G’day, my name’s Peter Horbury and I’ve been working at what is now SSRV since late 2000, when it was called the Welfare Rights Unit (WRU).
In that time, I’ve seen lots of changes to the organisation, Centrelink, social security law and related areas.
Before I began working at the then WRU I worked in student finances and housing at LaTrobe Uni. It was in my role as a Student financial advisor that I became aware of WRU. In fact, I was on the Board of WRU for a couple of years in the mid-1990s.
In my previous role I had a lot to do with financial counsellors and so I know many of the ‘old guard’ of financial counselling.
When I started work at WRU, Gillian Wilks (current Director of SSRV) was running the Federation of Community Legal Centres in a building in the city which I’m fairly sure is about to become the new safe injecting room.
In 2000, WRU was renting space from what is now Co-Health on Hoddle St in Collingwood. At the time I was the only full-time staff member. We had three part-time staff in addition to me and about five volunteers.
In 2009 we changed our name, and in 2010 we moved to Fitzroy North. In 2011 the structure of the organisation changed, and we got our first Director. In the early ‘teens’ we had student volunteers including a large cohort from the new law school at ACU.
My main role in those days was assisting with the advice line and administrative services. I’m now the Operations & Intake Co-ordinator. This role includes a range of responsibilities associated with reception, triage, intake, administration and operational matters. I will most often be the person who answers calls to the SSRV Legal Assistance Line.
I was the treasurer of the then National Welfare Rights Network (the peak body of organisations like SSRV) for around a decade.
I love working at SSRV because of the way we help people sort out issues to do with income. When you’ve got income, other stuff becomes easier – you can pay the rent, you can eat, you can care for the kids etc. Without income, these things become very difficult.
Personally, I barrack for Richmond in the AFL and Williamstown in the VFL (so it’s been a few good years, though two missed set shots in 2019 would have given me ‘the double’). I collect Trivial Pursuit games and Oz rock. I’m the treasurer and play bass in the band at a local Baptist Church.