Retirement Life

Wed, 31 Oct, 2018Basmah Qazi

Good news: The change Centrelink has just announced

Good news: The change Centrelink has just announced

After 48 million calls were left unanswered in the last financial year, Centrelink has announced that they will be employing 1500 extra staff to keep up with the demand.

According to the figures, 47,950,425 million calls to the welfare organisation had to deal with a busy line, while 5,313,954 were abandoned.

Those wanting to reach out were left flustered and angry as complaints increased by 237,000 in the last year, which was an extra 68,000 than the year before, according to The Courier Mail.

The government organisation is in charge of providing and keeping track of welfare payments throughout the country, and one major age bracket that has been affected are the elderly.

Those wanting an update on their pension applications and payments were left on hold for hours and after the long wait, failed to receive adequate answers.

To improve the service and minimise complaints, the Federal Government revealed that it would be adding an increased amount of call centre numbers as the demand was increasing per year.

In the first four months of 2018, a massive 10,986,832 calls had to deal with the busy signal.

Michael Keenan, the Human Services Minister, announced in a press conference that Centrelink plans to hire 800 staff members who have extensive experience working in Australian-based call centres.

“We will be putting on an extra 1500 people within the department of human services to improve processing times and to improve our performance on our telephone services,” he said.

“This announcement is on top of the 1250 staff we’ve already announced that we will be putting on.”

Mr Keenan believes the extra hands will help keep up with the amount of calls Centrelink receives in a day.

“It’s very important that when people need the support of the government they know that they can contact us in a reasonable timeframe and they are going to be dealing with someone who knows exactly what they are doing,” he said.

And even though the abundance of complaints has forced the government to add an increased amount of staff, Mr Keenan hopes that digital communication will be introduced to the welfare service in the near future.

“Over time I certainly would much prefer that people interact with us through digital channels and we’ve got a very significant transformation program within my department that is going to make accessing those channels as easy as possible.”

He said that hopefully, it would result in a “significant reduction in telephone calls".

“Because it’s much more convenient for people to interact with us when they feel like it.”

Rachel Stewart, the acting Co-Deputy Leader of the Greens, said that the government made the right decision in hiring more staff, but it’s disappointing it took them this long to take action.

“While it’s welcome that the department has started to focus on reducing unanswered calls, I’d hazard a guess that it’s because they keep getting called out for the millions of calls going unanswered, estimates after estimate,” she said in a statement.

“There have been significant staff cuts and this year we have seen reports of students going an entire semester without their payment being processed and pensioners going months waiting for the claims to be processed.”

Miss Stewart believes that the staff cuts were not a wise decision, and with the increased amount of calls, it was a decision made due to bad judgement.

“We need a stable, well trained workforce and the Government should commit to reinstating the nearly 1200 jobs cut from the Department of Human Services in the 2017-18 Budget,” she said.

“Older Australians, single parents, students and those looking for work should not have to be put through these significant hurdles just to reach Centrelink and get a payment they are entitled to.”

How do you feel about the new changes Centrelink is implementing? Let us know in the comments below.