Each year, a number of Department of Human Services staff volunteer to work in a service centre or Smart Centre during the busy Christmas and New Year holiday period as part of the department’s Christmas in the Network (CITN) initiative.
This gives our frontline staff some much-needed time off to spend with their loved ones, and allows staff in other areas who don’t always have direct contact with our customers to get this experience.
CITN runs from early December to the end of January each year, and has been a part of the department for over 14 years now. We asked some of our CITN volunteers about their recent experiences working in the Network.
“I’m new to the department, so I was keen to get a better understanding of the work staff do. My favourite part was being able to teach people to help themselves, which in the end was quite empowering for them. Sometimes the simplest things like listening and giving people the time of day makes a big difference.” – Julie.
“I like to volunteer each year to keep in touch with frontline services. Each time I’m in an office, I’m astounded at how committed and professional the staff are and the extent they go to help. It’s also very moving to meet people in the direst of positions who remain so positive.” – Tamara
“I volunteered because I had never worked in a service centre before. My favourite experience was being able to watch how the service centre staff interact with customers and how they show respect and support to each other. One customer was not able to access his myGov account because he no longer had a mobile phone to receive a security code. I was able help him to create a new myGov and email account, which turned out to be a positive experience for him.” – Del
“I think it’s important to know and understand how work is done in the department. This helps me in my job as I can understand the impact any changes might have. Staff really made me feel welcome, and seeing how things have changed since I started with the department 14 years ago (iPads weren’t invented when I started!) was a very interesting experience for me.” – Saskia
“I learnt that face-to-face staff have an immense knowledge, and are regularly presented with challenging situations. Their workload is high, but they all try hard to do the best job they can in sometimes very challenging circumstances. I will volunteer again – I loved it.” – Amanda
“I volunteered because I believe that as a social worker in a policy area, it’s important for me to remain connected to our customers. Helping people with self-service was a timely reminder that many of our customers are experiencing some kind of vulnerability, even if they don’t require social work support.” – Fiona
“When it’s busy, it’s non-stop, and you get to help so many people in such a short time. Some customers seemed completely overwhelmed and being able to show them how to quickly complete their task and seeing the relief and appreciation on their face was great.” – Carlie
“Being involved in Christmas in the Network gave me the chance to experience the atmosphere of working in a service centre, and the opportunity to serve customers face-to-face, which I enjoy. My favourite part of this experience was getting to meet customers in person and assist them with their issues.” – Daniel