The results show that dealing with Centrelink is getting easier

YourLifeChoices research shows that people are generally happier with their Centrelink interactions.

The results show that dealing with Centrelink is getting easier

The nature of dealing with a government department is that the people who have difficulties have their voices amplified by the media, while you very rarely hear stories about those who find the experience pleasant.

Bearing that in mind, even we were surprised at the latest finding from the most recent YourLifeChoices Retirement Matters survey, which showed that, generally, most members rated their dealings with Centrelink as excellent.

On a scale of one to five (with one being very poor and five being excellent), we asked members to rate their dealings with Centrelink. The average response rated the interaction at 4.7.

This result was a massive improvement over when we asked the question a year ago and the average response was three.

We also asked members to explain the reason why they selected their rating, which did contain some positive feedback for the government department.

“I haven't had any problems of late, they have improved greatly in customer service over the last few years,” said one member.

“When dealing with Centrelink for my mother-in-law regarding payments of her pension the staff were excellent and resolved the issue,” said another.

“I started off with a part pension and then became a full pensioner with the help and understanding of Centrelink, which helped me with kindness and patience through this process,” said another satisfied customer.

People were also glowing in their praise of Centrelink’s Financial Information Service officers and their online information process.

“The human services website is very clear and easy to navigate. There is an excellent tool called the Payment and Services Finder to estimate entitlements to Centrelink payments.”

“Their Financial Information Service officers have always been very professional and helpful in negotiating retirement planning and options.”

Of course, the comments also delivered a fair share of responses indicating that Centrelink’s record was less than perfect over the past year. Here is just a small sample of what those on the other side of the argument had to say.

“Long delays to see a member of staff. Too many young people and not easy to discuss issues with them. More older staff to assist and quicker turnaround needed. No point in trying to call on the phone. Long delays.”

“[They] don't have an understanding of the process – also takes a long time to resolve a query or simple question.”

“Centrelink lacks compassion when it comes understanding my personal situation.”

“Very slow service provider. I feel sorry for the frontline staff, but Centrelink needs to put on more staff.”

“I feel like I'm going around in circles trying to get answers from Centrelink – I'm not always sure what they mean when they do explain things and feel embarrassed to keep asking the same question.”

When the results of the YourLifeChoices survey were presented to Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen, he said:

"The department is mid-way through our Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) programme, a business and customer-led program underpinned by replacing Centrelink’s ageing IT system with new and innovative technology. This will modernise the way the department delivers welfare services, and includes improvements for older Australians.

"For example, we’ve made it easier for couples to claim the Age Pension. Combined Age Pension forms were previously only available on paper, but couples now have the option of completing their joint application online, making it easier for customers to make their claim.

"We have recently made it easier for customers who are registered for online services to transfer from Newstart Allowance, Carers Payment and Disability Support Pension to Age Pension. These customers can complete a simple online task to confirm their details, instead of filling in a paper form.

"Nominees (including organisational nominees like financial advisors) can now claim online on behalf of the person they are acting for. Previously the individual was required to log on themselves and make a claim with the help of their nominee.

"We’ve made it easier for customers to claim online by introducing new online claims including for Pensioner Education Supplement and Disability Support Pension claims."

Do you think Centrelink is improving? What has been your experience?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Spud
    12th Sep 2019
    9:55am
    Yes if you get a centre with sympathetic staff it can be a positive experience
    sunnyOz
    12th Sep 2019
    2:40pm
    More than sympathetic, trained. The number of staff I have had to explain about the work bonus, just a joke.
    Arvo
    12th Sep 2019
    10:43am
    Yes, they are improving but, I used to have a mobile phone code to enter MyGov but I discontinued that after experiencing long delays to get the phone code to login, so I went back to password only. Another reason was that when my mobile phone went dead full stop (no, not the battery, but the system) I had no way of logging in. I had to buy a new mobile phone and use the old sim card to get the code. I didn't want to experience that again. My laptop works fine, just got to remember the password and the secret id's that follow and it's easy and fast. No , I don't use the mobile Express App they can be easily hacked and compromised.
    Arvo
    12th Sep 2019
    10:46am
    Also, should the laptop pack up I can go to the local library to access MyGov.
    McDaddy
    12th Sep 2019
    11:00am
    Laptop at Library on wifi not very secure. The Express Plus app via mobile phone, much more secure.
    McDaddy
    12th Sep 2019
    11:00am
    Laptop at Library on wifi not very secure. The Express Plus app via mobile phone, much more secure.
    Greg
    12th Sep 2019
    11:36am
    To be honest though that's not Centrelink issues, that's MyGov which is just a central way to access gov sites.
    Triss
    12th Sep 2019
    11:06am
    CentreLink are finding that when people have been pushed into jumping too many hoops they fight back. Robodebt victims have taken CentreLink to court and had their debts wiped and disabled who have been put on Newstart have fought back and been put back on disability benefits.
    musicveg
    15th Sep 2019
    7:26pm
    But who is paying for the court cases and who is making the money from the court cases?
    Realist
    12th Sep 2019
    11:18am
    “Long delays to see a member of staff. Too many young people and not easy to discuss issues with them. More older staff to assist and quicker turnaround needed. No point in trying to call on the phone. Long delays.”

    The quote above, is my experience. MOST of the staff are OK.

    My long time position is "we" (Old Folk on the pension) need to be detached from Centrelink. Enormous efficiencies exist dispensing with the One Size Fits All - of the 200 Billon dollar "behemoth" we know as Centrelink.

    Anecdotal evidence is one thing and Governments are not known for researching solutions, that could provide real savings/answers, rather, they are better know for their hateful ideologies (On both sides).

    @Spud - your comment is so true - it can be life changing.
    Triss
    12th Sep 2019
    5:23pm
    And yet, when MPs step out of parliament they step into gold with no arguing or standing in a queue to fill in forms...Tony Abbott, for instance, was given $300,000 plus per annum indexed. Corrupt practice? That would be my opinion.
    musicveg
    15th Sep 2019
    7:29pm
    Would be better if the pension was completely separate but it is not going to happen because everything these days is amalgamated to save money for the high pensions of ex pollies.
    Greg
    12th Sep 2019
    11:43am
    Still took four months to get a renewed Health Care Card, April it expired, filled in the online forms three weeks earlier when I received the renewal, phoned once in June "Just be patient won't be much longer". Get a phone call from them wanting more information which was out of the scope of eligibility but I answered anyway. Phoned them again in August, sorry they are very busy, I'll put you down as urgent and then received a phone call a couple of hours later, asked my another question about a particular asset and, bingo, approved that day and card received a week later.

    Don't know ho long I would've waited if I didn't phone them, already one third of the year had gone.
    Jim
    12th Sep 2019
    12:14pm
    I found dealing with Centrelink a terrible experience. Over about 2 weeks I visited Cl about 6 times as a result of changing my investments. Many of the staff seemed to be completely untrained -or incompetent- and this problem is magnified by seeing a different person on each occasion and having to cover the same material for which it seemed the previous interviewer had left no notes on her/his interview. There was a problem with their grasping the fact that I was changing not only the amounts of individual investments but also the types of investents. I was compelled to present some documents three times, to different interviewers, before they even read the documents sufficiently to understand them. Added to this was that I could not use on-line delivery of documents because the program would not recognise the name of a small new bank with which I had placed a term deposit. To my knowledge that is still the situation, so that on-line factual information to Centrelink is not available to me. James Shelton
    Jim
    12th Sep 2019
    12:14pm
    I found dealing with Centrelink a terrible experience. Over about 2 weeks I visited Cl about 6 times as a result of changing my investments. Many of the staff seemed to be completely untrained -or incompetent- and this problem is magnified by seeing a different person on each occasion and having to cover the same material for which it seemed the previous interviewer had left no notes on her/his interview. There was a problem with their grasping the fact that I was changing not only the amounts of individual investments but also the types of investents. I was compelled to present some documents three times, to different interviewers, before they even read the documents sufficiently to understand them. Added to this was that I could not use on-line delivery of documents because the program would not recognise the name of a small new bank with which I had placed a term deposit. To my knowledge that is still the situation, so that on-line factual information to Centrelink is not available to me. James Shelton
    TREBOR
    12th Sep 2019
    12:18pm
    Apologist ........

    The essence of providing a service is to provide a service - oddly enough - so when an amazing percentage of users of that service are dissatisfied - say even as low as 20% which I feel is low - that service is not a service at all, but a useless tool or even a blunt instrument with which to beat people.

    I'm satisfied with my interaction with Colonel C'Link - I don't deal with them unless absolutely necessary and I don't waste any time on the phone at all... I set the terms of my interaction with them, and thus cannot be dissatisfied.

    Take back the asylum... they don't own you - you own them....
    GeeDub
    12th Sep 2019
    12:45pm
    DEFINITELY WORSE from our perspective. First, we waited nearly one and a half hours at Strathpine to see an officer; we had to leave because NO TOILETS! Second, we sent a simple query to Canberra by letter (that was the purpose of the unrequited Strathpine visit) asking about reporting VERY variable rental income. We got returned a MOD R form that is to report new property which was not relevant; we had an existing one reported years ago! Third, one could once email a previously seen officer to make an appointment which seemed sensible and sane for all concerned . That was stopped; so one sees any old joe or joess now. Four, there seems to be nowhere on the Centrelink website for notification of changes to rental income - up or sown. They are fussy about exchange rates which are usually just a few dollars one way or another but not so for rental income which can change substantially. Five, we put in online changes to Superannuation mix. Initially, this seemed all right but a day or two later reverted to all the old data! And this despite our PDF document WITH the changes ensconced nicely in the 'in folder'!?!? Individual staff can be and have been excellent. The service overall in respect to personal interface? Ghastly balderdash.
    Tricky
    12th Sep 2019
    1:00pm
    Can we have another REVIEW of Centrelink and the MINISTER concerned!
    Gilbert
    12th Sep 2019
    2:44pm
    Once you manage to get hold of them on the phone then there is no problem they are very helpful, is getting them that's the problem.
    GeorgeM
    12th Sep 2019
    4:43pm
    I must have missed this survey, how it was formulated, etc. Somehow, I can't believe these results. Any Dept that implements a RoboDebt system which is wrong over 20% of the time for claiming back money must be in a serious mess. Any sensible business with such a faulty tool would have suspended it immediately. The supporters of RoboDebt, Jongen and his team, must go urgently for new customer-oriented thinking to emerge.

    As we saw from a Monash University survey recently published by YLC, dealing with Centrekink is bad for health, especially mental health, of people. The less we deal with Centrelink, the better for us and less costs for the Govt. It is time to scrap the Broken Age Pension system and Centrelink's role of eligibility assessments, and replace it with Universal Age Pension paid by the ATO based only on Age and Residency, with NO other tests.
    Big Kev
    20th Sep 2019
    2:08pm
    Once you get through, staff are good to deal with. You asked the wrong question. The big problem is the hours of waiting. I have seen peoples phone battery go flat waiting to get through and then have to start the hours long wait all over again.
    sainter
    4th Oct 2019
    8:27am
    Nearly all staff,with exceptions are fairly good.But as said by others waiting on the phone
    is real problem and the waiting times at officers of Centrelink is a problem,but i have found
    the information you need will vary with staff,i have been given the right info mostly,but also
    have received the wrong info quite a few times this is a big problem,that wrong info creates problems.


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