New pilot to support vulnerable Australians unveiled in Melbourne

A new community partnership pilot to better support Australians experiencing homelessness and other complex circumstances to access essential government help has been unveiled today between Services Australia and identified charitable organisations.

Under the pilot, Services Australia’s dedicated Community Partnership Specialist Officers (CPSOs) will work on site at the participating charitable organisations to connect people to payments and services based on their individual situations.

Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten visited the Salvation Army’s Melbourne Project 614 hub – the location of the Magpie Nest café to launch this special pilot.

Under phase 1 of the pilot, the four partner charitable organisations are:

  • Salvation Army: Melbourne Project 614 (Melbourne)
  • The Father Bob Maguire Foundation (Melbourne)
  • The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation (Sydney)
  • St Vincent de Paul Society Ozanam House (Darwin)

Minister Shorten was joined by Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle, Father Bob, and a number of elite athletes from Collingwood Football Club, who partner with Salvation Army and Coles to run the Magpie Nest café, which was also celebrating its 10th Birthday.

This initiative is designed to link the people who don’t have apps, computers and don’t even have a regular place to sleep.

“Since starting as Minister, one of my key priorities has been to make sure government services has a human face and a human touch,” Minister Shorten said.

“On any day, there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness, whether that’s sleeping rough, couch surfing, escaping domestic and family violence, or other traumatic situations.

“We have a lot of vulnerable Australians and so working with Services Australia, we developed a model that puts those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, at the centre.

“The partnerships focus on supporting people who don’t have a safe place to call home. Putting people at the centre, tailoring the service to what they need and in a setting that’s familiar and comfortable to them, is what this model stands for. 

“It’s about finding innovative ways for people in already tough situations to feel supported and confident to interact with government.

“The presence of dedicated CPSOs in these charitable organisations means they can provide additional support to their clients, like those who attend to access a free meal or hot shower, or to access essential grocery items, to ensure they’re also linked with the payments and services they need.”

The CPSOs for this pilot are experienced in working alongside community organisations and have been part of Services Australia’s existing network of Community Engagement Officers. These officers support people to claim payments, connect with government services in the best way for them and link them with community services where required. 

The Services Australia Community Outreach Specialists regularly visit a variety of locations, including facilities for people experiencing mental ill health, family and domestic violence services, drug and alcohol services, and youth services, to meet with people experiencing vulnerability.

“Services Australia has a strong history of improving access to government payments and services, and this partnership pilot is just the latest example of how the agency is working alongside other service organisations to support those in the community who need it the most,” Minister Shorten said.

The pilot will expand to 12 other non-government organisations during October 2022, bringing the total to 16 partner organisations around the country. 

Special guests for the launch of the initiative include beloved Diamonds Netballer and Collingwood AFLW player Ash Brazill, Sophie Garbin from the NSW Swifts, Molly Jovic and Jacqui Newton of Collingwood Magpies netball team, and  Collingwood AFLW player Sarah Rowe.