OUR COMMITTEE

Mel Spencer

Executive Officer | Co-founder

Mel Spencer is a fierce autistic advocate. As a parent to 3 autistic teenagers and identifying as autistic herself, she is committed to ensuring that the world is more accomodating and accepting of the autism community, which includes supporting both the autistic individual and their family, including parents and carers. She is very passionate about making a difference and finding creative ways to overcome the challenges and obstacles that present along the way.
Her background is 18 years with the Victoria Police Force, predominantly in the area of investigations and support of victims of sexual, physical and domestic violence. She has completed a Certificate IV in Disability and Small Business Management. She has, for the past two years been the proud recipient of the State Government Women In Boards Leadership program, which connected her with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2020 she was inducted into Victorian Womens Honor roll that supports outstanding achievements by women.
Mel is the co-founder and current Executive Officer of Different Journeys which she started with Merrin Ayton to ensure that her children had the opportunity to connect with a wider world than their bedrooms. Her vision for Different Journeys is to provide opportunities for our autistic community to find meaningful ways to connect and empower both themselves and their families, ensuring they have every opportunity that is afforded to them so they the can lead an fulfilling life.

Merrin Ayton

Co-Founder

Merrin has worked tirelessly in the ASD community for the past 18 years in various voluntary positions. For a seven-year period she held positions of President, Vice President and Fundraising Coordinator at Irabina Childhood Autism Services and more recently in 2015 co-founded Different Journeys with Melinda Spencer. Merrin and her husband Darren have two sons, 18 and 21, both diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Merrin has been working in the education department for over two decades, specialising in maths and science teaching for year levels 7 – 12. As Merrin navigated her way through the maze of early intervention programs, health professionals, therapists, the public and private education systems and she quickly realised how difficult the journey could be, the limitations of many of the programs on offer and the lack of supported social activities available for her boys participate in.

Jodie Runje

Chairperson

Jodi has been a keen volunteer over the years on many Committees. As an Aunt to three ASD kids Jodi has always been interested and keen to learn about the challenges her Nephew & Nieces face and how it will shape their future choices and opportunities. Often feeling ineffective and not knowing how to best help when challenges have occurred over the years for her Nephew and Nieces, Jodi is eager to ensure the wider community have a greater understanding of the ASD community and what we can all do to be more inclusive.

Kean Spencer

Deputy Chairperson

Kean is a father and step father of 4  with 3 on the spectrum.
Having studied marketing in the USA for 5 years Kean returned to Melbourne and has been in Sales and Marketing roles for the past 22 Years in some major International Companies.
Kean lived on the same street with Irabina Childhood Autism Service which his daughter attended early invention and has been fundraising for Autism every since.  
Kean joined different journeys due to his passion to give kids and young adults on the spectrum every chance to succeed and to continue to give them a place for social inclusion.

Kevin O'Shannesy

Treasurer

Kevin is an accountant and has been a federal public servant for over 38 years.  He loves golf, the mighty Cats in the AFL, test cricket; and even more importantly, taking his son Matt to the MCG and watching him play basketball.  He has some fantastic lifetime memories from taking Matt and/or all  his family on overseas trips to Asia and North America.  He and Kerrie have been happily married for over 35 years.  We all moved to the outer east in 2018 after living in the eastern suburbs all our lives.  Joining the board allows Kevin to give back for all the benefits Matt enjoys being part of DJ.

Daniel Munter

Assistant Treasurer

Daniel is an autistic and passionate person who adopts a ‘person-first’ approach to the development of autistic youth. He strives everyday to enrich the lives of the autistic community, as well as create opportunities for individual personal development. Daniel has worked for the I Can Network for over three years, producing stronger autism advocacy and mental health outcomes for young autisitcs. Daniel has a Bachelor of Music from the Australian Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences from Monash University.