Miles Busfield, Operations and Intake Worker

I first started with SSRV as a student volunteer in mid-2021 as a part of the Monash Clinical Placement Program. Being a third-year law student at the time, this placement was an invaluable step in my professional development.

SSRV staff provided a constructive environment to learn the foundations of social security law and their kindness and patience gave me a great appreciation for those working within the community legal sector.

My placement at SSRV taught me a lot about how Centrelink works (or doesn’t), but this was not my first experience with Centrelink. In 2017, I moved to Melbourne from Perth to pursue my studies. Before my work here, I supported myself by receiving Youth Allowance along with a series of insecure casual jobs. During this time, I became familiar with the failures of Centrelink and the terror and confusion you can feel when interacting with them.

A regular thought running through my head was, “Will this simple call to update my address be a quick five-minute affair, or will I be waiting two hours on hold to be informed that I have a $5,000 debt and that my payments have been permanently cancelled?”

On completion of the placement in late-2021, I was offered a position within SSRV’s intake and administration team where I have worked since. I work alongside our Operations and Intake Co-ordinator, Peter Horbury, as the first point of contact for individuals seeking legal information and advice regarding Centrelink issues.

When answering the phone, I make it my goal to clearly understand the caller’s circumstances and provide them with support that prioritises their primary concerns. Individuals accessing our services are often dealing with a myriad of other issues such as homelessness or family violence. It is paramount that we make an informed decision about whether we are able to address their most immediate concerns or whether another service is more appropriate.

Outside of work, I live with my partner and two cats and aim to complete my studies and start practising as a lawyer in the community sector within the next two years.

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