Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) | Mel Spencer


Different Journeys’ CEO and Co-Founder, Mel Spencer, has been included in the King’s Birthday Honours List announced today.

Ms Spencer has received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to community health.

Different Journeys’ Chair Daniel Munter congratulated Mel on behalf of the Board, staff, volunteers and Different Journeys community on this highly prestigious and well-deserved honour.

‘Mel’s unwavering belief and passion to advocate for people with Autism, their families and carers is second to none,” he said. “She is committed to a future where Autistic people fully participate in public life, facilitated by community awareness and understanding.

“When Mel advised me she was receiving an OAM in this year’s Kings Birthday Honours List, she immediately insisted her journey and the impact of our organisation is the work of a village, a community. This has always been Mel’s approach, selflessly utilising Different Journeys as a vehicle for social impact,” said Mr Munter.


Mel Spencer co-founded Different Journeys in 2016 with Merrin Ayton, to connect Autistic people, their families and their carers and to breakdown the social isolation, prejudice and loneliness experienced by the Autism community.

The award recognises Mel’s ongoing advocacy to Government; development of employment, education and carer peer support programs to improve outcomes for Autistic people and their carers; and establishment of the Pathways for Carers program, a peer support walking program for carers.

“Unquestionably, this work benefits thousands of Autistic people, their families and carers whose lives have changed for the better forever,” said Mr Munter.

“Mel’s advocacy work involves regular meetings with politicians and their advisors, speaking at Autism and carers’ conferences and representing the Autism community on advisory committees across Victoria.

“Mel’s enthusiasm and commitment to the Autism community, along with her countless hours of volunteer work is to be commended and I’m thrilled she is being recognised with this honour,” he said.

Prior to her role with Different Journeys, Mel was a Victorian Police Officer and received a range of Police Service Awards, including a National Police Service Medal. In 2020 she was inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll.

“I’m very proud to receive this award, not for myself, but because it is a recognition of the overall achievement of the whole Different Journeys team, especially my co-founder Merrin Ayton who has been with me every step of the way,” said Mel.

“I would not be here without a lot of professional and personal support. No one can do it alone and I want to thank my Autism community for allowing me to represent their voices,” she said.

Media contact: Annie Hayward 0419 893 922

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