Agents: Frontline services for rural and remote Australia

When the Australian Government says it’s committed to providing services
to all Australians no matter where they are,
they mean it. There are, across Australia, people who work and live
among the people they serve. They’re the agents of
the Department of Human Services. Being an agent with
the Department of Human Services means you’re part of a critical team making a difference every day
in people’s lives. ROBERTA: There is a lot of respect
here throughout the community. I feel that the first few months
I’ve been, I’ve had people coming up and saying thank you for being there,
like, every day, and just helping out in what I do. NARRATOR: By being there at more
than 580 locations across Australia, agents and access points
make access to government services that much easier. JESSICA: It’s a huge service
to this community especially. They have to travel
at least 100km to get to a DHS office, but they can come in here, they can use the fax,
they can self-serve on the computer, use the phones. It’s a huge benefit, and they’re
always really appreciative. NARRATOR: And agents
almost always improve the lives of the people they help. LINDSAY: It gives me, you know,
a great feeling of success that I’ve actually, you know… I was there when I actually show them and they are coming in and they’re just doing it themselves. NARRATOR: This is Timber Creek
in the Northern Territory. It’s a long way from anywhere. Having an agent here has made
a huge difference to customers accessing departmental
and other government services. ROBERTA: Yeah, it’s very important
that they need an agent here, ’cause it’s, like,
another 360-kays drive to Katherine, or it’s, like, 260 towards Kununurra. And, like, some of these people here
don’t have vehicles, they don’t have IDs, identification, so it’s quite helpful
having an agent here. NARRATOR:
The ultimate goal of all agents is to help people
become self-sufficient, doing their own business
with DHS online, using the computers,
printers or fax machines available at the agent’s office. But sometimes an issue requires
more direct assistance. In this case,
it’s an issue of identification. Roberta spends time with the customer
on a dual phone system so she can help with questions. Agents aren’t always
in such isolated places. This is the rural town of Clare
in South Australia. The agents here
are a mother and daughter who work at
a State Government service centre. HAILEY: Each person that comes in
develops in a different way, so someone might come in, they don’t know how to use
our online self-service, we assist them with that, they grow, they end up coming in
and doing it themselves. NARRATOR: The goal of every agent
is to help people be self-sufficient, to be able to do the bulk of their
government business by themselves with assistance
only when they need it. JESSICA: We have to explain
the majority of the time that we are not a centre,
we’re an agent, so we can’t access
their personal details. NARRATOR: In the wide open spaces
of Western Australia in the tiny town of Roebourne, DHS agent Lindsay
works inside an historic building. It’s almost 40 degrees outside, and inside,
the air conditioning is struggling. But customers are here for help,
and that’s what Lindsay does best. Oh, see, you left it a tad too
long. See, all the sixes come up. NARRATOR: Lindsay believes
there are certain qualities an agent
should have or develop to be able to provide
a quality service. LINDSAY: You have to have patience, you have to be understanding
of issues that arise. NARRATOR: This video presents only
a snapshot of the vital work that a Department of Human Services
Agent does to ensure that people
in rural and remote locations have access to government services. To find your nearest agent
or access point, visit

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1 Response

  1. Disko Dan says:

    Interesting. Always wondered how people in remote communities kept in contact with Centrelink, Medicare etc.

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