism is a description of neurodiversity. It’s not bad nor good, it just is.

The issue is when words are imbued with other meanings. When words become culturally appropriated as terms of abuse, the use of such terms in polite society is enough to cause the ‘pearls to get a good clutching’. Retarded, spastic, wog, chink are (or were) terms used to put people down. The only reversal of that has been the appropriation and redefinition of the term ‘wog’ which has been reclaimed by people of southern European descent and worn as a badge of honour and distinction.

Perhaps ‘autistic’ is yet to gather abusive status.  I do know of one young lady who was suspended from school for delivering a right hook to some kid that called her a ‘stupid autistic’ (was the punch delivered for the ‘stupid’ part?).  Suspension? I think she should have got a medal … and a suspension!

Perhaps the people with autism are keen to develop the superpower notion of neurodiversity. Whatever it is, I think the important thing is RESPECT. Call yourself what you will, but that is your choice alone to make.

For a non-wog or spick, intellectually diverse, movement diverse, neurodiverse person I think I will call you by your name. You can call yourself what you want but I can only respond with your name (if I can remember it) or collectively as a group of people with superpowers/Xmen (or should that be Xpeople).

Food for thought



Mel, a parent to three autistic teenagers and  Co-Founder of Different Journeys, has given a unique insight into the challenges of traveling as a family, and the value of traveling with that little extra support from Interchange Outer East. Whether it’s for a second pair of eyes, extra flexibility, someone to lend an ear, or a chance to have a night out without the kids, there are many advantages to joining an IOE overseas adventure as a family!

‘Traveling can be challenging yet exciting and it is a rite of passage which many people just assume everyone can access. However for many families who have children with additional needs, this can present many problems that actually prevents you from even trying to travel.

In 2017 we tried our first family holiday overseas by ourselves when we went to America. There was so much planning and preparation involved and we still couldn’t plan for every contingency. This becomes an added challenge for families, making what should be an enjoyable time, quiet stressful. In reflection this holiday was successful and we had a good time.

When the chance of a supported holiday came up, we committed with trepidation. We didn’t have total control – that was the job of Interchange Outer East (aka Fred). What if we didn’t get on with the other families on the trip? What if their children were better behaved than ours? These were just a few of the questions roaming around our heads.

We had to have our own meetings with Michelle from Spot on travel to ensure that all the needs of our children were met. I’m sure we were driving Fred mad with all the extra organisation etc.

So in the early hours of January 5th we arrived at Melbourne Airport with 14 other people. In fact, there were 6 diagnosed autistic people on the trip. There was excitement in the air and can I say when we arrived back home on the 20th January we were all still talking, laughing and planning our next trip together.

What did we learn as a family;

– There are more families out there with similar issues to ours, the journey doesn’t have to be so lonely if we all reach out and talk openly and freely;
– We had time to go and do our own thing if we didn’t want to go with the group. This included staying and just doing nothing at our hotel
– We could have support for the first time with the extra support that was offered on the trip. There were times we went out by ourselves as a couple, or with the other parents on the trip without children.
– There was safety in numbers if the children wanted to do things with the others in the group and we didn’t. It alleviated many an argument that would have previously occurred.
– We were able to feel included and supported and in essence not so alone
– We created positive, happy memories (except if you ask our daughter who was keeping notes on her family members and all the silly things they did)
– We were able to laugh with others and ourselves and strengthen existing friendships and create new ones.

The opportunity provided by interchange to have a supported holiday was amazing and very much appreciated. The support staff (Fred, Fay, Ryan, Sarah & Tom) were wonderful in the support, help, friendship & comradeship they provided. Nothing was a burden. To us they were just part of the holiday, not support workers.

Whilst we have been able to have successful holidays in the past in spite of all the work, preparation & stress that comes with planning a holiday for three ASD teens, we have never experienced a trip where we have been given so much assistance just to enjoy a ‘normal’ family holiday, with both the kids and with each other as a couple. To be able to relax by the pool or leave the kids in a motel room whilst we had a meal has been something we have rarely, if ever, done in the pas … what a revelation!!!!!

We can’t thank IOE enough for the chance to do this and are actively thinking about what other adventures Fred can take us on!!’

The Wheatfill Family