While I welcome additional staff, the Turnbull Government’s announcement that another 1,000 call centre operators will be contracted to Centrelink will not fix the problems caused by cuts to the agency.
Delays experienced by people on the Coast seeking help from Centrelink are the same right throughout Australia – unanswered calls and increased call wait times.
Nearly 300 people have contacted me for help with Centrelink, including the long waits for benefits to be approved. Many say they have given up trying to call Centrelink altogether because they never get through.
There are about 465 people employed in seven Centrelink workplaces on the Coast, including 300 who work in a call centre at Tuggerah. About 7 per cent of the call centre staff are casuals who have been working full-time and seeking permanent employment for more than three years.
Centrelink workers are committed, professional people, who are doing their best, but their offices are chronically under-resourced.
Centrelink staff deal with issues that affect all of us – Medicare, aged pensions, family payments and childcare.
Centrelink needs permanent staff who are familiar with the complex circumstances our community faces, and who are trained and equipped to deal with them.
Rather than the temporary fix of labour hire, we would be better served by more permanent staff employed in our local Centrelink offices.