Record abuse of Centrelink staff

It seems that tensions at Centrelink offices are boiling over.

Record abuse of Centrelink staff

It seems that tensions at Centrelink offices are boiling over, with a reported increase in the number of acts of aggression against Centrelink staff.


In the last 17 months 1055 duress alarms were used and Centrelink staff made 6569 reports of aggression. In response to the increased reports, Human Services Minister Kim Carr reported that a working group was looking at how to reduce aggression. Senator Carr also wants staff to have a wider range of options to deal with threatening behaviour, such as a wider use of apprehended violence orders.


In 2010-11 Centrelink spent $5 million on security guards, which were deployed to around 70 offices, and Senator Carr would like to see the police more heavily used when circumstances dictated.


Despite an increase in the number of call centre staff and the move of more services online, customers were reporting waits of an hour or more to speak to staff. This is bound to contribute to aggressive behaviour, especially when people were often distressed when calling or visiting Centrelink offices.


Read the full story at


    To make a comment, please register or login
    21st Sep 2012
    Touch wood, I've always found Centrelink staff to be pleasant or at least efficient.
    6th Oct 2012
    My experience with Centrelink Beenleigh Office is disastrous. Staff is highly incompetent, often aggressive, avoiding responsibility. Literally every second time I am forced to visit Beenleigh Office, it is for nothing; their own mistakes. In my calculations over 7 years: 30% of staff is very polite, competent, and helpful; 30% is incompetent, aggressive, and creating mess; 30% of staff is trying to cover up, repair, or white wash the incompetence. So, sack the 50% of staff, it will be cheaper, less mess and anger, and much better service. Recently, I talked over the phone with 'Senior' Customer Service Adviser (Canberra, name available). He told me that there is only $3,000 Work Bonus; while DHS portal says that it $6.500. Never trust what they say (they just brag from blue sky, and will put the blame on you - later), ask everything in writing, demand to stamp all your visits on their own papers they send to you with any requests (it is legal request, they could not refuse). Centrerlink bureaucracy killed 3 jobs I had - ask which way, I tell. They ignore reporting, advise to make false statements, provide misleading information, or blatantly say that they are incompetent (sic, at least honest), put the blame on the 'system' or computer 'glitches' (who is behind the ‘system’ or any computer?). In contrary to the DHS compliant advice, I have been refused appointment with the Beenleigh Office Manager; they said that 'there is no manager here' (name available). They do not attend appointments they call for. Once I was waiting one hour, while the Senior Centrelink Officer was giggling with her friend on private matters, just next to me. Once, dressed in gold like Christmas Tree, Centrelink Officer made on the spot $300.00 mistake, proved to have no idea about the system, nor any keyboard skills, The mistake was repaired by another officer, while staff commented (sic, sarcastically) that this 'Christams Tree' is Manager's girlfriend. No wander that Centrelink loses almost 50% cases in AAT – shame on your Mr Jongen, shame. They are NOT in 'social security' service, they are in job creation service (albeit, for themselves). It is time to end the farce and sack 50% of staff. Everybody will be better off.
    25th Oct 2012
    Phantom Office Manager at Beenleigh.

    Dear Mr Jongen, PSM
    General Manager, Centrelink
    Department of Human Services

    I am the '530 5.7.1 Client was not authenticated' you avoid the contact with.

    Please find attached a copy of my request lodged at the Centrelink Beenleigh Office on 23 October 2012.

    The person, who received and stamped the original request, confirmed that ‘the Centrelink does not work by the book’ (fair enough, probably everybody has already known it, including you).

    So, I hope that the request for a definitive confirmation who exactly is the Manager at the Centrelink Beenleigh will be solved soon (so, I would be able to go from it, as requested by your own regulations).

    I also hope that a formal Centrelink Statement for me wife Eva (CRN 420-756-111-X), will be issued immediately, due diligence.

    Strangely, your PA ‘Glenn’ wrote on your behalf: ‘he is not an expert on all policy and payment criteria, nor does he have access to customer records or responsibility for Service Centre staff.’

    Well, who is? Front Officers say the same, while Manager is perpetually absent, bogus ‘Managers’ are in ‘white wash’ type assistance, one may call and wait 3 days, only to be laugh at, or receive a laughable answer, letters are not responded to, even if their receipt is confirmed (evidence available); moreover, letters disappear under FOI.

    Yet, I naively believed that, in addition to entertaining public on TV, you also have some other statutory duties, such as Leadership, Compliance, Supervision, Delegation of Power, or at least a duty of diligent information.

    I noted a paramount impact on Australian society of your frequent appearance on the national TV:

    1. Little children are spooked as they think that you are a ‘bogeyman’ (they say you look so)

    2. Grannies are in panic for, according to Mr Mair of RBA, they stash $50,000 in $100 notes under their beds.

    3. The most resistant are old men, who are dying at waiting rooms of public hospitals, while waiting for a supposedly free medical attention. They do not watch TV, they just last in resignation.

    For example, I am waiting already twice for 2 years, with the futile hope that I will eventually manage to the phantom ‘waiting list’ for procedures which require half day visit (which will eventually happen, surely far beyond my life expectancy).

    In case you may be tempted to obfuscate this letter, I am sending its copy (including attachment), to pertinent persons and organisations. Thus, when eventually the time comes and my case will be presented to the SSAT, I will have full documentation, and confirmation that everybody who should be concerned was dully informed (including media).

    You have my permission to use all provided materials for publication in the News For Seniors (eventual royalties will be transferred to charity).

    5th Nov 2012
    I worked there for over 15 years, and, fortunately, we had more staff then, and more training. The abuse levels were always high, but not perpetrated by our lovely average clients. Now, from friends still employed there, it's become shocking, with newbies having litle or no training (it's very complex work), lower staff levels, and the Govt's desire for clients to use self-service as much as possible. Very difficult for both clients (sorry! customers!) and staff. There were 67 staff in my office when I began, and about 20 when I left!!
    12th Nov 2012
    But what about abuse directed by the Centrelink staff against its customers???
    So, the Centrelink provides lip service to its customers, more concerned with ‘job for boys’, than with its statutory duties.

    Read the text below:

    Centrelink decisions still overturned despite damning reports, Charlotte King, UC NEWS, 7 April 2012

    An investigation into Centrelink’s internal review model by the Commonwealth Ombudsman in March 2011 found that out of 100 appeals, 47 would be changed within the internal review process alone.

    The success rate of appeals against Centrelink to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) has not dropped despite measures to improve customers’ understanding of decisions, Centrelink’s latest annual report has shown.

    The SSAT, an independent review tribunal, received 9849 applications regarding Centrelink decisions in 2010-11, down nearly 17% from 2009-10. However, nearly one-third of original decisions were changed, a drop of only 0.2% from the previous financial year.

    This is despite Centrelink putting a new policy in place in November 2010 wherein review officers telephone customers about unfavourable decisions.

    “This [telephoning] initiative may have contributed to a decline in appeal requests made to external tribunals,” said Hank Jongen, the general manager of the Department of Human Services, which Centrelink was integrated into last July.

    But a spokesperson from the Welfare Rights Centre Sydney, a part of the National Welfare Rights Network, which provides legal advice to Centrelink clients making appeals, says poor Centrelink practices mean many people are still appealing decisions based solely on a lack of information.

    “The system is really poorly underfunded, and the quality of Centrelink decisions is often quite poor,” the spokesperson said, speaking on a condition of anonymity.

    “People think they get a poor deal and it’s often only when they go to the SSAT that they get a clear explanation as to why a decision was made,” the spokesperson said. “That should happen a lot earlier but it doesn’t.”

    This could explain why the number of appeals that were successful was essentially unchanged, proportionally, from when the initiative was not in place.

    Centrelink is also being blasted for providing poor customer service when it comes to appeals and reviews. The Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services, Kevin Andrews, attacked Centrelink over this in a media release last December.

    “Centrelink is spiralling out of control,” said Mr Andrews in the media release. “We’ve had damning reports from both the ANAO [Australian National Audit Office] and Commonwealth Ombudsman exposing deficiencies in Centrelink’s review and appeals processes.”

    An investigation into Centrelink’s internal review model by the Commonwealth Ombudsman in March 2011 found that out of 100 appeals, 47 would be changed within the internal review process alone.

    The report found that Centrelink had “systemic weaknesses” in letting some reviews stall indefinitely and in not uniformly considering the complexity of each case and the vulnerabilities of many of its clients.

    The welfare rights spokesperson agreed that Centrelink, whilst being “good at processing things”, has problems in being discretionary in its decision-making.
    “They have difficulty sometimes in engaging clients and getting all the information and clients don’t know what they need to tell Centrelink,” the spokesperson said. “Centrelink [is] increasingly becoming the ‘cop on the block’ rather than a group which is there to help people get what they’re legally entitled to.”

    This is not the only issue currently plaguing Centrelink, which had 7.1 million customers and more than 25 000 employees in 2010-11.

    An audit by the ANAO in October 2010 found that Centrelink was providing irrelevant material to the SSAT in appeals and often leaving out key documents, generating additional work for the tribunal.

    Yet the reduction in appeals, coupled with “general operational changes”, led to a reduction in staffing at the SSAT of 7% in 2010-11, with an unspecified amount of further reductions taking place since September last year.

    A task card compliance audit completed last August revealed that Centrelink had become slightly more compliant in supplying the SSAT with “satisfactory documentation”, with a compliance rate of 69% compared to only 57% compliance in 2009.

    A spokesperson for the SSAT declined to speculate on the reason for the drop in appeals from Centrelink and on Centrelink’s current compliance rates.

    18th Nov 2012
    The question is not am I happy with Centrelink .....but is Centrelink happy with me ? and if so you have nothing to worry about.

    3rd Dec 2012
    Political correctness dogma by the left became the norm for all public service jobs and also applied to bench marks in all fields of education back in the late 80's early 90's. This was and still is AFAIK affirmative action so no person will feel lack of self esteem etc and even to the point of making jobs available to certain genders like women driving buses jobs only or ethnicities. Social engineering by the left and practice by Labor and the Greens and not picked up and dropped by the Coalition as once would have happened reversing all the mistakes etc. So blame equal.

    So we the taxpayers and shareholders of the nation known as Australia, would be far better served by going back to Public Service Entrance Exam set on original bench marks prior to pc interference,also returning all educational bench marks back to where they once were.

    And of course would also benefit businesses who also have problems with under skilled people holding certificates which are of little use as cant do the job they are supposed to cover as being qualified for far too often. Costing all of us in the end as consumers.

    And with the abolishment of all corporal punishments from birth it is obvious we have generations who are acting out like 2 year olds when they cant get their own way. That is down to the left wing UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child which we also never did get to debate or have a referendum on like Multiculturalism.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles