Centrelink services under fire

Almost a quarter of the 57 million calls made to Centrelink last year went unanswered.

Centrelink services under fire

According to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit report released on Tuesday, almost a quarter of the 57 million phone calls made to Centrelink last year went unanswered.

The report also revealed that Australians waited an average of almost 17 minutes for calls to be answered and around 13 million customers simply abandoned calls because they were tired of waiting.

It was also noted that the average wait times reported to the government did not reflect the actual experience of many Centrelink customers, with 30 per cent claiming to have waited on hold for 30 minutes or more before speaking to a service officer.

These wait times have significantly increased in recent years from an average of 3 minutes and 5 seconds in 2010–11 to the current average of 16 minutes – which is the benchmark agreed to with the government.

The auditors calculated that Australians waited the equivalent of 143 years to speak to a Centrelink service officer in 2013-2014, only to hang up before their calls were answered. Add to that another 13.7 million calls that did not even make it to the point of being put on hold, after they were knocked out of the system or received a busy signal. 

The Audit of the Department of Human Service's (DHS) ‘Smart Centre’ system confirmed that the lengthy wait for calls to be answered is the number one complaint against the welfare agency.

The auditors attributed the lengthy wait times to the lack of public servants answering telephones, as well as the ‘performance and reliability’ issues of other customer service channels, including automated voice and online systems. Centrelink stated that to reduce the wait times to around five minutes it would have to add 1000 staff at an annual cost of $100 million.

Centrelink faces the challenge of managing high call volumes for the agency’s services during a transition to improved self-service systems. An example of the success of the new systems is its mobile app, where transactions have increased from 8.6 million in 2012–13 to 36.1 million in 2013–14.

The department’s long term strategy to move most customer transactions from a personal service basis (conducted by telephone or face-to-face) to a self-managed basis (conducted mainly over the internet) should enable better customer service by allowing support staff to focus on more complex services and customers most in need.

In the interim, the telephone remains a significant tool for customers seeking clarification of Centrelink processes and assistance with alternative service channels, whilst digital services refine their ease-of-use and reliability.

On a more positive note, the Auditor-General did recognise the fact that the department was making progress in revamping its customer service by diverting millions of transactions each year to its improved self-service options. It also recommended that Centrelink review its telephone services to inform customers of alternative support channels and warn them how long they may have to wait for a call to be answered.

Read the Australian National Audit Office report.

Opinion: What are the alternatives?

As I’m sure many of you will agree, it goes without saying that the Department of Human Services (DHS) needs to address these lengthy wait times for telephone calls to be answered.

Admittedly, Centrelink may have a limited amount of resources available and can only do the best with what it has been given. But if it’s a choice between funds being diverted to pay for putting on more staff to answer calls and reduce call wait times, or cuts to welfare and pensions, which would you choose?

The new self-service systems are indeed, quite admirable, and most of the time, quite effective. But what of those who are not internet savvy, or who prefer to deal with support officers face to face or over the phone, or those who don’t even own a smartphone?

Centrelink’s website can also be tricky to navigate, but once you’re in the right section, it seems to work quite well. Still, the telephone is always going to be a preferred tool for many of Centrelink’s customers, especially seniors.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that there are probably many unemployed twenty-somethings who quite possibly aren’t making the best use of their time anyway, and if them waiting on the phone for 30 minutes is the price to pay for receiving benefits, then so be it. If Centrelink can somehow filter those types of calls, it would go a long way to decreasing call wait times. But that’s probably more of a gripe than a solution.

This issue greatly affects those for whom time is more precious – seniors, retirees and those earnestly seeking employment – and waiting around for a support officer to answer a query about their benefits or employment options can be incredibly frustrating.

Refining the usability and reliability of Centrelink’s self-service options should relieve these call wait times, but that transition process is still in its relative infancy. Unfortunately, all that customers can do in the meantime is wait.

How have your experiences with Centrelink’s telephone services been? Have you waited for lengthy periods before your calls have been answered? If you haven’t already, would you be inclined to try the automated systems instead of using the phone? And, if you have used Centrelink’s online services, how was your experience?





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    btony
    21st May 2015
    10:07am
    I've done all my centrelink stuff on the net, never had a problem yet.If I don't think I can do it on the net,I go in to the office.
    maelcolium
    21st May 2015
    2:41pm
    I went into the office and was told to ring. I tried to ring and the calls were unanswered. I emailed a call back to my mobile and they rang my landline when I wasn't there. I uploaded letters to their page and have been waiting five months for a response. It took them 14 months to update my assets. They claimed an overpayment (their error) three years ago and deducted it from payments.
    Next step AAT.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:06pm
    Btony, a LNP pr troll? You can‘t do everything online, and when you go in they tell you to ring! I have used snail mail twice now to report change of circumstances, one of which you can‘t report online. And I use self service to take out advance loans and monitor my payments but that‘s all you can use self service for. Also lots of Aussies don‘t use the net or don‘t know how to use it.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:13pm
    Maelcolium, use the Centrelink snail mail service. Has worked quickly and brilliantly for me so far. Go into Centrelink and say you deal with centrelink that way and ask for addressed prepaid envelopes. Goes to a Canberra office and they updated my info twice and sent me letters back. Also let‘s all get in touch with MPs and senators. This is a disgrace.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:13pm
    Maelcolium, use the Centrelink snail mail service. Has worked quickly and brilliantly for me so far. Go into Centrelink and say you deal with centrelink that way and ask for addressed prepaid envelopes. Goes to a Canberra office and they updated my info twice and sent me letters back. Also let‘s all get in touch with MPs and senators. This is a disgrace.
    buby
    18th Oct 2016
    4:18am
    btony how do you access Centrelink>?
    I can never get them on the internet, my browser won't log into it>?
    HarrysOpinion
    21st May 2015
    10:14am
    To be somewhat fair, Centrelink do have a call back facility if it is activated. BUT, how about requesting on an official Australian Tax Office application form that was faxed to them on 4 May 2015 to send you copies of documents, urgently. Today is the 21 May 2015 and not a word of acknowledgement or reply. Obviously the word URGENT is not in ATO's vocabulary.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:20pm
    ATO had a lot of staff cut too by Abbott Govt. Use snail mail not emails, faxes etc and keep copies of all correspondence.

    Actually, centrelink call back facility didn‘t work for me and I have heard this also from others. I got addressed prepaid envelopes from Centrelink, who would let me do stuff in the office, they said I had to ring. So I used the envelopes to get in touch with Centrelink twice by snail mail. So far it has worked.
    particolor
    25th May 2015
    7:27pm
    He will Sack Your Post Man Next !!:-(
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:32pm
    Haha, particolor! Actually, I am worried they will close this wonderful loophole...
    particolor
    25th May 2015
    8:50pm
    Keep on using the Australia Post service like that and they will put the CEO's Meagre Salary up from 4.5 Million a Year to 6 Million !! :-)
    Star Trekker
    21st May 2015
    10:22am
    I wish Centrelink would update their online self-service options. I have waited 1.5 hours to report a one-off income (Federal & State election work) on the phone ( could not travel to an office at the time). It would have taken me 2 mins. on the net.
    Star Trekker
    21st May 2015
    10:24am
    And they stuffed that up as well, putting down the wrong Employer.
    particolor
    22nd May 2015
    8:52pm
    Was the Space Ship in Dry Dock ?
    Star Trekker
    22nd May 2015
    10:48pm
    I was waiting for the warp plasma to be changed on the 3 million mile service.
    particolor
    23rd May 2015
    2:29pm
    I rang Centrelink Yesterday !! My Arm went to Sleep waiting ! :-(
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:26pm
    Star trekker, I think nowadays you can‘t report income in the office, they will just tell you to ring. You can do it by snail mail though, Centrelink has addressed prepaid envelopes you can ask for when you go into an office and an officer asks you what you are there for.
    particolor
    25th May 2015
    9:06pm
    Being a concerned Citizen You could go to Canberra and see if their noses are still wet ! :-)
    Star Trekker
    25th May 2015
    9:24pm
    I was in Centrelink today for my daughter and was told not send in anything by mail as it would take too long for it to get opened, read & allocated to the correct file. The only thing Aus Post is good for is parcels and they are too expensive.
    bookwyrm
    26th May 2015
    4:34am
    What a load of rubbish! My 2 letters were received, dealt with and replied to by mail in a couple of weeks! I did it that way early in the year and in March.
    Eileen
    21st May 2015
    10:39am
    Much easier to go to their office, if you get there early there is not too long a wait. Phoning is useless, the app is very good as well.
    Gwenwiver
    21st May 2015
    10:56am
    Yes the trick is to get there early - before those who come by public transport which is cheaper after the peak times. Again a tip from the friendly staff at Centrelink.
    Theo1943
    21st May 2015
    12:57pm
    Not a good option for me. My nearest Centrelink Office is 40 Kms away, so that will use 1.5hrs of my time and then you still have to wait 20-30 mins. Not to mention the $12 in fuel. I manage pretty much all of my interface with them online but how do older people do it. My dad is 101 next week, can't see very well, doesn't hear very well, and doesn't understand what they want from him.
    Hasbeen
    21st May 2015
    3:20pm
    I can't handle going to their office, as I can't stand for anywhere near as long as one has to.

    I had quite a lot of dealing with them for my mother a few years back. Waiting was not a problem, but the permanently engaged line was. I have taken 2 days, just to get their phone to ring.

    I found the non English speaking line was always open, & answered quickly, so used that for a while. To say I was more than a little annoyed at special treatment for migrants is putting it very lightly. I was even further annoyed when they stopped putting English speakers through from this line, but ours was still permanently engaged.

    Thank god I have little reason for contact with them recently.

    Do you think it is all a plot to raise our blood pressure sufficiently to kill us with a heart attack?
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:30pm
    They have changed things so there a lot they wont deal with in the Centrelink office when you go in. They tell you to use the phone. I use the Centrelink snail mail service now. And use phone selfservice to get advance loans.
    buby
    18th Oct 2016
    4:24am
    Do you think it is all a plot to raise our blood pressure sufficiently to kill us with a heart attack?

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    YES hasbeen i think it is,I'm sure they don't mind the numbers dropping, its less they have to deal with!!!!:(
    particolor
    18th Oct 2016
    12:02pm
    buby.. DEFINATELY !! :-(
    Gwenwiver
    21st May 2015
    10:51am
    It depends on where you live - I have waited up to three hours at Centrelink. On a positive note when I found the staff very friendly and helpful - no mean feat given the stress they were under. Having spent ages waiting on the phone I have started putting my phone on speaker and get on with life while waiting - definitely reduces the stress levels
    Jennome
    26th May 2015
    3:54pm
    I did that and my landline phone ran out of charge after 30 minutes. They'd advised when I first rang that it would be 60 minutes. I gave up and travelled the 40 odd kms to the office instead. Way quicker!
    Stretch
    21st May 2015
    10:52am
    A couple of weeks ago YourLifeChoices included an article about the large number of welfare recipients (who include old-aged pensioners, not just youth or single mothers) who do not advise Centrelink of their change in circumstances. Often this results in an overpayment. Today's article is a reflection on the long waiting time to talk to a Centrelink person.

    Does YourLifeChoices get the connection?

    When a welfare recipient undertakes casual work they are required to declare their income from that casual work. By definition, casual work is unplanned, intermittent, unexpected. The person, in declaring it must ring up Centrelink within two weeks of earning it. If they don't report it in that period, they must report it as soon as possible. It is not always possible to get on to Centrelink (and the unemployed, youth and single mothers are not sitting around, watching midday movies and eating junk food) in time. That does not mean these welfare recipients - including old-age pensioners - are cheating the system. The stereotype of young unemployed people not making the 'best use of their time' is not helpful and is insulting towards the overwhelming majority who want to work, want a job and want a secure job - not considered a big ask in my baby-boomer generation. These 'twenty somethings' are the fodder for casual, insecure and exploitative work where underpayments are very, very common.

    The money saved by Centrelink cutting staff was not converted to pension rises or additional welfare assistance. Why make the reverse assumption - that additional Centrelink staff would result in cuts to welfare and pensions?

    Your previous commentary and this commentary contains an element of welfare recipient bashing. It is worth keeping in mind that old-age pensioners are also welfare recipients and are no more the 'deserved poor' than the rest of those in this country who depend on welfare. People's natural life-cycles and misfortunes result in welfare assistance being needed. I am glad that this country helps those who need it and I am glad to pay taxes (considerable in sum and not avoided or minimised) to keep this a civilised country.
    maelcolium
    21st May 2015
    7:13pm
    I'm glad you said it Stretch. I posted a complaint asking Leon to apologise and the post has not been put up. For an organisation representing people on welfare their demonising of the unemployed is very poor.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:39pm
    Hear hear! I deal with Centrelink through mail now but I don‘t think many people know about this service. I have declared two different change of circumstances this way. I asked for the addressed prepaid envelopes at a Centrelink office when approached in the queue. I said I deal with Centrelink through the post.
    Rose
    21st May 2015
    10:58am
    Self service options are hardly in it's infancy as has been around for at least the last 5 yrs - it's a quite a limited service & not always reliable. If staff in offices actually answered quick enquiries when people attend the office instead of referring them to the phone services there wouldn't be the volume of calls to the call centres or as many frustrated customers.
    Golden Oldie
    21st May 2015
    1:28pm
    I would love to be able to use the internet to advise them of changes, but even after 5 years you cannot update your asset levels, and being retired for 9 years, income reporting Is not relevant for me.
    Star Trekker
    21st May 2015
    1:43pm
    Golden Oldie: I have been able to update assets online. It does take a bit of maneuvering around the site.
    Nan Norma
    21st May 2015
    3:55pm
    Star Trekker, Please tell me how.
    Nan Norma
    21st May 2015
    3:55pm
    Star Trekker, Please tell me how.
    Star Trekker
    21st May 2015
    4:32pm
    Nan Norma:
    After logging in to Centrelink and your home page is showing, click on "My Profile". Scroll down to "My Finances" Fortnightly income. Click on "Blue Arrow" to show "Income and Assets"
    Click "Update Details" on right side (blue rectangle)
    Then select the category you want to update.
    genimi
    21st May 2015
    5:39pm
    Rose, the staff are not allowed to answer all those simple enquiries in person - they have to put them on the phones or computer. They have their instructions and get in trouble for not sticking with it. every interaction is timed and if they take too long to get people out of the queue and onto the phones, etc. they get into trouble which if they do it often enough can result in a poor performance record.
    Troubadour
    21st May 2015
    11:13am
    When we do have anything to check with Centrelink we prefer to go directly to
    the Office, the one we go to has been updated, and usually works well - we have
    never had too long to wait and the personnel are pleasant and helpful, in fact one
    of them cleared up a problem that had been on going for 3 years, and did it in 5 mins!
    I have also used the on-line facility one worked fine, the other not so.
    Kato
    21st May 2015
    11:16am
    I seem to get disconnected when I ring them up.
    I go to the local centre link and they say use the app on your phone . Only problem there is I have more trouble than a youth in a bordello.Not to bad on the home computer I have centre link ,the tax dept, Medicare and disabilities linked so far works well. Learnt how to up load documents etc with a centre link staff member.
    Kato
    21st May 2015
    11:23am
    From the phone call also.
    djennin
    21st May 2015
    11:29am
    I sent in, uploaded online data as requested in 2013. Over a year later I got a call saying they were now dealing with it and wanted some clarification.
    At the Morley WA CL office they advised me it was better to post it in rather than upload as letters were dealt with by senior staff.
    Local office advice is to get in just before 9am.
    I almost always wait about 30 mins for an answer on the phone so I put the call on speaker and suffer the rubbish music which may be designed to encourage you to hang up.
    Pass the Ductape
    22nd May 2015
    5:31am
    Try waiting 30 minutes on the phone if all you possess is a mobile - and the music played while you wait is simply pathetic.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:45pm
    Yes, I use the post now. Got the envelopes, addressed and prepaid, in a Centrelink office, just ask the officer who approaches you in the queue. I have had two different matters dealt with quickly by post. Keep copies of correspondence.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:46pm
    Yes, I use the post now. Got the envelopes, addressed and prepaid, in a Centrelink office, just ask the officer who approaches you in the queue. I have had two different matters dealt with quickly by post. Keep copies of correspondence.
    MITZY
    21st May 2015
    11:37am
    I don't have many dealings with Centre Link but if I need to report a change or ask a question I write a letter. I drop the letter into Centre Link or post it and if I need a reply to what I am reporting, I request it by writing or ask they contact me and make an appointment with me to come into their office. This works well, all the time. I have never had a problem with any of my dealings with them.
    bookwyrm
    26th May 2015
    4:40am
    Yes, letters through the post is what I have switched as I can‘t through on the phone and when I went into an office they told me to use their phone, only a 20 minute wait she said, ha! I called my local MP‘s office instead. And have used snail mail since.
    Peterrj
    21st May 2015
    11:44am
    I read all this 'good advice' and clearly I must be the unlucky one. I have run CentreLink and waited 3 hrs only to be disconnected. After another three hour wait I was put through to the wrong section and then my phone call was redirected and I had another long wait. I have been to the office of CenteLink on two occasions and told that the wait list went beyond their closing time so the trips were without luck. On another occasion I arrived at centeLinkmo lay to be told ip that I could use their phone to ring with my CentreLink enquiry. I finally was served in more recent times only to be told they did not know the answer to my question. And I am told the average waiting time is 16 minutes. All I say is Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics!
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:49pm
    I have had similar experiences so now I deal with Centrelink through post.

    21st May 2015
    11:46am
    I've had endless problems uploading documents via the Net, and even went into the office once only to have the consultant tell me SHE couldn't make the website work. It does appear to have been upgraded recently though.

    As to phone calls, I've waited up to an hour, sometimes only to be cut off when I finally get through. Both I and my daughter have gone to the office, waiting over 2 hours, then been told to go home because they are too busy.

    I think one way to address the problem is to be more diligent about removing Centrelink staff who stuff up. Again and again I've seen examples of staff making huge errors - often very stupid errors - that result in a massive extra workload for Centrelink and frustration for clients, and when the errors are pointed out, the response is often arrogant and rude. If staff management was more efficient and errors were reduced, there would be less need for people to contact Centrelink.
    Peterrj
    21st May 2015
    11:48am
    Ditto!
    HOLA
    21st May 2015
    12:26pm
    I too had to see Centrelink and was told to wait until my name was called. Well I waited nearly 1 hour. I asked if I could make an appointment to see someone the next day and was told I couldn't make an appointment when all of a sudden one of the staff came out and called, "11.am appointment ready?" What a stuff up.
    Possum
    21st May 2015
    12:25pm
    In all my working life I have not had much to do with Centrelink until I was made redundant 23 months ago. Since this day they have been nothing but a thorn in my side. They can't answer simple questions or they bullshit to you. They do not communicate between each other or their service providers. They cannot get anything right. They do not listen to you, except and I apologise for saying this, you are not from this country who take precedence over our own. Their offices are always empty yet the staff always complain about having too much to do. They show no consideration for anybody - like it's my fault I am where I am, there is no compassion of empathy to our circumstances and they are definitely not there to help but be a hindrance. If I didn't have to deal with them I wouldn't. To this day they have not got a damn thing correct where I am concerned and I am sick to the back teeth of fighting for my rights - correct information, correct status, correct allowance, correct appointments...........and the list goes on. I do most of mine over the internet as well, which is useful provided the information is correct and mine never is. Disgusted in this government organisation.
    di
    21st May 2015
    12:26pm
    Leon, I agree with the statistics in your article - I too was needing to speak with Centrelink on many occasions, for myself to garner information not available on the internet or for my student older children, so they didn't have to wait around all day on the phone - there is ANOTHER side to this debacle - the calls are all 13 calls and with a lot of providers ESP Telstra they cost per call - even though you might have your internet and phone bundled up! I HATE THIS... obviously Telstra has made a 'special' deal with Govt agencies... at one time they were all 1800 numbers - but not now. This fact costs me every time I phone Centrelink - it ADDS to my bundled bill!
    KSS
    21st May 2015
    12:52pm
    Di it is not just Telstra that do this, all telecom providers do the same thing - exclude 13 and 1300 numbers from the included calls. It annoys me that most organisations today do not publish their 'real' number and all use either 13 or 1300 numbers for which the CUSTOMER has to pay. More evidence of the outsourcing of business overheads to the customer.
    maelcolium
    21st May 2015
    7:10pm
    Internode include 13 and 1300 calls on their plans. I believe their carrier is OPTUS. Vote with your feet!
    Thai Traveller
    21st May 2015
    12:32pm
    I am retired overseas, and making phone calls to Centrelink is a rarity.

    However, I tried to sign up on YouGov recently, only to discover that to do this, you must submit an Aussie mobile number. They don't accept Thai ones!

    I made a free call to ask what I should do, and was shunted around, put on hold and eventually gave up when my phone battery went flat.

    PS What does one doe to sign in to YouGov if you don't have an Aussie mobile?
    bookwyrm
    26th May 2015
    4:45am
    Google ‘dsp overseas‘, there is a board of expats who will support you in centrelink problems.
    fearlessfly
    21st May 2015
    12:35pm
    Maaaate, I dare not comment on their phone service, I'd be sued for slander. HOWEVER, a couple of bouquets are in order. On several occasions I have been offered the "call back" option, and I am very happy with that, it works well, and I don't have to sit on the phone and wait. I am happy with their Seniors App, makes the fortnightly reporting a breeze, and getting reports on one's Income & Assets as held by Centrelink is also a breeze. Last year I got really p'ed off about the "Tell us when you go on an overseas holiday" thing and logged a complaint which suggested that this should be one of the options in the Seniors App. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle - That feature turned up in the App a couple of months ago ! I couldn't believe it, somebody is obviously listening after all !
    RoadRunnerOz
    21st May 2015
    12:47pm
    Hmmm. Insufficient staff. Heaps of people calling. How about 'employing' the unemployed to work a day a week to do some of the grunt work.
    Adrianus
    22nd May 2015
    10:59am
    It may just work. Be prepared for a fight with the CPSU though.
    RoadRunnerOz
    21st May 2015
    12:47pm
    Hmmm. Insufficient staff. Heaps of people calling. How about 'employing' the unemployed to work a day a week to do some of the grunt work.
    Dickb
    21st May 2015
    12:53pm
    My recent dealings with Centrelink over the last month have been my application for an aged pension. My local office (Nundah) have staff with iPads recording your arrival, your customer number and the nature of your query so you can be matched to the right area. My complaint has been that my matter is complex (superannuation assets and new Centrelink asset tests from 1 Jan 2015) and initially handed by a person where I needed to spend nearly an hour. When I had to come back on the day near my turning 65, I asked to see the same person as they had the paper copies of the files and matter put on hold on their system. However they referred me to someone else who I then would have spent another hour working through the matter going over the same information I had given the earlier staff member. They would not have had the documents I left with the original person I saw. After about 15 minutes of frustration, I insisted I see the original officer (who was sitting opposite hearing what was going on). When I saw her, the matter was sorted.
    eviee1
    21st May 2015
    1:07pm
    I've have to wait for over an hour for my call to be answered! The last time I called I asked them if they'd like to give me a job answering phones, she wasn't impressed, but honestly, something needs to be done!
    midnight
    21st May 2015
    1:15pm
    Centrelink waiting time is beyond a joke. Especially as I only own a mobile phone and do not possess a land line. I live approximately 50ks from the nearest Centrelink office. I have given up on using the phone to contact Centrelink and I have on occasion driven the distance, rather than wasting my life away on Call Waiting. I am computer literate and find the Centrelink web site hideous to navigate and illogical in it's layout. And yes, I know the Government will continue to down size Public servants jobs, thus putting more people on the unemployment pathway, thus adding to the waiting time on Centrelink phones. I call it an out of control downward spiral... Wouldn't you?
    Pass the Ductape
    22nd May 2015
    5:42am
    Couldn't agree more about trying to navigate Centrelink's website. It seems you go round and round only to end up with your head stuck your nether regions!
    midnight
    21st May 2015
    1:15pm
    Centrelink waiting time is beyond a joke. Especially as I only own a mobile phone and do not possess a land line. I live approximately 50ks from the nearest Centrelink office. I have given up on using the phone to contact Centrelink and I have on occasion driven the distance, rather than wasting my life away on Call Waiting. I am computer literate and find the Centrelink web site hideous to navigate and illogical in it's layout. And yes, I know the Government will continue to down size Public servants jobs, thus putting more people on the unemployment pathway, thus adding to the waiting time on Centrelink phones. I call it an out of control downward spiral... Wouldn't you?
    Mak
    21st May 2015
    1:22pm
    It is just another instance of our governments, all governments in the last couple of dozen years do not have the ability, knowledge, experience or good old common sense to run any organization correctly.
    Their general lackadaisical attitude towards the Australian Australian citizens is deplorable to a point that they no longer believe that they are, and always will be Servants Of The Public and their stupid, self-inventive political correctness needs to be dropped in an acid bath.
    The obnoxious waste of money on needless projects proves that foolish government ministers and taxpayers money are soon parted.
    jackie
    21st May 2015
    1:55pm
    They are an absolute disgrace to Australian voting options.
    jackie
    21st May 2015
    1:55pm
    They are an absolute disgrace to Australian voting options.
    HOLA
    21st May 2015
    2:46pm
    jackie -- you can say that again.
    Adrianus
    22nd May 2015
    11:05am
    I agree Mak!
    Give CentreLink to Private Enterprise. And throw in the ABC as a small bonus!
    rtrish
    21st May 2015
    1:27pm
    I've done most of mine on the net, however some are not possible - e.g. making an appointment with a FIS officer.
    b kellie
    21st May 2015
    1:30pm
    Yes, the telephone wait is not convinent. But then when we do get thru the customer service is dreadful. The poor staff are generally Centre link illiterate. Customers are expected to know all the ins and outs of centrelink and be financial wizzes too.
    BElle
    21st May 2015
    1:31pm
    Only 17 minutes. They must know what times to ring. Most of my calls have been up to 45-50minutes on hold. Don't bother to ring after 4pm or you will just hang on until the call drops out. I try to use the internet but often I am ringing for my 98 year old father, who surprisingly enough, doesn't know how to use the net and doesn't have access to a computer anyway. I notice only of your respondents goes to the office. This in our area is worse and the wait can be 2 hours plus as this is catergorised as a low socio-economic area.

    21st May 2015
    1:33pm
    The ATO is the same - on the phone OR net.

    21st May 2015
    1:36pm
    It's a shame the alligator bag video I emailed yourlifechoices isn't available for this article.
    KSS
    21st May 2015
    1:37pm
    "On a more positive note, the Auditor-General did recognise the fact that the department was making progress in revamping its customer service by diverting millions of transactions each year to its improved self-service options."

    Wow!!! So improvement in customer service is achieved not by actually putting effort into making sure the customer is taken care of by sufficient well trained staff, Nooo. It is achieved by making the customer look after themselves! So then when the customer is not satisfied they only have themselves to blame!

    Moving everything on-line is all very well - until it isn't! Given the penalties for making even genuine errors (as opposed to those 'mistakes' that are mistakes only when found out) are so high, what protection does the customer have who acts on their own behalf based on information on the website that turns out to be outdated, missing or just plain wrong?

    The real issue is why is there a need for 57 million calls to Centrelink from a total population of under 24 million of which around just under a third receive some sort of 'welfare' delivered by Centrelink? There are clearly undeclared issues with the system that demands this level of attempted contact which does NOT include contact made via internet, website or office visits.

    Finally I take issue with the comments from Leon (Devil's advocate or not):
    "... there are probably many unemployed twenty-somethings who quite possibly aren’t making the best use of their time anyway, and if them waiting on the phone for 30 minutes is the price to pay for receiving benefits, then so be it." and

    "...This issue greatly affects those for whom time is more precious – seniors, retirees and those earnestly seeking employment – and waiting around for a support officer to answer a query about their benefits or employment options can be incredibly frustrating."

    Why does he presume that somehow seniors, retirees and those seeking employment are more time poor? That somehow their status is more deserving of customer service than any other Centrelink user? ALL these groups would have lengthy periods of non-activity and NONE is more important than the other. Talk about the ME Generation. In Leon's world this is clearly the senior and retiree!!

    21st May 2015
    1:40pm
    The DHS cares about as much as Centrelink, or the ACCC for that matter. There is VERY little service with any of them, they just follow the example of their federal counterparts. 'Nuff said? Yes, I think so too!
    jackie
    21st May 2015
    1:44pm
    May be if their CEO's $6M salary was reduced they could afford to employ more staff
    Mak
    21st May 2015
    1:47pm
    I have had many instances of incorrect information given to me in their office and it is obvious that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
    Bobeye
    21st May 2015
    2:00pm
    My wife and I usually write down or enquiry and send a copy by post or drop it all the forms with our CRN No on them.
    If the office is not busy we will wait to be served.
    Unfortunately the WEB Site is not user friendly particularly if you wish to send and email question or a scanned copy of a Form.
    Onemack
    21st May 2015
    2:24pm
    It's not only the phone they don't bother answering, I have never received a reply to an email yet. The only satisfactory contact is to go into the nearest office, however I realise that this is not a real possibility for everybody
    Thai Traveller
    21st May 2015
    3:25pm
    I requested some information for my statement of income, which Thai Immigration wanted. I was told that Centrelink couldn't possibly give me that information as it was confidential and to go to the nearest office! Bangkok maybe?
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    8:33pm
    There is an international Centrelink line? Google ‘dsp overseas‘, a board where many expats with centrelink issues help each other out.
    particolor
    25th May 2015
    8:36pm
    Is it in Mosul ? :-)
    Jurassicgeek
    21st May 2015
    2:45pm
    They dont answer calls...and when you ask for a call back they have a 4 week turnaround. Tne net is the best unless you have a problem then the quickest way to resolve it is to go their office..in our case 2 hours away.....pretty poor service. If this was a mainstream business nobody would deal with them....
    Adrianus
    22nd May 2015
    9:25am
    If it was too easy more people would want to do business with them.
    particolor
    22nd May 2015
    9:07pm
    "Life wasn't meant to be easy !!" :-)
    maelcolium
    21st May 2015
    2:46pm
    "there are probably many unemployed twenty-somethings who quite possibly aren’t making the best use of their time anyway, and if them waiting on the phone for 30 minutes is the price to pay for receiving benefits, then so be it." ......are you serious Leon????

    If you are one of those bigoted people who assume the 16-25 unemployed are sitting around waiting for something to happen then you are seriously misinformed. Your comment is disgusting and should be withdrawn with an apology.
    KSS
    21st May 2015
    2:56pm
    I agree maelcolium as I said above along with his next statement:

    "...This issue greatly affects those for whom time is more precious – seniors, retirees and those earnestly seeking employment – and waiting around for a support officer to answer a query about their benefits or employment options can be incredibly frustrating."

    Is their time more precious because they may die waiting?
    jackie
    21st May 2015
    2:58pm
    Putting down young people in a down sized employment environment is not a solution for better communication.
    downunder
    21st May 2015
    4:57pm
    Maelcolium, you are not serious. That is a vicious comment. If that are your thoughts keep them to yrsf
    Rob
    21st May 2015
    5:59pm
    I think you missed the thrust of maelcollum post downunder. His post was totally appropriate.
    Buck
    21st May 2015
    3:39pm
    I was told to apply for age pension I first had to have a phone interview so I called and waited and waited. The call ended up costing $81.00. Surely they could have a call back system. Not impressed
    downunder
    21st May 2015
    4:54pm
    Alternatives? Make the website less complicated and allow all services to be accessed from there. Currently ever so often you are told you have to contact the service by phone or in person. Secondly put more call centre staff on and definitely no outsourcing to a foreign county. If that happens - good night CentreLink
    downunder
    21st May 2015
    5:00pm
    ....and I forgot, come up with a call back service. But of course that would be a 'service'
    Mike
    21st May 2015
    5:02pm
    On a particular day I made about 30 calls to Centrelink only I kept getting a busy signal. Later that day I made a personal visit to a Centrelink office about 50Km from my home, and found a long queue in front of me. As it was late in the day, it looked as if I would end up not being served. A staff member told me if I rang the Centrelink No after 5pm, the line wouldn't be busy. So I went home and rang centrelink after 5pm, and was told by a machine that no staff members were on duty after 4.30pm. Talk about a runaround.
    BigDub
    21st May 2015
    5:28pm
    I haven't started using the Centrelink website but I decided many years ago to save my valuable time by refusing to ring or visit a Centrelink office. I have a home fax and use that to transmit any changes to my circumstances to my local designated office at the end of each month. Most times I receive a letter via snail mail advising what changes, if any, will apply to my future payment benefits. Recently, I received a letter requesting me to forward certain original documents relating to two recent investments I made and apart from the fact that the documents were not returned via registered post, as promised, I was not inconvenienced in any way. On the occasions when I have received a telephone call from Centrelink, they have always been polite and extremely helpful.
    Perhaps Centrelink could offer telephone callers an option to call back enquirers at an approximate time allowing callers to keep their place in the queue.
    Warren
    Not Senile Yet!
    21st May 2015
    8:40pm
    The automated system is not at fault at all.....it does not have enough staff answering the Calls.....hence the waiting time!!!
    Why doesn't it have enough staff????.....one has to ask....only to suddenly realise that both this Government and the Last one ,,,,,secretly cut back staff levels before...I repeat BEFORE....the automated system was totally implemented and once it was....guess what??? ....no spare staff left to switch over to take up the slack!!!!
    I say no staff....meaning none trained to the sufficient level required.....why??? They had already downsized staff level by getting rid of trained staff that were either too old or just too stressed out and wanted out!!!
    This is miss-management!!! Nothing Less!!!
    When they amalgamated the Local Government Councils...the same happened.....they made six councils into one....so one in 6 were out the door.....before they realised all the extra work involved in combining the different structures of six into one!!!
    So they had no one with experience or knowledge to do the work....their employees that they kept were now doing six times the work for the same pay....so no time to do extra!!!
    Ended up costing the council millions to out-source to Private Firms!!!
    Both Parties are SCREWING with the Welfare System by automating it and downsizing staff numbers as a cost-cutting exercise!!!
    Now the Liberals want to Count the Pensioners as WELFARE recipients....what a load of CRAP!!!
    Pensions & retirees were never considered Welfare Recipients because they had earned their Pensions by Paying Tax ALL THEIR WORKING LIVES.....like 40 to 45yrs!!!
    Now they just want to bundle you as Welfare.....as a Leaner because you no longer work and pay tax!!!!
    But the truth is most people on a Pension have replaced themselves as Tax payers with their children ....some doubled the Governments Tax income!!!
    Both the Party Machine have made large cuts to the Human Services Dept. over the past ten years.
    In my area alone the Number of staff dealing with a 20% unemployment rate is half the staff that was there 5-7yrs ago dealing with only a 8-10% Unemployment rate!!!
    This Government has unrealistic ideals about staff numbers when dealing with high unemployment as well as a large number of people retiring in the next 5 yrs.
    As for waiting on the phone longer than 2/3 minutes....I refuse!!!
    Even my doctor has got a serve for delaying my Appt by over 30mins.....advised that he could simply tell everyone in his waiting room that he is running 30mins late.....if they needed to do something else!!! He was not impressed until I advised him that some of his patients might earn as much or more than he does per hour!!!
    This Government and the Previous Governments for the last ten years has deliberately depleted STAFF numbers in the Human Services Department in the name of saving money.....now it is biting them right on the backside.....but hey....they really do not care......why????
    Because in their view all the Customers are Simply "LEANERS" or Bludgers in their view.....and don't deserve any customer status at all!!!
    jackie
    22nd May 2015
    11:53am
    That's true but why have governments done this? It's all been a gradual process for the New World Order.
    Phoenix
    21st May 2015
    9:39pm
    As a WA senior I have been dependent on Centrelink Newstart payments for the last 9 months. My average wait time for calls to be answered would have been more like 30-60 minutes. 20 minutes was surprisingly brief. I had to call very frequently because so many mistakes were made with my file, which, if I had not persisted with calls, would have resulted in my payments being reduced or even ceased, quite unfairly. On two occasions, I was unable to follow through on my call because my landline (cordless) phone battery went flat due to the long wait. Believe me, if I could have dealt with these problems via the website I would have done so! Looking for work and dealing with Centrelink inefficiency and delay is a full-time job in itself! Thank goodness I have just found a job and can say goodbye to Centrelink. PS Don't target young people - it's sometimes even harder for them because they do not have as much life experience.
    fearlessfly
    21st May 2015
    9:48pm
    I just hope there's someone still left at Centrelink to read these posts and take the message on board !
    Kobi
    21st May 2015
    9:54pm
    I added a $6000 car to my assets online then I was locked out for a week I called the help desk and they fixed it , I then updated our bank accounts and was locked out again before I could finish once again I called the help desk who fixed that. The new amounts didn't show on my statement . I got online again to find that my savings had an extra 26000.00 and our pensions dropped by $120 a month, I tried about 4 times during the day to speak to someone, the first time I was cut off , the second time I was told to register for online services, the third time I waited for an hour before I had to go , the 4 th time I called the helpline again and she said I would be next on the list , I waited for another 45 mins and had to hang up . I tried again the next day and again the day after, my fort nights pension was paid into the bank minus the $60, then I got a letter to tell me that as our assets were more our pension had been reduced, well I already knew that a week later our statements still haven't been updated, I called again after I had put a casserole in the oven and it was almost cooked before I hung up in disgust. I still don't know how we accumulated $26000.00 and I'll bet my life when I go in there tomorrow that they won't be able to explain it.
    Peterrj
    21st May 2015
    10:33pm
    Hang on Kobi didn't you read, "These wait times have significantly increased in recent years from an average of 3 minutes and 5 seconds in 2010–11 to the current average of 16 minutes ..." 16 minutes, yeah, right ... What aloud of ......
    Justsane
    22nd May 2015
    1:58am
    A couple of years ago, I had to phone a government department (not Centrelink) and had to wait about 8 minutes to be answered. When they answered, I pressed the wrong button on our new cordless phone, and cut myself off. So I rang again, and had to wait exactly the same time, almost to the second, to be answered. A bit suss, I thought, almost as though the amount of waiting time was pre-calculated.
    particolor
    22nd May 2015
    8:50pm
    It is ! That's so You hang up and don't Bother Them !!:-)
    Pass the Ductape
    22nd May 2015
    5:57am
    I've given up trying to contact Centrelink with my 'change of circumstances'. I can't seem to get through at any level and being that I don't have all that long to go before I head either upstairs or downstairs, I simply can't be bothered waiting for them to respond to my queries. I figure if they discover any problems in my dealings with them - they're always welcome to phone me - not the other way. If that doesn't suit and it's decided I've attempted to cheat the system, they can try me in court and stick me in jail - like they seem very fond of doing to anyone they think is rorting the system. At my stage of life I could do with a bit of looking after and jail these days seems not too bad an option. At least in jail, you might get taken a bit more notice of.
    Stretch
    22nd May 2015
    11:15am
    Yes, Centrelink's inability to handle people's attempts at reporting their change in circumstances is the main reason why so many are (tabloid press) reported to be cheating the system. Welfare recipients are always a convenient scapegoat, and YourLifeChoices has done their bit to help this myth.
    Stretch
    22nd May 2015
    11:15am
    Yes, Centrelink's inability to handle people's attempts at reporting their change in circumstances is the main reason why so many are (tabloid press) reported to be cheating the system. Welfare recipients are always a convenient scapegoat, and YourLifeChoices has done their bit to help this myth.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:58pm
    Ductape, I use snail mail now to report to Centrelink. Get adressed, prepaid envelopes from a Centrelink office
    MacI
    22nd May 2015
    8:39am
    There is no need for me to add my experiences with Centrelink call centre engaged signal and long wait times. What really bugs me about Centrelink and other call centres is that with modern PABX systems they are well aware of the number of drop outs, average wait times etc and yet do nothing to improve the service. This tells you something about how much they really value you as a customer. Try making a call to a call centre that wants to sell you something and surprise, surprise you hardly need to wait at all.

    Fortunately, these days I'm retired so I have the time to visit the local Centrelink office. I take a good book to while away the time. I also do what I can online. I guess this is Centrelink's long term strategy - to move people to self-service online.
    jackie
    22nd May 2015
    8:52am
    It's hard to get any response over the phone with any large business these days. Try your telecommunications company, utilities, police, other government bodies or corporation they are all the same. My recent online quick chat with my telco had a 20 minute wait time. That's the way all big business has gone.
    Old Dog
    22nd May 2015
    8:52am
    I have also had the pleasure of having to wait for someone to answer the phone at DHS. Not good. I consider myself reasonably computer literate but I find their web site difficult to navigate (perhaps I am too impatient). As I don't have a smart phone it is the only option for me. Face to face is also somewhat difficult as I live the best part of an hours drive from my closest DHS office. So, things that should get done often don't. A carer's allowance application should have been submitted over a year ago; information needed was not readily available so it was let slide. I guess many others are in the same boat but it is a bloody shame it is sinking.
    dougie
    22nd May 2015
    10:17am
    I think that the answer is for we who have computers and are somewhat computer literate to use that process to change and advise. This will cut down on call numbers. The staff I know are under pressure to perform but at the same time to ensure that when a call is processed it means the query etc has been answered or will be answered. Many people calling Centrelink are rude and abusive or unfortunately some are illiterate or do not speak reasonable English and this makes life difficult for both sides of the conversation. I believe we should just be patient do what we can ourselves and otherwise wait or visit the local office and wait.
    djennin
    22nd May 2015
    11:48am
    You must have the patience of Job or nothing better to do.
    particolor
    22nd May 2015
    10:18am
    OO Dat ?
    OO Dat say OO Dat ? :-)
    Nomad51
    22nd May 2015
    12:37pm
    I too try to do as much as possible on line, but unfortunately some things have to be face to face. This is where my problems started. I was given two forms to take home and fill out. Of course nothing is simple and easy with Centrelink; I needed some clarifications so I called the help number on the form to be greeted by an automated tutorial as to how to register for phone self help. I completed this and was placed in the queue. Eventually I was asked whether I wanted to be called back. I eventually got a call back, BUT wait for it; it was the same automated tutorial. I now have two text messages from Centrelink to tell me that I have successfully registered for phone self help.
    The only way I could finally talk to a human was to ring the complaints number (which took some time to find on the Centrelink site) and was put through to an officer after enduring many minutes of very bad waiting music.
    I also lodged a complaint via the Centrrelink site and was given a receipt number in case I needed to follow up. This was all about a month ago. I did get a call (on a Sunday of all days) to advise me of the obvious that I should have been able to talk to someone. I have since tried to find out how I could use the receipt number to follow up on my initial complaint, but I can't find any clues on their web site.
    I wouldn't call this service; I would call it mediocrity at it's best and it's not confined to just Centrelink. You can include Telstra, the NSW Trustee and Guardian and no doubt many other entities priding themselves as being service oriented.
    Someone suggested giving Centrelink to private enterprise and perhaps also throwing the ABC into the deal; the list can be much longer..
    Stretch
    22nd May 2015
    1:08pm
    The Job Network has been privatised, costing the tax-payer billions each year. The service they provide is poor and often rorted. See the Four Corners investigative report a month ago and reported in the broadsheet daily press.
    Running down a public service by cutting hundreds of staff - such as Centrelink - and then blaming the organisation for delivering a sub-standard service is not logical. It is however very political and very strategic. Blaming the public sector organisation itself lets politicians off the hook. Allowing an organisation to run down through lack of resources always lends to a call for privatisation as there is a belief that the private sector can do a better job. Private sector running of public utilities and functions is sometimes cheaper but not always. The private sector runs at profit - they are not benevolent societies and should not have to be - Melbourne public transport operators rely on their profit coming via the public purse and would not run it if they weren't making money out of it. Private sector operations channel their surplus in to their profit column, to be invested or spent as they wish to. I am puzzled why so many people think that the private sector is more efficient and better at running public services and utilities. They are not. They will however do exactly and contractually what they are paid to do - and no more. They will, to ensure their contract is renewed if they want it to be renewed, ensure they reach their service level agreement - but no more. They will also, by simply taking over an essential service, also take ownership of that knowledge, experience and control that once was in the public domain and belonged to the public.

    Bear with me on this example: The selling off and outsourcing of rubbish collection services (as a result of the National Competition Policy back in the 90's) in many parts of Sydney, initially resulted in a private operator underquoting to take on rubbish collection so they could eventually build a near-monopoly on this service. Whilst the true cost to the private sector bidder of the rubbish collection service delivery was held commercial-in-confidence, the true cost to the competing Council did not have that commercial-in-confidence privelege and Councils were not able to cross-subsidise their rubbish-collection costs as it was in breach of the NCP. The private sector, by taking over initially at a loss or break-even costs were able to wipe out any future viable threat to their business. As a Council or any public sector organisation/body it is almost impossible to rebuild the infrastructure, including the people needed and the trucks etc to be able to then compete for the rubbish collection service. Competition gone, private sector win.

    So, think twice before calling for privatisation - once gone, gone for good.
    Fran
    22nd May 2015
    1:35pm
    If I cannot resolve my enquiry on the net, depending on how important it is, I go to the office and take a book, I have never been called under 2hrs. If I don't have the time to wait I write a letter from home and post it. I always get a response from the letter within a reasonable time and it jumps all other means of contact, and I have everything in writing to file away. I guess it is because it is such a rarity these days!
    ranga
    22nd May 2015
    4:08pm
    Poor old Henk has either no clue what's going on, or has a puppet master making he waffle on regardless,
    etnorb
    22nd May 2015
    6:15pm
    I do like to visit the Centerlink office & talk to a person, in the flesh! However, almost everytime I am told that "there will be a long wait, up to an hour", even though,it seems the visible staff in the office are sitting at desks & not doing very much (playing games?). Usually I am told to go & use a computer, or a 'phone. When I do my fortnightly report, on the 'phone, I usually get through reasonably quickly (especially if I ring before 9 in the AM), but even then, sometimes, I have had to wait for a long time! If I ever need any questions asked or need some information, the office staff do not know the answers, & I still have to use the 'phone! I think, because the Employment section, the Pension section & the Medicare section are combined,that it seems, no one knows anything about what you want to know!
    particolor
    22nd May 2015
    8:35pm
    Hell ! You've got a Centrelink full of Shultz'es !:-(
    "I know Nusink !".......
    SuziJ
    23rd May 2015
    10:44am
    Being on a DSP, it's not easy to get into the Centrelink office @ 8.30am. Near impossible to see anyone after Noon, forget around 3pm, either! I have a telephone which has a bluetooth headset for it. Great to be able to to do computing or other 'stuff'' whilst waiting. I have waited for over an hour sometimes. Most of my questions are more complicated so the self-help and web are no help.
    mariac
    23rd May 2015
    10:54am
    Depends which Centrelink office you go to. Before I had problems with a certain centrelink office so I changed to another one. Nowadays I do everything online but when I rang and was told that they will ring me back , they did about 30 minutes later and when I needed to go to the office all I spent was 5minutes, took me more to go there than being in and out of there.
    mariac
    23rd May 2015
    10:54am
    Depends which Centrelink office you go to. Before I had problems with a certain centrelink office so I changed to another one. Nowadays I do everything online but when I rang and was told that they will ring me back , they did about 30 minutes later and when I needed to go to the office all I spent was 5minutes, took me more to go there than being in and out of there.
    Phoenix
    23rd May 2015
    11:04am
    They let you change to a different office? Wow. I was told I had to go to one particular office because it was assigned to my area - despite the fact that it is not the nearest one. I had to travel twice the distance. When I queried this the response was a stone wall.
    particolor
    23rd May 2015
    2:48pm
    Jackson is hard to get along with !! :-(
    mariac
    31st May 2015
    9:24pm
    Well I just went there and told them that it is easier for me and my husband to go there and they just served me.
    Phoenix
    23rd May 2015
    6:32pm
    Actually it's a shame old Stonewall isn't around today. If he was running Centrelink it would be a d---ed efficient organisation!
    particolor
    23rd May 2015
    8:01pm
    Would He pull them into Gear ? :-)
    Abby
    24th May 2015
    7:30pm
    Shame Politicians do not have to get their pension through Centrelink.
    particolor
    24th May 2015
    7:41pm
    :-) :-) :-)
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    6:59pm
    Since the Abbott Govt got in I can never get throug on the DSP line. I tried to enrol online but got impossibly lost half way through the process. So gave up on that. I went into Centrelink to report a change of circumstance and was told that that was dealt with on the phone and not in the office. She said the wait time was only 20 minutes. In my person experience and others, you can be on for even up to two tours and never get througi

    I rang my local MP‘s office using the Centrelink phone and the office staff said they had heard this many times before, and that she would deal with it. Soon after I got a high ranking officer approach me and he dealt with it all in a minute. I also asked if I could deal with everything by mail and he gave me two addressed prepaid envelopes. I have had to contact Centrelink twice since and I have used the two envelopes and all went well.

    Before Abbott, you got through in less than a few minutes. Also you could go into the office and get anything done there. But I was told by the officer who told me to use the phone they didn‘t have the staff anymore and I could blame the govt.

    Self service still works but you can only use it for advance payments, which I do and to check when and how much payment you are getting.

    Abbott Govt got rid of lots of Centrelink staff.

    There must be a lot of people losing payments as they can‘t get through to or be seen by Centrelink.
    bookwyrm
    25th May 2015
    7:00pm
    Since the Abbott Govt got in I can never get throug on the DSP line. I tried to enrol online but got impossibly lost half way through the process. So gave up on that. I went into Centrelink to report a change of circumstance and was told that that was dealt with on the phone and not in the office. She said the wait time was only 20 minutes. In my person experience and others, you can be on for even up to two tours and never get througi

    I rang my local MP‘s office using the Centrelink phone and the office staff said they had heard this many times before, and that she would deal with it. Soon after I got a high ranking officer approach me and he dealt with it all in a minute. I also asked if I could deal with everything by mail and he gave me two addressed prepaid envelopes. I have had to contact Centrelink twice since and I have used the two envelopes and all went well.

    Before Abbott, you got through in less than a few minutes. Also you could go into the office and get anything done there. But I was told by the officer who told me to use the phone they didn‘t have the staff anymore and I could blame the govt.

    Self service still works but you can only use it for advance payments, which I do and to check when and how much payment you are getting.

    Abbott Govt got rid of lots of Centrelink staff.

    There must be a lot of people losing payments as they can‘t get through to or be seen by Centrelink.
    particolor
    25th May 2015
    7:20pm
    No need to thank us !
    Your Obedient Servant
    Tones...
    Not Senile Yet!
    27th May 2015
    10:28pm
    For those who are ignorant of the reasons for your MP's or Party Puppets travelling overseas.....this is a Heads Up Article /Report!!!
    This system of out sourcing customer service to the Electronic World is a Direct Copy of the American System...implemented years ago to SAVE MONEY on wages to Government Employees!!!!
    It has nothing to do with being more efficient other than being More Efficient for the Government in terms of expenditure!!!
    The delays are not from DHS staff at all.....they are from a system overloaded by the Increase....almost doubling.....of the unemployed as well as the increase in demand for information on Retirement Options/Pensions caused by the Governments constant changing of the Super Rules as well as Pension Rules!!!!
    Not even their own fully trained staff can keep up with their ridiculous amount of changes!!!!
    Then they try to out-source services ....en masse....at a time when the required service has more than doubled!!!!
    But let's also remember.....they have also cut staff numbers.....not re-directed those fully trained....or stopped reducing their staff numbers!!!
    Why???.....To save money in wages in the short-term....that's why!!!
    When this Party slashes and Burns everything back so it can Balance it's budget into the Black.....they will crow about it loud and clear!!!
    But in the meantime...our economy is shrinking.....jobs and experience lost!!! Not to mention the ongoing cost to re-train...re-educate...or more important ....re-locate!!!!
    Are the Liberal Party under the delusion that constantly disrupting the workplace by Privatising everything and Downsizing everything is going to Boost our Economy......allow everyone to buy more by not being able to gain a wage rise to counteract the rising inflation of everything else in price????
    Do they not understand that you can only squeeze the worker so far and then it affects their buying power.....which directly affect the business owner's Selling ability.....which in turn is their profitability???
    The only gain in out-sourcing is if it is Planned very carefully and allowed to happen progressively over a Longer lead time and Staff carefully managed....rather than got rid of too quickly!!!!
    None of this is happening because none of the managers have been allowed to extend the time frame for transition.....and Senior Managers have been allocated a Time Frame Period to implement by People who have NO HANDS ON EXPERIENCE whatsoever or any intention of acquiring any either!
    Just like any American Model of Management.....it is based on Performance ONLY....of implementation within a tight time frame!!!
    particolor
    27th May 2015
    10:43pm
    I was just reading on an American Site that they are Limbering up to Swipe all the Superannuation Funds ?? :-(
    particolor
    27th May 2015
    10:50pm
    I know you read a lot of Garbage on the Internet, but that one opened My eyes !!
    But I was not surprised , I thought I was the only one that thought that was Coming ??

    29th May 2015
    10:47am
    Just tried to upload a document on their website and it returned "This service in not available at this time". This happens regularly. If the website worked reliably, there would be fewer calls and less need to visit C/link offices.
    Nomad51
    18th Oct 2016
    8:58am
    I have received two letters from Centrelink which contradict. I then went to the local office and wasted over an hour of my life. The officer could not explain the letters or how the numbers were arrived at. I was advised to ring the number for older Australians and arrange for a meeting with an advisor. After waiting for so long that phone battery died, I called back on a different phone and after a much shorter wait I was told that I could not get an appointment until December sometime. I got absolutely nowhere with the guy on the other end and he had no idea of geography; he was talking about offices hundreds of kilometres from where I live.
    I went back to my local Centrelink office and went though the whole saga again. While some progress was made, I was no closer to clarification BUT I must say that the officer arranged for a call back to arrange for a meeting with an advisor AND in a reasonable timeframe AND at my local branch.
    The problem with Centrelink is that their staff are not necessarily up to speed with everything and being fobbed off to call a number is no help either as the help on the other end is probably equally lacking. While I try to avoid Centrelink at times there are no alternatives. Their face to face service is lacking and calling a number is a waste of time as the statistics above reflect.
    particolor
    18th Oct 2016
    11:23am
    Yes I know :-( I FEEL for You :-( :-( Crook aint it !! :-(