How the Government plans to fix Centrelink call wait times

How does the Government plan to reduce painfully long Centrelink call wait times?

Can Centrelink wait times be fixed?

In a bid to reduce painfully long Centrelink call wait times and improve the delivery of services, the Government plans to add 250 new call centre operators and pour more money into its digital channels.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge announced that the additional 250 operators will guarantee the services on which Australians rely.

The new operators will answer phone enquiries solely about Centrelink payments and services, and not calls regarding Medicare or Child Support.

They will focus on answering less complex calls, such as reporting requirements, helpdesk enquiries and queries about online services.

Earlier this year, analysis from The Conversation revealed that, in 2015–16, 68,433,091 Centrelink calls were attempted, of which 28,911, 410 were blocked and 39,441,581 went through, although 7,122,978 of these calls were abandoned before the issue was totally resolved. Less than half of the calls made to Centrelink were actually ‘handled’. The study showed that, while the average call wait time was 15 minutes and 9 seconds, the average wait time was brought down by lines with significantly less demand.

The Government hopes that the additional operators will help to bring this wait time down, but it also claims it is working to reduce the need for people to call in the first place, with significant investments to upgrade its digital channels.

Around 130 million Centrelink transactions are now conducted online and, by pouring $1 billion into its Welfare Payment System (WPIT), the Government hopes to reduce the need for human oversight even further.

It may do so at its peril, with evidence that it’s robo-debt recovery scheme has failed Centrelink welfare recipients, many of whom have received incorrect debt notices generated by automated systems that had little or no human oversight to correct the errors.

Still, it is commendable that the Government is trying to deliver improved access and services. Hopefully these additional call centre operators will mean that recipients will, at the very least, have their calls answered.


Is the addition of 250 call centre operators enough to restore your faith in Centrelink customer service?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    16th May 2017
    Just wait till the new Disclosure rules come in on January 1st 2018.When ALL Financial institutions inc.Superannuation Funds, Annuity Providers etc will have to report to Centrelink.
    And your Tax Debt being listed on Credit Score Companies.
    Old Geezer
    16th May 2017
    Robo debt will go into overdrive.
    16th May 2017
    That is going to cost us more money I expect to pay for all the compliance. What a disaster.
    invisible sock
    16th May 2017
    There is a very simple way to resolve these phone delays.
    Don't use the phone, use email.
    Centrelink needs to provide, easily available, email addresses for all the various services it provides.
    No more navigating through annoying number menus, on your phone, until you, get so frustrated, that you eventually give up.
    Emails also have the added advantage of providing a written record, of your problem, and Centrelink's response to it.
    16th May 2017
    You have obviously never had the 'excuse' that the e-mail never arrived or was sent to 'junk' and deleted then?

    And instead of waiting for hours, you will be waiting for days/weeks for a response until your enquiry gets to the top of the list.
    invisible sock
    16th May 2017
    "In a bid to reduce painfully long Centrelink call wait times and improve the delivery of services, the Government plans to add 250 new call centre operators and pour more money into its digital channels."

    Are you suggesting that the Government is not genuine in their above endeavor?
    Emails would be a much more efficient system because they could prioritize emails using software to search for key words.
    You can also request acknowledgement of receipt when you send them.
    16th May 2017
    Can't use email as they would be completely overwhelmed with millions of emails every day.

    The haven't enough staff to answer phones or talk to people in person. Who's gonna answer the emails?

    Add to that the fact that ½ the emails received would just be abusive rubbish from crackpots. Then 49% would be long, rambling, illogical rubbish, with insufficient practical information for anyone to action.

    That would leave just 1% - and I am being generous here - that would write a very short, clear, succinct email, with all the information needed for someone to action quickly and easily. Clearly beyond the capabilities of many people on this site.

    So you are stuck with phones. Live with it, or do something about it. And a hint, a change of government is not the answer we are looking for here. Those will memories longer than what you had for lunch an hour ago, will recall that the ALP has never done anything either.
    invisible sock
    16th May 2017
    I just checked their sites and was surprised to find that there are a lot more email addresses than there used to be.
    Apparently, they are going down this road already.

    16th May 2017
    There are lies, damned lies and statistics. I don't believe any statistics produced by any political party because they are invariably "doctored". Do they include the calls of people who have hung up?
    16th May 2017
    What if you don't have access to a Computer or are Computer Illiterate?
    maybe don't have a Smart Phone!
    16th May 2017
    Without a computer or a smart phone I suppose Centrelink cannot recognize people on their books :)
    In my opinion it doesn't bode well for the future as people do get beyond using computers especially if they are forced into aged care facilities which do not allow them to take their computer with them when they move in.
    There are also a lot of folk who are having trouble with accessing the Internet since the NBN was introduced, it may work well in the cities but doesn't in many regional areas and rural can be a bit of a disaster.
    Then there are those people who are unable to afford the cost of a new computer and also those who do not want the stress of having to learn a new operating system if they buy a new model when their computer breaks down.
    16th May 2017
    What no comment about the almost 21/5 - 3 times the population making calls to Centrelink and the number of transactions equalling around 51/2 times the population of Australia?

    No wonder there are delays and no wonder there are concerns with welfare affordability!
    16th May 2017
    Gee, big deal, adding 250 phone operators. Wow, that will really make a difference - NOT.
    16th May 2017
    hi rtrish, that will be 250 more people to at least speak to you so the waiting time should reduce, you would hope anyway & its 250 people employed to preform a task so it could reintroduce some women/men back into the workforce or take people of the unemployment benefit. So not ideal but it is helpful in other ways.
    16th May 2017
    Average waiting time of 15 minutes 9 seconds!!! What a joke. People I speak to and including myself can wait at least an hour and then be told to go online. The real problem with Centrelink is that they do not want to speak to clients at all. The frustration, worry and stress they cause is enormous. I gave up trying to communicate with them a long time ago and send information through the mail.
    16th May 2017
    250 more people who will have access to all our private information?
    16th May 2017
    I remember 7 years ago when I retired trying to contact Centrelink by phone, I could never get through, each time I tried the system couldn't recognise my voice, so asked me to put in a password, which I did, same result, so I used to give up in frustration, I then used to go down to my local office, always tried to get here early, usually got seen to straight away, then for some reason the opening hours changed to half an hour later. Nowadays I almost never have to visit the office, you can do most things online, which has been a huge improvement as long as what you want to do is straight forward. The only issue I have is when I try to change certain information using my iPad the submit button doesn't work, so I have to revert back to my lap top, has anyone else had this problem?
    16th May 2017
    Perhaps a overseas call centre good enough for the banks.
    16th May 2017
    Can't believe this Govt has a spare $1 Billion to throw at the WPT! Maybe some Private IT vendors are rubbing their hands with glee waiting to get their cut of the pie - hope it is not the same mob which stuffed up the Robo debt system? Wha a waste of taxpayers money!
    Much better to simplify things and reduce Centrelink work e.g. pay Age Pensions to all (through ATO) for all who worked here & paid taxes for say 20 years, and tax all income above that. Such people dropping out of Centrelink database would mean their budget can be massively reduced.
    Tante Chrissie
    17th May 2017
    The first hurdle is that you cannot do a thing either by phone or online until you have a number. To get the magic number you have to go to an office.