Media release: From coast to country: Mobile Service Centres take government services to the bush
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
The Hon Darren Chester MP
Mobile Service Centres Desert Rose and Golden Wattle have concluded another busy financial year travelling across the country providing rural and regional communities with tailored Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support, and as part of a pilot, veteran-specific assistance.
During the 2018-19 financial year, the Mobile Service Centres travelled over 60,000 kilometres, assisted over 10,200 customers and visited 410 communities.
Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said the Mobile Service Centres were an important link between government services for those in rural and regional communities.
‘The team on board the Mobile Service Centres pride themselves on the supportive, friendly, face-to-face service they provide to people in the bush’ Minister Robert said.
The versatility of the trucks and crews allow them to move quickly to provide support following natural disasters when Australian Government assistance is announced.
Following the floods in Northern Queensland earlier this year, Golden Wattle spent 13 days in seven disaster-affected communities, helping more than 500 people gain access to much needed Government assistance.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said it was great to see veteran-specific services added to the range of assistance offered on-board the Mobile Service Centres this year.
‘Being able to reach veterans and their families – particularly those in rural and regional communities – through the Mobile Service Centres is incredibly important to ensure they are receiving services and support through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,’ Mr Chester said.
‘The feedback from veterans and their families about our assistance has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re excited to continue to offer this service.’
Mobile Service Centres have collectively travelled over 900,000 kilometres since 2006, roughly 62 round trips of mainland Australia by car.
Mobile Service Centres - Customer case studies
New South Wales
An elderly veteran and his wife attended the Mobile Service Centre to enquire about home care assistance, domestic assistance and home modifications as the veteran’s medical conditions were affecting his mobility. The veteran was eligible for multiple services, and the Mobile Service Centre Manager contacted local organisations to arrange an at-home assessment for these services.
The Manager discussed general health and wellbeing with the veteran – particularly mental health. The veteran said his mental health was okay however the drought was causing additional pressure. Following more discussion, the Manager established that the couple were local farmers with 60 head of cattle, and weren’t aware of the support available to them.
The Manager was able to refer the couple to the Rural Financial Counselling Service and a Farm Liaison Officer who conducted an assessment and was able to issue the couple with a voucher immediately. This Officer referred the couple to several local agencies and will continue to engage with the couple to ensure they are adequately supported.
North Queensland (Emergency Response)
During the North Queensland Floods, a young stock-hand attended Golden Wattle to test his eligibility for loss of income. He was unable to return to work due to high floodwaters. He’d also lost his tools, and his beloved saddle had been damaged in the floods and was unable to be used. The saddle was essential to the man’s job.
The team on board assisted the man with a Disaster Recovery Allowance claim which was granted, and connected him to the local Country Women’s Association who provided a grant to replace his tools and saddle. During the visit, the man was on the phone to his mother, who asked to speak with the Mobile Service Centre Manager. The mother was in tears, and thanked everyone on board for the care and support that was provided to her son, who was able to continue his employment on the station.
North Queensland (Emergency Response)
During the North Queensland floods, the team on board Golden Wattle received a visit from two neighbours who had lost 90 per cent of their cattle from severe flooding. They’d been battling with the drought and trying to keep their stock alive, then the cattle were killed by flood water. The Mobile Service Centre team assisted the customers with claims for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and referred them to a Farm Household Case Officer and Rural Financial Counsellor. The social worker on board the Mobile Service Centre also supported the neighbours with a wellbeing check, and connected them with local mental health services that were operating out of the recovery centre.
A social worker on board the Mobile Service Centre contacted a customer who was flagged as not having taken Maintenance action, which resulted in the customer receiving only the minimum rate of Family Tax Benefit. The social worker invited the customer to attend the Mobile Service Centre and discovered that the customer’s partner had recently passed away. The customer was unaware they were possibly entitled to more money.
The social worker was able to update the customer’s file and issue an arrears payment, providing much needed financial relief for the young family. The social worker was also able to provide emotional support and help the customer with referrals to community organisations.
A customer attended the Mobile Service Centre to follow up on their claim for Newstart Allowance. The customer had subsequently been in hospital for surgery and had become homeless. The team on board checked that all relevant documentation had been lodged, and the claim was granted and arrears paid. During the conversation, the customer mentioned other service providers had also contacted her about the money she owed them. The Mobile Service Centre team was able to connect the customer to local financial counselling services that could assist her with her debt and other financial matters. The customer said she was overwhelmed with the high level of service and care that was provided by the team.
A Veteran couple attended the Mobile Service Centre with their daughter seeking assistance for the husband, who was suffering a terminal medical condition. They enquired about home care and domestic assistance, and the Mobile Service Centre Manager arranged an assessment with a local provider to be conducted for the couple in their home. The Manager also discussed My Aged Care and Palliative Care assistance for the couple, and completed an Assisted Customer Claim for carer allowance for the couple’s daughter, as she was providing most of the care.
The daughter advised she’d been trying to access assistance on behalf of her father for a while but was struggling because she wasn’t a nominee. The Mobile Service Centre Manager was able to provide the family with Authority to Act forms, and sent all relevant documentation to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
An older Australian was caring for his wife who was very unwell, requiring 24 hour care. He came on board to lodge a medical report for a carer allowance claim he had completed online. The couple were struggling financially due to ongoing medical costs, and were considering selling their home to support themselves. Staff on board escalated the carer allowance claim for it to be assessed immediately. During the interaction staff noticed the customer wasn’t getting the full rate of his age pension. They updated the customer details, which increased the customer’s fortnightly pension rate.
By the end of the day, the customer had also been granted carer allowance, and received a back payment.