November marks a decade since the first Australian Government Mobile Service Centre (MSC) set-off from Parliament House, Canberra, on its first ever service tour through the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
The outreach service launched in 2006 with the mission of bringing face-to-face government support to drought-hit farming communities, including Centrelink services and social work support.
Project manager at the time, Michelle Lees, coordinated the MSC’s maiden tour and says the first customer aboard made a big impression.
“The first customer was an older male farmer who was seeking social work rather than income support”, Michelle said.
“As someone whose father is a farmer I know how much pride and stigma can play a role in the decision to seek help, and I appreciated how much this man must have needed support for him to reach out to government.
“It affirmed for me that we had the service offer right in ensuring we had social work involvement – a service that’s remained aboard to this day.”
Over the past decade, the MSC has since made around 170 visits to towns across the Southern Tablelands.
Michelle said the first mobile office – a converted Winnebago – was hugely innovative when it launched in 2006.
“It was the first time we had taken a fulsome mobile service on the road that was supported by technology that could work remotely from our offices.
“The project really pushed the boundaries of what was possible in servicing because we didn’t have remote ICT before this,” she said.
Today, the service is a pair of sleek, high-tech, nationally touring MSCs equipped to deliver the same Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services as any other Department of Human Services Service Centre.
Over the past 10 years, the MSCs have covered almost 700,000 kilometres, helped over 120,000 customers, visited more than 3800 towns and been deployed to 20 disaster situations.
Read more about the department’s Mobile Service Centres.