Stepping up to save services

For several years, there has been talk of plans to close the Stawell office of Centrelink in regional Victoria.

One CPSU member at Stawell, who would personally be deeply affected if the site were to be closed, is Megan.

Megan lives a considerable distance from the office and is the mother of four boys who go to primary school near her workplace in Stawell.

If the Stawell office closed, Megan would not be able to get her sons to school from the family farm and then drive 65km from Stawell to the nearest Centrelink office in Horsham, where she was told she would have to work.

Crunch time

Recently, local staff were told that the closure was likely to occur in March this year, as the lease on the building was to expire.

The announcement coincided with a busy time for Megan with shearing season on the family farm and a number of other family responsibilities.

Understandably distressed by the decision and without a local workplace delegate, Megan contacted Luke Baker, CPSU delegate in the nearby Horsham Centrelink office.

Luke offered his support and advice to help develop strategies to take action.

The pair had several late night conversations and Luke said, “while Megan clearly had the will and the necessary skills, she felt taking action could be risky - the Department was too big and it might be better to let DHS nature take its course.”

That’s when Luke arranged for his CPSU organiser, Eleanor Kennedy, to contact Megan.

Eleanor helped Megan to develop her confidence, plan out her strategy and contact a local government councillor to arrange a meeting to discuss the issue.

Stepping up

With Luke by her side for support, Megan met with the councillor at a local café and explained the impact the closure would have on vulnerable community members including the disabled, elderly and disadvantaged locals.

Luke says, “Megan was able to communicate her community’s needs and the incredible detrimental impact it would have if the Stawell office was to close.”

Not long after the meeting, and with other local politicians adding their support to the push to save the office, DHS announced they had signed a new lease and the office would remain open.

Luke said, “I spoke to Megan after the announcement and she was incredibly excited by the win and relieved to know that had a job in Stawell and that her family would therefore be okay.”

Onward and upward

Inspired her experience, Megan has now stepped up to become the local CPSU delegate at the Stawell office and is booked in to attend training in Melbourne with other workplace delegates.

It goes to show that with the support of CPSU delegates and organisers, members can achieve wonderful things.

Want to step up in your workplace?

If you’re interested in stepping up and becoming more active yourself, contact your CPSU delegate, organiser or click here to find out more.