Wangaratta duo keep national outreach service rolling

Ian driving Mobile Service Centre Golden Wattle

Andrew Gregory and Ian Cleghorn agree that helping run the two-vehicle Mobile Service Centre (MSC) fleet is the best job.

Both based at the Department of Human Services Wangaratta Service Centre in north east Victoria, they’re celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the outreach service this month.

Each play a critical yet vastly different role in making sure the MSCs keep truckin’ to bring face-to-face Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services to rural and regional communities across Australia.

Andrew takes care of logistics, while Ian drives the MSCs – and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I was part of the original team who, with our individual skills, knowledge and abilities clicked instantly to launch and hit the road with this new initiative,” said Andrew.

“I don’t believe those first few weeks of servicing would have gone as well as it did without the staff who were dedicated to making it work.”

As one of the two remaining members of the MSC team Andrew has seen a massive transformation in the way the department delivers the services on board.

“It has been a privilege to watch how each MSC has evolved to what the model is today, with innovative technology which allows us to deliver the same services that are available in the city,” said Andrew.

On reflection, Andrew says work on the road has given him the most challenging yet enriching experiences.

“Working to provide assistance to communities in times of emergency stands out in my mind,” said Andrew.

“Black Saturday in 2009 was without a doubt the most difficult two weeks of my 30 year career. It was confronting and emotionally inspiring that in the midst of such tragedy we were able to help people take the first steps to recovery.”

According to Andrew, life on the MSC is the perfect mix of everything he loves in life.

“To be able to combine my love of rural Australia and helping people in need is quite unique. I can’t think of any other role that I would rather be doing,” said Andrew.

Ian and Andrew standing out the front of a Mobile Service Centre
Ian and Andrew standing in front of one of the department’s Mobile Service Centres.

Ian is a MSC driver, one of many behind-the-scenes staff members that have helped make the service what it is, ten years after it kick-started.

The 58-year-old spends a lot of his time behind the wheel of the MSC known as ‘Desert Rose’ and said in his 30 years in the transport business, it’s one of the best jobs he’s had.

“This is a fantastic job, it’s really good and it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve helped out someone who often didn’t know they had entitlements before visiting us.”

Ian’s job is to drive a MSC to each location, set it up so it’s ready for customers and help out wherever else he can.

He said another great aspect of his job is the changes in scenery he gets to experience.

“Some days I get to enjoy a great view of the ocean, but I also love going inland to places like outback Queensland where we really help out.

Many farmers are having a tough time out there and that’s where we come into our own.”

Ian says he can see a real passion and fierce desire to help in the staff members around him and he said that’s what makes the service invaluable.

“I have found that what’s unique to this job is the keenness of staff in these mobile centres to help out.

“I honestly think everyone believes what they do is making an important difference and when you have that sort of positivity in a team you’re only going to be a positive influence on the lives of others.”

Ian has worked in a number of different roles but he feels set and happy with where he is at this point in his career.

“I have no plans on going anywhere, I honestly really enjoy it and I know finding a job you really like is not the easiest thing in the world, but I have managed to do it here.”

In the last ten years the Mobile Service Centres have covered almost 700,000 kilometres, helped over 120,000 customers and visited more than 3800 towns.

Mobile Service Centre 'Desert Rose'
Mobile Service Centre ‘Desert Rose’.
More information

Read more about the department’s Mobile Service Centres.