15th May 2013
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Centrelink measures
Centrelink measures

Centrelink received over 44 million calls in 2011-12 and at last it has realised people need to speak to a real person, but it is also increasing data matching with the ATO.

Improved call centre service

The Department of Human Services received over 44 million calls relating to Centrelink enquiries in 2011-12 and will receive $30 million to provide improved call centre services.

While there has been a push by the department to direct customers to online, mobile and self-service options, complex rules and a new, difficult to navigate website mean more people need to speak to a real person.

Increased data matching

The Department of Human Services will move to match income reporting data with PAYG summaries submitted to the Australian Tax Office in order to highlight cases of incorrect income reporting.

The additional scrutiny is expected to highlight an additional 19,000 customers who are being over-paid benefits and is predicted to save $67.5 million over four years.

Increased income threshold

Those on Newstart Allowance will be able to earn more before their payments are affected. The limit will increase to $100 per fortnight from 1 July 2015, the first increase in 10 years.





    COMMENTS

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    Nan Norma
    15th May 2013
    3:49pm
    Income matching is all well and good but it won't catch these working for cash in hand. I'm not italking about those that make a few dollars here and there. Some aged pensioners are forced to make a few dollars to pay the the rent, often babysitting. I'm talking about those claiming disability and carers pensions and making thousands working for cash in hand or other wheeling and dealing.
    Pass the Ductape
    15th May 2013
    5:42pm
    Speak to a real person at Centrelink my backside. Those in Centrelink are not - never have been - nor ever will be - 'real people'!
    nico
    16th May 2013
    12:07pm
    What you say has me wondering too. I have been victimized for always being honest to them. I do missionary work with my wife in Sumba, Indonesia. We were recently married but have to live apart for most of the time. My wife is on a pittance of a salary; far less than a spouse would receive if she was on a pension. My pension has been HACKED to the extent that it is almost impossible for me to exist. I cannot afford the luxury of good food unless the village people bring me something from the sea. Certainly nothing like steak or what you would buy in a Supermarket in Australia. I wish clones like Your life Choices had the guts to publicize issues like mine.
    Taswegian1957
    16th May 2013
    8:51am
    Have to disagree with the last comment. Although it's often true when you deal with call centres and government departments I've been very fortunate to deal with an extremely pleasant "real person" from Centrelink on the phone who usually does my phone appointment calls. Also the counter staff at my local Centrelink office in the Huon Valley who are always pleasant to everyone and never make you feel like a number or ashamed of needing their services.
    Nan Norma
    16th May 2013
    9:11am
    Taswegian, I've had much the same treatment as you. I have no complaints although I have had problems in the past.
    nico
    16th May 2013
    12:17pm
    I believe what you say is true, there are some humane people within the system, But there are also some very vindictive people, who set out to collect scalps. I had a ruling from a Tribunal hearing in favour of my case. The ruling came from a judge who said "clearly Centrelink had made an error of judgement". I believed the comment to be 100% true. Now Centrelink have hacked m pension by neatly a third and I am finding it near impossible to come home. I do mission work among the poor in Christian communities in Indonesia.
    kenlow
    16th May 2013
    11:00am
    I think Ductape needs to understand, that people working for centrelink are real people who are employed as a link in the chain of information from centrelink and have no input or influence over that information, or policy matters,apart from being able to cast a vote at election time,as is the right of all ordinary citizens of Australia.
    Eagleman45
    17th May 2013
    12:04pm
    I have had to deal with Centrelink for many years - first as a low income earner who struggled along with a small business, and later as an Age Pensioner.

    The biggest problem with Centrelink is clear: when you go there you are subject to seeing somebody at random. Instead, they should adopt the 'Case Manager' model wherein you see the same staff member by appointment, and that person gets to understand your situation from the consistent notes they make. Case Managers actually save Centrelink staff time and hence money, as well as providing more job satisfaction for their staff because they can follow things through. So why don't they do it? Is it because of the massive staff turnover due to job dissatisfaction, I wonder?

    Another, related major problem is that their specialist staff operate completely remote from us as their clients. I used to have a small business which I sold for little more than the stock value - a better alternative to closing it down. Hence, I also have to report to their Business assessment section, although it no longer trades - but I am never allowed to see a person in that section. Once, an appalling error was made in their transcribing and overstating my business details, which it really took some work on my part to uncover and rectify. Again, there should be a Case Manager whom I have access to when needed.

    The third issue is that new assessments and changes of pension rate arrive in the mail (I refuse to deal with them by e-mail or internet), and changes to my pension just happen, with no personal explanation. I recognise this game from way back when I did teacher training, of course - if you make the rules of the game obscure and don't tell anyone specifically about their situation when you change them, the client has no way to understand why things happened or argue that the change is wrong. Which returns to the need for case managers again, eh?

    My experience is that generally Centrelink staff do their best - within the limits of their training, innate abilities, and working under an atrociously impersonal system and workload both.

    The biggest lie is, of course, calling it the 'Department of Human Services', because mostly they aren't and it wants to be even less 'human' by driving us further away to the internet.

    That's another putcome of the Costello-Swann philosophy of making people serve the economic system rather that the system serving the people.

    My suggestion to everyone is - refuse to use the internet for Centrelink servcies if you can avoid it, and always go there in person so that that last bit of potential human service does not die out to supposedly save Government money at the cost of service to us.
    Nan Norma
    17th May 2013
    4:07pm
    Very well said Eagleman.
    Jacks
    3rd Jun 2013
    1:26pm
    I have also been with Centrelink for sometime. I was transferred to CRS after struggling with osteoarthritis in my neck and spine. I had spent a long time in tertiary education studying to gain professional qualifications so that I could gain more financial independence and have a better quality of life. I developed arthritis over this time and even with exercise and healthy eating etc it just got worse and worse, until finally doing any kind of work became difficult. I was trasferred to CRS whose job it was to help support me so that I could re-enter the workforce again or take up some other kind of study. Unfortunately Social Security Law, is arbitrary and punishing and even if the staff want to help you, they are bound by that law to keep you endlessly in ineffective job clubs and other services that do nothing to help your arthritis and in many cases make it worse. I have repeatedly requested the support of a physiotherapist and hydrotherapy classes, none of which have been forthcoming and the case managers have actually told me that physiotherapy doesn't work.

    I have found that most of the staff are poorly trained in chronic pain management, or have any understanding of the severity of osteoarthritis. Physiotherapy has given me some good help, I require more of it to help me keep going, and GP's can only do so much. Most employers will run a mile if you have any chronic pain condition. The government has pushed people further into poverty with it's arbitrary and punishing policies.


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