Connecting and communicating just got a whole lot better for young people on the Autism Spectrum with the recent launch of the Different Journeys website https://differentjourneysasd.com/   which was developed with  the support of the Footmen Foundation.

Recognising the lack of suitable social situations available for their own teenage children, parents Mel and Merrin decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a social group for high functioning ASD teenagers, they called Different Journeys.  Stephen Shore coined the phrase, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism”.  Different Journeys is reflective of this because each and everyone’s journey with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is different. No two journeys are the same because no one individual is the same.

Club Kilsyth was eager to be involved in the venture and their private function Canterbury Room has become the regular venue for the teenagers to socialise, dine, play games (free WiFi is available)  and share their common interests every third Sunday of each month.

Different Journeys has now expanded to include an 18+ group who meet on the second Tuesday each month at the same location. As with the teenagers, it’s a great opportunity to get together over a meal with other like -minded people. The bringing of ipads and similar devices is welcomed and WiFi is available so the young adults can play games and share the latest info.

And of course the regular Kahoots quiz at both events is always very popular.

Different Journeys mission is ‘to empower young people with ASD by providing them with a social platform that fosters an environment for them to create positive connections, feeling of inclusion, and linking families with services and support!’

Different Journeys is run under the auspices of Interchange Outer East.

Check out their new website to find out more about what they do and how to be involved https://differentjourneysasd.com/


Yarra Valley kids got to explore the city with IOE Yarraburn office’s first Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) camp which was based at Melbourne Discovery in the heart of the CBD.

What a jam packed weekend it was.

The weekend started with a walk to Docklands and a ride on the Melbourne Star. (Leah was very brave and loved looking down!) Back to earth and on to Glow in the Dark Golf which is located in the Docklands Shopping Town. Plus an ice cream of course.

Then a tram ride to Chinatown for lunch, All the kids loved it and happily ate Chinese broccoli. It was Jess’s first time trying dumplings and he loved them.

Following lunch we headed to ACMI in Fed Square where we spent a couple of hours. Everyone really enjoyed it and loved playing the old school games on display.

Next we checked out all the laneway artwork in Hozier lane before finishing off our city explore at the Melbourne State library.

After such a mammoth day of trekking around we headed back to Melbourne Discovery for a movie night and pizza. Their cinema room was great, in spite of our tiredness we even managed to watch half a movie.

Sunday morning it was off to Vic Market where all the kids made a purchase – Leah bought a puppet kookaburra, Jess bought a watch and Lil bought her mum a crystal flower. Hot jam doughnuts there were a special treat.

Keeping up Saturday’s pace we headed to Melbourne Museum where Leah was particularly taken with the dinosaurs.

Last stop for the weekend was San Churros for hot choccies and churros – yum! We also grabbed some sushi for the train home. Another first for Jess and he liked that too.

What a weekend, I’m still knackered but loved it!

Molly Isley (camp Rec Leader)


On Wednesday 16 August, the Victorian Disability Awards ceremony took place at Melbourne’s Federation Square. Interchange Outer East’s Family Camp program – now in its 26th year – had been nominated for an award and had successfully reached the finals in the  Excellence in Promoting Health, Housing and Wellbeing category. I was lucky to attend with Kimberley, IOE Children and Family Services Team Leader, Karen from Family Support and long time IOE members, the Cameron family -Kathy, Ruth, Margo and little Alexandra.

It was a wonderful event and it was so good to see some of the other fantastic work that is going on in our community and all the different ways that individuals and groups are promoting inclusion, well-being and innovation in the disability sector.

Interviewed on stage was 17 year old Bryce Pace from VicSRC who is also a mentor with the I Can Network. Bryce was presented with his Emerging Leader award and it was great to see how, in just a few years, Bryce had gone from hiding his disability, to becoming a proud and public advocate for young people with a disability.

It was also quite moving to hear from Dylan Alcott OAM, recipient of the inaugural Minister’s Award for Outstanding Leadership. After listening to both of their stories, I leaned over to Kimberley and said, ‘We need to get these two to speak at our next conference!’

Even though we didn’t win, Interchange Outer East Family Camp was recognised in our category with the Highly Commended award, and we were presented with a beautiful framed certificate for us to proudly display for years to come. It now has a prominent position in Yose St reception!

Congratulations to the team at Rebecca Court, a group home for young men with challenging behaviours, who won the award in our category.  Congratulations too to all the  finalists and winners and thank you to DHHS and NDS for hosting such a warm and inspiring event.

By Faye Lougheed


IOE’s Adult Service is always looking for opportunities for participants to be involved in their local community. It’s a great way to both make connections in the community while gaining valuable work or social experience.

A group from our Lilydale site has been visiting, working and getting to know locals at a number of farms in the area.

Every Thursday our group – Jordan, Jayden, Michael, Liam, Shawn and Grace – go to a farm. We try to avoid going to the same place twice in a row, so we have lots of different experiences. Our goal is to gain work experience and we’d consider it a real bonus if we were to secure any employment opportunities through the connections we are making.

One place where we have enjoyed working is owned by a lady named Laura, who came to us and offered her property for our farm group to go to. We dug up a whole veggie garden and planted new seedlings, as well as got to meet her very friendly sheep, goat and pig. Lara even baked some delicious banana bread for us all and provided it, still warm from the oven, with tea and coffee, as well as let us take home any fresh vegetables from the garden that we wanted. She has experience in the disability field and was just happy to give back to the community. We all had a wonderful day and her generosity did not go unnoticed! We will be going back to Laura’s farm in a couple of weeks to check on our seedlings and plant some more.

We also regularly visit Haydi’s Irish Donkey farm in Wandin, and a property in Launching Place we call ‘The Sheep Farm’. This is run by Mark and Andrea Wilkinson, and is home to 18 rescued sheep who come running over for their Weetbix when they see us, and two big horses who always manage to get treats out of us too!

I am busy trying to establish other places we can regularly visit and would love to hear from anyone who could assist us.

Kerrie Lee


Mondays are always an exciting start to our week because Ruby knows she gets to go to Sport for Fun after school.

We first started going as a way for Ruby to be active, have fun and to have a social activity to call her own. The program offered by Interchange Outer East was a wonderful introduction to different sports for Ruby. Each week they focus on a different sport from soccer, basketball to hockey and cricket. Although Ruby struggles through the warm up exercises she gets encouraged to do her best and so she tries. Fiona the coordinator at Sport For Fun makes everyone feel welcome and part of the team. She instructs each person at their skill level in a supportive and encouraging way.

Netball is one sport Ruby really looks forward to. With each session, she gradually gets better at her skills and learning the rules. Sport gets more competitive as kids gets older and this program allows Ruby to master the skills at her own pace.

I was surprised recently to find out that Ruby signed up for the school netball team as part of inter-school sports. She trained alongside her friends every lunchtime and practiced at home. It wasn’t until I went to watch Ruby play, that I realised what the Sport for Fun program had really achieved for Ruby. She stood on that court alongside her classmates wearing the goal shooter bib. They saw her as a valuable team member, capable enough to be in the position. I smiled, laughed, clapped and cheered as the game went on. On the inside I was holding back tears. She wasn’t given a token position because we practice inclusion, Ruby was given that position because she deserved it. Seeing her being apart of the winning team was a proud moment.

Going to Sport for Fun started off as a fitness goal for Ruby but it has meant so much more. It has been a program where Ruby can learn the skills of a sport at her pace and then feel confident enough to play as a valued team member with her peers.

Yvonne C (mother)


Dads Group has been out and about on a variety of outings and activities during 2017. So far there has been a bit of action, lots of laughs and a whole lot of camaraderie.

Skeet Shooting
This sport really requires skill and focus and certainly brings out the competitive nature and sporting spirit. There was a range of experience from ex-army, hobbyists and arm chair shooters. Technique and top tips were hot topics before the first ‘pull’ call.
This however was the first time I had picked up a gun, let alone fired one. The warm up was brief; a steep learning curve ensued over the hour and I quickly found myself in ‘full competition mode’ with trigger happy competitors to my left and right. Like the war we don’t like to talk about who won.

Go Karting
Insert key elements and components: focus, skill and determination. These aspects quickly materialised, triggered by the whiff of petrol in the air. Thankfully everyone passed the breathalyzer to get on the track.
It was lovely to see a few new dads on the day. They thoroughly enjoyed stepping out of their dad role and taking a glimpse back to their younger carefree days.
It was certainly high octane fun, with the added analytics (whether you liked it or not) around shaving off those precious tenths of a second. It was great to be involved with people who just enjoyed the simplicity of having a good day out with their mates; and good to see such passion and knowledge for go-karting too.

Comics Lounge
It was a night of hilarity and silliness at the one and only Comics Lounge in North Melbourne. It was good to let loose by keeping it simple with some good old belly laughs. We were all very impressed by the banter, quality of the observational comedy and wit flying around. It was also good to see a cameo from Dave Hughes.
The simple nature of laughing is always welcomed…  and what a way to let your hair down!

Wilsons Prom Weekend Away
Only a weekend away can you see the true nature of this dads group. The bonds between them were clear to see and have been long formed. It was refreshing to see the full extent of their friendships.
Highlights were: trips to the brewery, Wilson’s Prom – Squeaky Beach walk, dinner at Fish Creek Pub and fishing in the bay. Not much to bring home; but as they say fishing is not about the fishing.
My first dad’s weekend away left me with the overarching feeling and realisation that this group does mean a lot to these guys. They truly are all there for one another. Sometimes this may only be conveyed by a punch on the arm, a passing of a beer, a knowing look or just listening to one another.

One for the dads and their kids. Keeping it local, a casual dinner, few strikes here and there, but who’s counting. Obviously we did our best to put the opposition off when it was their turn.
Sibling rivalries were apparent for all to see. Not sure shoulder barging after each bowl was the best way of expressing sportsmanship!
It was great to bring the whole family together, see them have fun and share an evening in a comfortable local environment. Family is unquestionably everything.

Mark Taylor Dads Group Coordinator


Once again Interchange Outer East has good reason to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Freemasonry.

A recent fundraising night where patrons were treated to a performance of ‘The Housekeeper’ at Clayton’s Encore Theatre, raised $4000 towards Freemasons pledged financial support to IOE’s Sibling Program for the coming year. The evening’s $3000 takings were supplemented by a further $1000 from auction items sold post event.

The evening was organised by Freemason’s Canterbury Lodge, with considerable contribution by their ‘daughter’ lodge SEAVIC, which also contributed hundreds of dollars for raffle and silent auction items which added considerably to the funds raised on the night.

SEAVIC also donated 20 tickets for the show to be used by IOE members. This offer was gratefully accepted and much appreciated by those who attended the performance. So, not only were funds raised for IOE, but some family members had a rare chance to go to the theatre. As one parent reported “With a disadvantaged child we are rarely invited out, or able to go out, so to be invited, and have such a special night was a great experience.” Nice feedback indeed which reinforced to Freemasons the validity of their ongoing support.

Freemasons also enjoyed the opportunity to meet more IOE colleagues and carers and were delighted that people enjoyed the show and contributed, both financially and by their presence, to the success of the night.
On behalf of all the families of IOE, thank-you Freemasons and thank-you to all who worked so hard to organise the event, donated goods or services or helped out on the night.

As Freemason Ross K said “The spirit of Freemasonry is alive and well at Canterbury. Well done!”

Welcome Dennon

ACHIEVE 2B is an inspiring New Zealand based intercultural exchange program for high school students with disabilities. It is the brainchild of Founder Julia Hartshorne who, as a young student with mild disability, had an exchange experience which confirmed her belief that the experience should be available to all students regardless of their abilities.

In 2015 Interchange Outer East became a proud partner with ACHIEVE 2B and since that time the organisations have worked to bring the first international exchange to fruition.

Finally our first exchange student is here and by all accounts really enjoying his stay! Carly Ellen Lee and husband Rob welcomed Dennon McQueen- Foster (second from right in photo above) into their home in early April. Dennon will be hosted by the Lees for 3 months and is attending Fairhills High in Wantirna during his stay.

When not at school, Dennon has slotted right in as a volunteer with Interchange Outer East and in the 7 weeks he has been here has already volunteered on numerous weekend camps, including the recent Portsea family camp. From all reports, he is well liked by all the volunteers and children and has a positive, go getter and fun attitude to everything. He also volunteers every Wednesday with the Adult Services Enterprises group, bringing a new perspective for the guys. He has even joined IOE’s formidable Tuesday night soccer team – though as CEO Fred says “he does play rugby!”

As Carly says “Dennon has fitted right in with our family – though with his IOE volunteering it seems like he is hardly ever home! We did manage a camping trip together though where Dennon got to see a bit of the countryside. It was a different experience for him which he really enjoyed. He seems to have settled into Fairhills, has made friends there and is looking forward to taking part in their upcoming formal”

Dennon has been sharing his adventure with his friends back home in Whangerei New Zealand via facebook where the word ‘awesome’ makes a regular appearance. Though, he is missing his family as this is the first time he has been away from home for such an extended time.

It is anticipated this will be only the first of an ongoing program of exchanges through Achieve2B between Australia and NZ – future international exchanges are also being planned – giving students with disabilities the opportunity to experience life in a different cultural setting.