CentrelinkThis marker was unveiled before an enthusiastic group of former and present Centrelink staff, former residents of Enterprise and invited guests by Senator Marise Payne, Minister for Human Services on August 28th, 2015

Welcome

This occasion is of great significance for this community and the Springvale Centrelink office.   It clearly demonstrates how positive change will occur when all interested parties get together, respecting each other’s views with an absolute commitment to improving the way services are provided.

And the parties involved are often surprised about how cooperation can make their working life more interesting and enjoyable. When I did the first consultation with past and present Centrelink staff I asked them why they were so different. They had come to a very different community – one which was inclusive and committed to working with each other. I was told ‘going out of the office was something which we had never done before, and but the community just expected us to do it. And we did and found how much we enjoyed it The staff added:

From a DHS point of view, I believe Springvale Social Security was at the forefront of our now current Strategic Direction. Even way back then, we saw a need to assist our vulnerable customers by taking services to the community.  In the 1980’s & 90’s it was totally unheard of for staff in a government department to step outside of their building to provide services in the community.  For us, it was never an issue even without our current technology we were able to see customers, process claims and have payments made within a few days of people arriving in the country

I saw the Springvale Office’s involvement with Enterprise as very important from two perspectives. Firstly many of the staff lived locally and their direct involvement gave them a great understanding of the hardships potential new members of this community faced. I saw this as assisting the migrants’ integration. Secondly, working closely with community organisations on joint solutions assisted the department’s integration in Springvale and acceptance as part of the solution.

 So today we celebrate the many achievements over those early years and the continuing good work of this current office.

Springvale has had many firsts. One of those which comes to mind today is that the first Victorian Multicultural advisory group of the Department of Social Security was an idea that was developed by the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau

The Enterprise Trail, part of the larger Spirit of Enterprise project continues to tell the stories giving policy makers and the community the opportunity to learn – in this case the way in which rich, diverse, harmonious communities can be built. They are your stories and we thank you for sharing them with us. You have created a project of national significance.

The Text on the Marker

This marker acknowledges an extraordinary and unique collaboration between various Springvale community service organisations – including the office of the Australian Government’s former Department Social Security (now Centrelink), which opened on this site in 1986.

 At the time this office was opened, there were large numbers of migrants arriving in Springvale, many of whom lived at the Enterprise Migrant Hostel. Most new residents at the hostel arrived with very little money, and with little knowledge of how to begin their new life in Australia. It was important that the Department of Social Security, and other community organisations, worked quickly and effectively to deliver various government services, including unemployment benefits.

 In response to this need, strong networks and collaborative work practices were developed between various local community organisations and service providers, including the Department of Social Security, Commonwealth Bank, Springvale Community Aide and Advice Bureau, Springvale Indo Chinese Mutual Assistance Association, Springvale Benevolent Society, and health organisations.

Staff at the Springvale office of the Department of Social Security transformed the way they worked, and a unique outreach service for the Enterprise Migrant Hostel was developed – with staff from multiple community organisations working together on site at the hostel. Collectively they provided an efficient and effective service to meet the needs of the residents – such as providing information about living in Australia and helping new residents apply for social security entitlements. The use of interpreters helped people to access government services much more easily.This unique and co-operative way of working was highly successful, and staff from the Department of Social Security and other organisations were soon invited to join in with community activities – indicating they were trusted by, and integrated with, the Enterprise residents and local community organisations.

Former employees of the Springvale office who worked at the Enterprise Migrant Hostel, describe the work as extraordinary and highly rewarding. They have wonderful memories of the hostel, the many languages spoken, and the friendliness shown to them by all.

Springvale, to this day, is testament to how innovative thinking, positive attitudes and a warm welcome can build strong, cohesive and vibrant communities.

Quotation: ‘The community made sure we were part of their networks. We participated in their meetings and activities. It opened up a whole new world for us and we really enjoyed it."