Infographic: the truth behind Centrelink's waiting times

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Wes Mountain, The Conversation

Senior staff from the Department of Human Services told Senate estimates on March 2 that the average wait time to speak to a Centrelink operator is 14 minutes and 10 seconds. The Conversation

But with reports of some people waiting more than an hour, 28 million busy signals so far this year, and welfare recipients being encouraged to go online rather than speak to someone, this doesn’t match with most people’s experiences of calling Centrelink.

This is because what’s not included in the reported wait time is probably more important than what is.

We’ve created this graphic – based on new data from 2015-16 calls confirmed by the Department of Human Services – to explain what’s really going on when Centrelink says its wait time is under 16 minutes. And you can read an analysis piece by Paul Henman on the issue here.


The Conversation, CC BY-ND


The Department of Human Services reported at Senate estimates that so far this financial year (up to January 31) 28 million calls received a busy signal, and more than 4 million calls were abandoned while waiting on the line.

A spokesperson for the department said that it would not go into detail beyond what was offered at estimates at this time. So, it’s not possible to know whether there has been a surge in calls overall on the current data.

But it is clear that more people are struggling to get through than ever before.

Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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28 Comments

Total Comments: 28
  1. 0
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    I don’t bother ringing them go and see them face to face, funny if a crowd turned up just before closing.

  2. 0
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    You can wait over an hour on the phone

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      I can drive there in an hour (under), sit down the beach and do lunch, get a beer at the club, do some shopping if necessary… sitting at home on the muzak is a killer….

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      I know a young mother who was told she had to come into a Centrelink office to resolve her issue. Shed did. Five times – equipped with baby in pram, bottles, nappies, wipes, dummy, toys, and a host of other necessities. She sat for an entire afternoon before being told ”we can’t see you today, sorry. Come back tomorrow” That happened 3 times before she was seen at 3:40pm on the third day.

      Another friend went in to Centrelink office 20 minutes from her home, only to be told she had to got to an office 1.5 hours away because the staff at her local office were ”reducing productivity” as a form of protest against work conditions.

      Our local C/link agency tells people to arrive by 9am because otherwise they most likely won’t get through on the phones before the agency closes at 2pm.

  3. 0
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    Was there mention of DHS’s strategy to improve wait times? Call centres have been hiring ‘temps’, giving them a day’s (at tops) training then putting them on the phones. There role is to answer the call, then transfer to an ‘expert’. This has the effect of cutting wait times & making the minister look good. An expensive con job. If you plan on heading into your local office to see someone, take a packed lunch.

  4. 0
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    As before, had to attend a Colonel’s office to get paperwork for glasses – very quick, friendly and efficient service. Can’t vouch for the phone service because I simply wouldn’t try it in the first place. One bad experience was enough.

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    I cringe everytime i have to call centrelink. Took me 46min 14sec yesterday and that was after i had hung up several times. Add that to Apps that crash or don’t work and i think centrelink needs a review of systems. Sounds to me that they are using the same IT company as the cenus did. If you call the UK social security they answer quickly and its a real person not press this and press that.

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    Not mentioned in this article is the deliberate intent of Centrelink to direct people away from telephone and direct verbal communication and across to ‘home page’ internet inquiries and welfare applications, as part of deliberate yet unreasonable reductions and cutting of Centrelink staff. This policy also provides Centrelink a capacity to ignore Grey areas of Gov’t. Policy on human services by limiting inquiry and thereafter disregarding response to those unfortunate enough not to be able to access and or understand the claim form designs and content information available on the internet homepage.
    I find it contradictory that Government “cry’s” loudly about increasing Welfare costs of the Nation and increased ageing population , yet targets first above other Government institutions this area, to reduce staff and services. How this action and intent meets and addresses the alleged growing welfare needs of the Nation alludes me.

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    i phoned centrelink in January with a query that no-one could answer (after 42mins waiting) and was told he would get back to me after checking it out. Last week i remembered that i hadn’t heard back. (i Have a brain injury) so… I phoned the disability line. After 45 minutes waiting i was told that she didn’t know the answer and would put me through to the disability section (that’s who i called!!! but the auto choices and the computer didn’t allow me to reach a human till then AND it was the wrong one!!
    Finally, I was told that the law had change and the payment was made differently. this call lasted 1 hour and 32 minutes!! why couldn’t the first chap know that 3 months ago!!!

  8. 0
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    i was getting mail from centrelink for someone who hadn’t lived at my address for many years (if ever). After months of returning it to sender i went and sat at centrelink and said i was NOT leaving until they changed this man’s address (child support section) Much faster than the phone – harder to ignore you in person. Take a book and earplugs to tune out the propaganda on the TV which tells you how great they are, BUT nothing at all useful!!

  9. 0
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    That is not correct. It might be for some if you are lucky to get to them. Many times I rung them and was not able to connect even after an hour (2x or more) So it will be useless calling them at home. Best way is go to the nearest centrelink and join the queue and ask to talk to them. They have a direct access and within second/s you are in and you can tell them everything you need and want. Make sure you know or have alist of everything you want to discuss so you will not waste time coming back again and again.The best way to do it.

  10. 0
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    More crap excuses by Centrelink management. Bloody hopeless.

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