Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said South Melbourne’s available lease extensions have been exhausted and extensive searches for alternate locations in and around the area have been unsuccessful.
“Services Australia has actively explored alternate property solutions on 17 occasions since 2020, advertised through an open tender and explored co-location with other government agencies, but unfortunately no suitable sites were identified or available,” Mr Jongen said.
“The agency looked further afield at areas neighbouring South Melbourne but the properties either did not meet requirements and standards, such as accessibility, or were not offered by landlords.
“Services Australia is committed to servicing the inner city Melbourne community and will continue to look at the mixture of services on offer and how the agency can improve connections with people in need.”
Mr Jongen said every effort had been made to retain the service centre and it was unfortunate there was no other suitable option.
While all avenues to identify a new site in and around South Melbourne are exhausted for the time being, Services Australia is open to considering new opportunities that may arise in the future.
Mr Jongen said help is available for residents to adjust to this change.
Services Australia staff from South Melbourne will be redeployed to a number of neighbouring service centres to support a continuity of the same familiar faces servicing the community.
The nearest alternative service centres are located in the suburbs of Prahran (Windsor Service Centre) and Abbotsford (Yarra Service Centre), both approximately 4 km away.
Windsor Service Centre will be refurbished with a contemporary new environment and improved range of services which will be more tailored to individual needs. For example, people will have the option to book in to see a staff member face-to-face at a time that suits them, so they can get on with the things that matter most to them.
Customers who may be keen on finding out more about their digital options will be able to book free digital coaching sessions to get help accessing myGov and their Centrelink online accounts, using upgraded self service facilities or their own devices.
Mr Jongen said Services Australia’s specialist staff will continue supporting vulnerable community members on the ground at over 14 locations across the inner city area.
“Community Engagement Officers and Multicultural Service Officers will continue to visit 10 locations, including the Sacred Heart Mission, St Kilda Crisis Contact Centre, Melbourne City Mission and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre regularly,” Mr Jongen said.
“A Community Partnership Specialist Officer is based at the Salvation Army Project 614 every day, which continues to provide the most vulnerable with access to Centrelink services in a place they already go for support.
“Services Australia also has a specialist at the Father Bob Maguire Foundation in South Melbourne, while specialists also visit Launch Housing Southbank and Launch Housing South Melbourne one day per week.”
South Melbourne Service Centre will close on Friday 27 October. There will be no job losses and all staff will relocate to surrounding services centres.