Meet Neil, celebrating 40 years of working in a customer service role with Medicare.


My name is Neil, I work at the Caboolture Service Centre for Services Australia. Medicare is one of the programs that we do and it’s one of the services that we offer. 

I still enjoy what I’m doing. I still pinch myself that I can think that it’s 40 years since I’ve been here but I still enjoy it and it still challenges me every day. 

The Medicare program was announced and they were advertising for staff and I saw the advert in The Courier-Mail for Medicare staff, so I sent off a little letter, handwritten letter, to apply for a job as a Service Officer in the Medicare program. It’s something that I always wanted to do, serve customers face to face. I’ve got my original letter of employment. It was such an exciting time. 

We were doing our training and everything and they were still painting, putting the carpet down. I still remember the smell of the carpet. Look, it was pretty exciting, we got there probably an hour beforehand because we knew that, you know, all the big bosses, the regional managers and whatever, were going to be there because this was a brand new office. 

I do remember with one of the other full time team members, it was a bit of a race to see who could get the first person that came in and that didn’t take too long. It’s still all about the customer. It’s still ensuring that we listen to the customer and we listen to their needs and then to be able to position them to be able to get an outcome for them. 

It certainly gives you time to reflect on the reasons I wanted to be here and why I’m still here. Probably 40 years ago I would never have thought that would have been me. 

Our universal health care system plays an important role in every Australian’s life. The first day of February 2024 marks the 40-year anniversary of Medicare – and it’s changed a lot in 40 years. From paper forms and fax machines to today’s digital claims, Medicare has evolved over the years. 

It’s also been 40 years since Neil Dabelstein started with Medicare. 

I started my training in the Cannon Hill Medicare office in January 1984 while it was still being finished. The painting, carpet and signage were still being done!

You had an extra sense of excitement and pride when the doors finally opened. I remember we all had a race to serve the first customer. 

I feel so proud of my time with Medicare due to the wonderful friendships we made with customers though their births of children and health struggles. They became our ‘friends’ and would recognise you on days off and the weekend.

Since 1984, Medicare has helped with the cost of seeing a doctor, getting medicines and accessing mental health care. 

In the past financial year alone, Services Australia delivered close to 460 million claims to over 26.5 million Medicare customers. 

When Neil started in 1984, customers were coming into a service centre to claim cash rebates. 

Today, the quickest way to claim your Medicare benefit is at your doctor’s office straight after you pay. 

Neil continued his career with Services Australia and is now a team leader at the Caboolture Service Centre in Queensland. 

I still to this day feel an immense sense of pride being part of a truly wonderful national health system.

I’m proud to have been here from the beginning, and of the small part I play in serving our customers.

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