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Autism Trailblazer Mel Spencer honoured for contributions to the Autism community.

Different Journeys CEO and Co-Founder, Mel Spencer, has been recognised for her exceptional contributions to the Autism community. Mel secured a well-deserved spot on the prestigious King’s Birthday Honours List for 2023. Moreover, she has been honored with the esteemed Order of Australia Medal (OAM), highlighting the significance of her dedication and transformative work in the field of Autism support and advocacy.

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

Read More: Mel Spencer is creating a village to support autistic individuals and their carers.

“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.

Mel Spencer and Merrin Ayton smiling and embracing each other.
Different Journeys Co-Founders Mel Spencer (right) and Merrin Ayton (Left)

Connecting the Autistic community in Inclusive Environments

Different Journeys’ vision goes beyond mere support. Furthermore, it aims to create inclusive, safe, and supportive environments that foster connections for Autistic youth, Autistic adults, and their families. The organisation encourages connections through various social platforms and in-person meet-ups. More importantly, it provides a space where the Autism community can come together, share experiences, and support one another.

Transforming Lives: Decreasing Mental Illness and Social Isolation

Different Journeys’ mission is to decrease mental illness and social isolation in the Autism community. They offer individualised wraparound support to empower Autistic individuals and improve their well-being. Through a strong support network, they help individuals overcome isolation and find belonging and hope.

Different Journeys also recognises the importance of education and employment in the lives of Autistic individuals. Because of this the organisation actively works to enhance employment and education opportunities for individuals on the Autism spectrum. By providing targeted programs and support services, Different Journeys equips Autistic individuals with the necessary skills and resources to thrive in these areas, opening doors to a brighter future.

Embracing, learning from, and Empowering the Autism Community

Different Journeys strives to create a space where the broader community can embrace, learn from, and empower the Autism community. By fostering dialogue and mutual learning, the organisation encourages the broader community to recognise and celebrate the unique strengths and contributions of Autistic individuals. Primarily doing this through awareness initiatives, Differnet Journeys promotes understanding and acceptance, breaking down prejudices and misconceptions surrounding Autism. In doing so, Different Journeys aims to create an inclusive society that embraces diversity.

Mel Spencer with 4 other people.
Mel Spencer (centre) with some of the DJ’s team.

Mel Spencer’s inclusion in the King’s Birthday Honours List and the receipt of the Order of Australia Medal underscores the transformative impact of Different Journeys under her leadership. The organisation’s commitment to eradicating social isolation, prejudice, and ignorance has paved the way for a more inclusive society.

Read More: Challenges Faced by Autistic Teenagers During Puberty

As Different Journeys continues to thrive, Mel’s recognition serves as a testament to the collective effort and passion of the entire team. With unwavering dedication, they continue to empower the Autism community. Because of this, they are creating positive change in the lives of Autistic individuals and their families.

The Autism community celebrates Mel Spencer’s well-deserved honour. It serves as a symbol of progress and the ongoing pursuit of a society where every Autistic person can thrive and contribute their unique talents to the world.

You can learn more about Different journeys and their peer support and carer programs here.

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