An Autistic peer support group where we support celebrations, provide
connections and create communities.

Who we are and
what we are about

Different Journeys - A brief history

Different Journeys started when two mums (Mel and Merrin) came together to do something about the loneliness and isolation they and their Autistic children were experiencing. In February 2016 the first Autistic Teen Peer Support Social Group event was held at Club Kilsyth. It was an overwhelming and immediate success. Different Journeys has continued to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our Autistic community from that day on. Our talented pool of volunteers, peer mentors, Board members, partners and professional supporters has also grown. We are proud of our collective achievements and of the many lives that have been positively changed forever because of Different Journeys. Why not join us? Everyone’s welcome.

“The journey for families for teens and adults is made that little bit easier by connecting with the world and not feeling so alone.”  Mel Spencer – Executive Officer and co-founder

Our peer support social events are for both Autistic teens, Autistic adults, the carer(s) and their families. It allows individuals to build transferrable skill sets such as communication skills, social skills, ability to maintain more meaningful relationships and skills to access the community. There are lots of ‘hidden rules’ when going out socially in public and Different Journeys aims to empower our Autistic community with the skills and knowledge by creating real events in a safe and supported environment to learn. Our holistic wraparound approach enables carers to also build their networks, learn different approaches and learning to navigate the maze. 

Different Journeys specialises in helping teens and adults living with Autism, and their families, to come together and socialise. It is an opportunity in a safe, friendly and supportive environment. 

Meet the Team

Our Board

Mel Spencer

Executive Officer

Merrin Ayton


Nick Pritchard


Daniel Munter

Deputy Chair

Matt Parker


Fred Brumhead

Special Consultant

Jesse Baker


Ru Ying Cai

Non-Executive Position

Tina Valentine

Risk and Policy Advisor

Our Staff

Annette White

Executive Assistant


Autism Family Swim Night Event Manager

Megan Spencer

Peer Event Support

Laura Doan

Event Co-ordinator

Bailey White

Peer Event Support

Sam Rose

LGBTQIA Autistic Liaison Mentor



Christina Penna

Project Co-ordinator

Darren Ayton

Peer Support

Our Supporters




Graphic Design

Angus & Rhys

Multi Marketing Solutions

Annie Hayward


Different Journeys recognises and embraces the richness, strengths and opportunities that diversity brings and encourages and respects a diverse range of individuals and views.

Different Journeys acknowledge that we live, work, and meet together on the lands of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge the continuing connection to this land that members of the Kulin nation have, and we thank them for caring for the land and waters since time immemorial. We acknowledge Elders past and present. We recognise and respect that sovereignty was never ceded, and a treaty has yet to be signed. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Different Journeys collects personal information where it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of its functions or activities. Different Journeys handles personal information in accordance with the obligations in the Privacy Act 1988.

Copyright © 2020 Different Journey All Rights Reserved.




The primary aim of the Peer Support Program for Carers is to empower carers of
Autistic individuals to have more choice and control over supports and services both for themselves and the person they care for.

Carers innately trust carers, those people who have walked a path similar to their
own. At Different Journeys we use a peer support approach to walk alongside carers to enable them to navigate a complicated support system, empower them to take up opportunities and engage with other carer families in similar situations.

Unfortunately, many carers of Autistic people lack the confidence, emotional strength or time to identify and access carer supports and services.
A secondary aim of this Program is to follow up with carers to help link them into
existing supports and services. This person-centred approach provides warm
handovers and helps carers constructively express their needs.
This project is limited to our scope of funding.