Federal award for top serving community officer

Federal award for top serving community officer
Brendan Rees

A well-respected CBD community officer who has dedicated his time to helping the vulnerable and people experiencing homelessness has been awarded a prestigious honour.

Nick Carbines, a Services Australia community partnership specialist officer, who is currently co-located at the Salvation Army’s Project 614 in Bourke St, has helped more than 530 customers since 2022 as part of a Community Partnership Pilot program.

He helps customers access and maintain payments and other agency services, those who may otherwise be isolated from mainstream support or unable to engage over the phone or navigate digital channels.

In recognition of his efforts, Mr Carbines was awarded a Public Service Medal in the 2024 Australia Day Honours List, which recognises outstanding service by employees of the Australian Government and state, territory and local government employees.

The award was for Mr Carbine’s “outstanding public service in the provision of payments and supporting those most vulnerable and experiencing homelessness across inner city Melbourne”.

“I’m grateful to have received a Public Service Medal. It’s caused me to reflect on my 22 years working as a community officer for Services Australia and in particular the previous 18 months in my new community partnership role based full-time at Project 614,” Mr Carbines told CBD News.

“It’s important for me to acknowledge my fellow team members in Community Partnership Specialist Officer (CPSO) roles at Services Australia. CPSOs are dedicated to bringing our payments and services to the most vulnerable members of Australia’s community.”


By being present and on-site where community members experiencing vulnerability gather means more equitable access to government services for those who need them most.


Mr Carbines said he was passionate about helping people who were facing hardship and disadvantage, and that he enjoyed the challenges and rewards of his role.

“I’ve heard tragic stories from customers throughout those decades. Everyone should understand that anyone can fall on hard times,” he said.

“If you don’t have support networks like family and friends – homelessness can come quickly. In many cases, circumstances leading to vulnerability are no fault of the individual.”

He said a crucial component of his role was advocacy and wraparound support, which included regular contact with housing and health services to help customers.

“Customers have said to me they now feel valued and respected because the government has recognised their difficulties and responded with genuine respect and compassion. It’s genuine gratitude and it’s powerful.”

One simple act he said that meant so much to a client was getting them approval for a proof of age card, after Mr Carbine was able to track down their birth certificate.

“The customer had not possessed photo identification for over 30 years. He held up the card, pointed at the photo and said, ‘That’s me!’ He gave me a hug. That was pretty amazing. With respect comes gratitude.” 

The award’s citation noted Mr Carbine’s “passion, experience, flexibility, and commitment in working with a very complex and hard to reach cohort is exemplary”. •

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