According to evidence presented to a Senate estimates hearing, over the past 10 months, more than 42 million calls to Centrelink received an engaged signal.
The number of calls to Centrelink receiving an engaged signal has skyrocketed from 29 million last year and 22 million the year before.
“This is an astronomical number representing Australians trying to access supports, adjust their payments, seek information or update their earnings,” said Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
Call wait times for essential Centrelink services average anywhere from 8 minutes to 38 minutes, with calls for age pensioners averaging between 18 minutes and 28 minutes.
The Government intends to contract 250 additional call centre staff to help lower the high number of calls that fail to reach an operator.
However, Labor Senator Murray Watt pointed out that “Employing those 250 people, we work out, would require [them] to take 460 calls each day, every day of the year just to answer those missed calls.”
Twitter user, Dan Buzzard, shared a screenshot on 4 January 2017 showing that it took 378 attempts over a few hours before his call was answered, with a further 90-minute wait before he spoke to a human operator.
Only time will tell if the additional 250 call centre staff will be enough to ease the strain on Centrelink phone lines.
For those trying to report a change in income, it would be ironic to be hit with a robo-debt notice if they couldn’t get through by phone.
What do you think? Is the Government doing enough to respect Centrelink clients’ time? What do you believe is a fair wait time for a call to Centrelink? Would you prefer to go to a Centrelink office rather than attempt to reach them by phone?