Service NSW – representing the cultural diversity of the communities it serves

Service NSW was established in March 2013 as an innovative one-stop government service model, making it easier and simpler for NSW residents and businesses to do business with Government. 

Workforce cultural diversity is an integral asset for Service NSW, enabling the customer to be placed at the heart of a service delivery model that reflects the community it serves, delivering exceptional customer experience and outstanding employee engagement.

We spoke to a cross section of employees and customers to get their perspectives on why workforce cultural diversity and inclusion matters.

A portrait of Bill Byrne, Community Engagement and Diversity Manager, Service NSW

Bill Byrne - Community Engagement and Diversity Manager Service NSW

Delivering better services by representing the community  

You need to represent the community you serve. It’s that simple. I’ve seen it. In our business, customers are often completing complex transactions like proof of identity. It’s important that they understand what they are doing. When we first started out in Haymarket, we didn’t have Cantonese and Mandarin speakers on staff and the process could take up to 25 minutes or longer. With Cantonese and Mandarin speakers on board we were able to reduce the whole process to two minutes.

Aside from the obvious cost and efficiency gains to the business, when people can communicate in their first language, the whole process speeds up for them and there is stronger customer satisfaction.”

Photograph of Arsalan - Customer at Parramatta Service NSW Centre

Arsalan - Customer at Parramatta Service NSW Centre

“It’s important for staff to reflect the community because when we receive a service we are not disappointed. We get lots of help and they don’t take up our time.”

Photograph of Sangeeta Saxena - Service Centre Manager, Parramatta Service NSW

Sangeeta Saxena - Service Centre Manager, Parramatta Service NSW

Diversity brings great ideas and innovation

“Australia is a multicultural society and it’s important that our staff reflect the community. We are a very diverse team in Parramatta. We have a great mix of cultures.  It’s great. We get to enjoy everyone’s culture.” 

 “A great benefit of having such a diverse team is that it brings innovation and new ideas.  Diversity for me is innovation. It teaches us to be very open and agile, and to adapt to change - that’s a great benefit. In a diverse team the ways of thinking are different. One person may do something in their country in a way you’ve never thought about. People come up with new ideas all the time. Great ideas, the ability to think outside the box comes from diversity. It is great to see innovation encouraged.”

Photograph of Shreta Rajbhandari – Concierge, Parramatta Service NSW Centre

Shreta Rajbhandari – Concierge, Parramatta Service NSW Centre

Diversity helps to build customer trust

 “Our customers are from very different backgrounds. Because of our diversity it helps them. Diversity is our strength. 

Being able to talk to someone in their own language can help put them at ease. It relaxes them. It’s about trust. Our customers want a personal connection when they come in. We are able to empathise. And the next time they call in they look for us. We have a connection.”  

This is Australia. It’s multicultural and our diversity is an important part of that. It helps our organisation as well.” 

Photograph of Alisa - Customer at Parramatta Service NSW Centre

Alisa - Customer at Parramatta Service NSW Centre

“I think it’s useful that staff speak different languages. When I came in here today someone spoke to me in Nepalese.  

If you are served by someone from your own community it is good and secure too. You don’t feel afraid.”

Photograph of Violeta Naumovski - Customer Service Representative, Hurstville NSW Service Centre

Violeta Naumovski - Customer Service Representative, Hurstville NSW Service Centre

Share and be proud of your workplace cultural diversity

“Macedonian is my heritage, I’m Australian born, but I’m inquisitive.  

Understanding and being respectful of different cultures is what we do. Some people who use our service may have experienced government as being quite threatening. I try to make sure I don’t come across as authoritarian. I’m mindful of my body language, my tone and cultural differences like eye contact.  

It makes me proud to be working with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. I want to be able to give customers options, so if I know my colleague speaks Spanish and if my customer would be more comfortable speaking in Spanish, I can call on my colleague to help.    

Photograph of Mark Damerum - A/Service Centre Co-ordinator, Hurstville Service NSW

Mark Damerum - A/Service Centre Co-ordinator, Hurstville Service NSW

Be the best manager – be curious about culture and practise empathy to reach solutions  

“One of the challenges we can face is strongly ingrained belief systems and expectations. As a leader I try to understand differences quickly and I take an interest in people’s cultures and belief systems. Unless you know why they are saying something and what the reason is behind it, it’s very hard to come up with the solutions. You need to practise empathy as a leader.”