Kirk is kicking goals

graphic of leaves
Kirk inside the op shop wearing a football shirt and cap smiling at the camera.

Kirk wants people to know that living with autism does not mean he is incapable of contributing to the community. 

In fact, for him, it’s quite the opposite. He makes a difference in people’s lives every day. 

The 24-year-old from Kinglake volunteers for his local basketball and football clubs; Kinglake Ranges Opportunity Shop, Kinglake Library, BMX Bicycle Group, and Neighbourhood House.

Kirk riding bike quote icon in teal rectangle white play icon

"I enjoy meeting people and seeing people out and about and talking to people, helping them out and seeing what they do."


Described as “a highly creative, kind-hearted, and enthusiastic person who consistently goes out of his way to be helpful to others, resulting in an impressive volunteer experience list and popular community profile”, Kirk’s tireless efforts led to his joint win as Murrindindi Shire Council Young Citizen of the Year last year. 

But he’s not stopping there – with hopes to publish a book this year about his experiences of living with disability. 

It all started when COVID-19 hit. Struggling as social restrictions threatened to isolate him, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery and resilience.  

Amid the backdrop of uncertainty, Kirk started collecting data and statistics about the pandemic and wrote about how it affected him and his small community.  

It didn’t take long for Kirk to find his voice – expressing his feelings and experiences onto paper. 

There wasn’t much else to do at that time, so this was a good way to keep myself busy,” Kirk said.

Fast forward a couple of years and he has found a local author who is helping him to publish his book. 

Kirk Mercuri at footy

It is about my life as an adult with autism, there’s some chapters about when I went to school and how I think about things and then it talks about how I felt during COVID and how it affected me and Kinglake as a community.”

Kirk was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½ after his mother Maryanne noticed he wasn’t reaching his milestones like his twin brother.  

“He never cried as a baby and didn’t start speaking until the age of six,” Maryanne said.  

“Even then, it was baby words. He started learning one word at a time until eventually he put sentences together.” 

Once Kirk was diagnosed, he received early intervention through a special development school for four years before attending mainstream primary and secondary school with a fully funded full-time aid. 

“It’s been a long journey because he needs help all the time here and there, as well as guidance,” Maryanne said. 

In 2019, Kirk accessed the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) before being linked in with Intereach and local area coordinator Richelle in 2021. 


We connected Kirk with supports around the Kinglake area, and he has been working with a support worker on a regular basis to access his community and make connections in his community which he has been doing so well,” Richelle said. 

“He also receives funding for weekly skill development to build on his independence, and work on skills such as cooking and budgeting.” 

For Kirk, the NDIS supports help him to stay active and socialise in the community. 

“In some ways, my autism impacts on what things I may be capable of, my abilities and how I think and how I react and respond to things,” Kirk said. 

Kirk Mercuri with award

The NDIS has helped me quite a bit. I have a support worker who comes to see me once a week and we go to different places and explore different areas.”

With a zest for life, Kirk’s presence is felt far and wide across Kinglake, his infectious enthusiasm touching the lives of everyone who crosses his path. 

Op shop volunteer Monique said Kirk had a big impact on the community. 

“When people come in, he likes to talk, especially about football or his bike riding. He always has a smile and makes everyone very happy,” Monique said. 

He’s a wonderful young man and does so much for the community and he’s always willing to help.” 

Whether it’s meticulously keeping score for the local basketball club, running water for the Kinglake Football Club (Lakers), or helping out at the op shop, Kirk’s genuine kindness leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those around him. 

“What I like about my volunteering is that they’re all different,” Kirk said. 

“I get to meet new people and learn new things every day.” 

As for the future, Kirk wants to continue doing what he loves but always has his sights set on new horizons. 

“I want to keep bike riding and going out into the community and having more adventures and socialising and keeping myself busy by helping people out,” he said. 

And he wants people to know that neurodivergence should not be perceived as a barrier. Rather, it can serve as a catalyst for achieving your goals with compassion and determination. 

Kirk Mercuri and Mum Maryanne

I want people to know that autism is different for everyone and that people with autism are still capable of doing things.” 

“It doesn’t stop me from doing what I love.”