For Luke Neylan and Richard Harrison there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people turn their lives around against the odds.
They work with some of the most vulnerable people in the Hunter region, including the homeless, helping them access government services and support.
“It’s really rewarding work,” Richard said.
“Ultimately it’s down to the person themselves but we can give them the best opportunity possible and help them move forward.
“It’s great when you see people succeed despite all their challenges.”
The Community Engagement Officers from the Department of Human Services spend a lot of time on the road visiting people in homeless shelters or community organisations, working with them face to face.
“A lot of people we help have many barriers which prevent them coming into the office,” Luke said.
We build really positive relationships in their own space to help break down those walls.
“It’s about building our profile and being known in the community. We’re there to try to help in any way we can.”
This week they’ll be part of a team working from Golden Wattle, one of the department’s Mobile Service Centres at the Hunter Homeless Connect Day on Wednesday 7 August, at the Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre. The 20 tonne truck has been purpose built to replicate a service centre, complete with the latest technology.
Staff will be able to help people with a range of enquiries including Centrelink claims, as well as Medicare and online services.
“The Hunter Homeless Connect Day is in its tenth year,” Luke said. “It’s a fantastic event and it’s only getting bigger. It’s non-judgemental, people can come and roam around and see what support is available.”
People who need help or would like to ask a question are being encouraged to jump on board Golden Wattle. It’s a free service and no appointments are necessary.