Centrelink blocks 60k calls a day

More than 22 million phone calls to Centrelink were blocked in the past year.

Yesterday, senior public servants from the Department of Human Services informed the Senate Estimates Committee that more than 22 million phone calls to Centrelink were blocked in the past year. It has been claimed that smartphone apps were to blame for the blockages, with up to 1000 calls at a time bombarding the phone systems.

A blocked call occurs when the agency is handling a large volume of calls – with the queuing system not allowing any more users to enter the queue. The 22 million phone calls blocked in 2014/15 is a significant increase on the 13 million blocked in 2013/14.

Early this year, a National Audit Office also revealed that Australians spent 143 years waiting to speak to Centrelink consultants in 2013/14 before simply hanging up in frustration.

“From questions during estimates it appears that Centrelink has no interest in taking further action in driving down the worrying statistics,” said West Australian Senator Rachel Siewert. “At a time when the government is happy to paint people on income support as 'dole bludgers', having infrastructure in place that clearly can't cope with demand shows a fundamental flaw.”

Read more from www.canberratimes.com.au

Read more from The Age.


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    27th Oct 2015
    And their website is woeful. I go to dozens of websites daily and none is as faulty, unhelpful and cumbersome as the government websites. Who are we paying to bungle this situation so badly?

    My partner is retired but works part time and each fortnight, I report his income, online. This is only possible 1 fortnight in every 3 or 4, the rest of the time, the reporting page is not available on the site, or there's some other problem on the site and he must drive down and queue up at Centrelink. It seems anything to do with the government, we can expect bad service or no service. And "our" government couldn't care less.
    27th Oct 2015
    And Malcontent says we are living in the age of technology, science, innovation etc.
    27th Oct 2015
    Funny isn't it? Says he who's foisting his NBN from last century, on us. Things are doomed to get worse!
    29th Oct 2015
    Don't understand this, Jen. I'm in the same situation as your partner and have to report (online) every second Friday. I've been doing this for nearly two years, and not once have I had a problem. I also note that, when contacting Centrelink by phone for other reasons, they could not be more pleasant or helpful!
    29th Oct 2015
    Beats me, GiGi. A long-term friend of ours manages one of our local Centrelink offices and she also, is frustrated with the high number of problems on the website.
    27th Oct 2015
    This is really dreadful, especially for staff at Centrelink. People come into the office frustrated and angry after waiting on the phone and being cut off/blocked so many times. I realise that these clients are on 'benefits' but that is not the issue here. Everyone deserves to get good customer service from the source they are linked to. I have been an employee at Centrelink and the stress for both staff and patrons brought about by the poor phone and website coverage is disgraceful. We expect, and deserve, better treatment from such a huge Government Department.
    Pass the Ductape
    27th Oct 2015
    Then the answer must surely be to get rid of Henk!
    Happy cyclist
    27th Oct 2015
    I feel really sorry for the Centrelink staff who undoubtedly cop lots of abuse and rudeness for something which is not their fault.
    27th Oct 2015
    I've often stood up for C'link staff - it must be a very stressful job. I'ver never had anything but kindness and help, thanks Frisby.
    29th Oct 2015
    What's wrong with Henk, may I enquire. Have you ever listened to him? He's a delightful man. But, more to the point, it is not his fault if government can't or wont fund technological improvements at Centrelink!
    27th Oct 2015
    I was on disability support pension for about 9years before I became eligible for age pension and it was a continuous battle to get Centrelink to see reason. Some of the fights were over.....

    Centrelink refusing to communicate by email because of high security reasons, but further refusing to accept that you don't need high security, for low security information.

    Centrelink refusing to provide male/female toilets for people waiting a long time to be attended to.

    Centrelink complaining my casual work income was incorrect because I didn't declare the interest earned on my $2000 in the bank. (trivial waste of everyones time)

    Centrelink not considering that people may still want to use employment services after they go on age pension.

    Every month there was some new crisis and then it was: Dear Minister for Human Services.....centrelink, centrelink, centrelink.
    27th Oct 2015
    How can this be newsworthy? Why is anyone surprised? This is just another means to save the public money. Sadly its another blight on the Australian society.
    27th Oct 2015
    The Centrelink system is designed that way.

    They exist as a Government service to give away Government money.
    But the Government doesn't want to give away money.
    If you can't contact them, they save money, and that looks good at budget time.
    It is completely irrelevant to them that people are missing out on their entitlements.
    It is their view that saving money means they are doing a good job.
    And the politicians are then happy because they have more to spend on themselves.

    I'm waiting for the day when it is outsourced to an Indian call centre. They will really save some money then.
    27th Oct 2015
    Only a few months ago we were advised via this website that Telstra had a five year contract to manage the "DHS" call centre with two 1 year extensions to it. They apparently have lost millions already on the deal but are willing to keep running it for the bigger picture to run the whole of government services call centre in the future. I remember reading a report at that time (I think around June 2015) that when they do their financial reporting they report on this section separately in order not to drag down their financial standing!
    God help us all if this eventually happens.
    I still maintain snail mail is the way to go to get an answer/outcome to anything. Nobody takes any notice of e-mails and of course nobody can actually get through to talk. Snail mail is a novelty and most of the time gets answered, especially if you have decent hand-writing for the recipient to "admire"!!
    27th Oct 2015
    We can't contact them to report changes in circumstances but if they detect the tiniest little innocent error they want to send you to jail - in a flash. I can't recall a single incident with Centrelink that they didn't make an error I then had to spend hours and hours trying to fix.
    I have been casting about for a word that captures the 'asleep at the wheel' Centrelink and it is somewhere along a continuum from Greek to Mexican to Disaster. They give an entirely new meaning to 'hasta mañana'.
    27th Oct 2015
    OMG the thought of Centrelink with an Indian call centre horrifies me - after my problems with our telephone. If any one could win an award for being as sweet as sugar & as inefficient as possble, its Indian Call Centres !

    Centrelink users have almost been co-erced into to using Internet & smart phones. Last time hubby went to hand in some request information, they gave him an envelope & said post it yourself.

    Now I do them a favour ! Tell them nothing unless they ask ! Our Centrelink Centre is enormous with about 50 work stations. Once was fully staffed, then it was almost empty, now half has been given to Medicare. And still only 1 queuing place !

    To fund the huge welfare debt, they just need to collect Tax from the big earners, stop subsidising miners & dirty energy, cut the rip off of concessions on Super. Why should you be allowed to put earn money & not pay tax on it just because you put it into super for your own future use ?

    27th Oct 2015
    Centrelink's CEO's salary is $7MILL per annum and he receives a bonus for every person that gets knocked back from the system. Privatisation has done nothing to improve Centrelink services.
    27th Oct 2015
    Costs billions to run it huge infastructure and pays out a fraction in benifits.
    27th Oct 2015
    I have at times waited for some time when phoning Centrelink but I must report a good news story. I had to report the death of my pensioner mother so phoned Centrelink and was answered within a couple of minutes but the call "fell out" so I tried again, again it was answered almost immediately but this time the person on the other end of the phone could not hear me so I hung up and phoned again. Again the call was answered immediately and I was able to sort everything out without any hassles so sometimes the response is in very good time.
    Pass the Ductape
    27th Oct 2015
    Perhaps if we all refuse to comply with Centrelink demands and do nothing - and when the gaols become clogged with Centrelink malcontents - something might get done about it. I gave up on Centrelink years ago. Just waiting for the knock on the door any day - and frankly I couldn't care less!
    27th Oct 2015
    I agree
    27th Oct 2015
    I tried to speak to Centrelink recently and did find a person who could not answer a simple question that will apply from January next year. That is two months away.
    I then held for one hour and 15 minutes before hanging up. They are useless.
    27th Oct 2015
    Big deal! We can now make our own changes to our profiles especially the banking and assets we have in our home. If we make ONE tiny change trying to be honest and let them know they're immediately on your tail! I only informed them of my increased rent online. I have been living here for over 10 years and they stopped my rent because they didn't have the paperwork to prove I was still living here so I stormed into Centrelink office and demanded the reinstatement of my rental. I quickly got it fixed! You can't trust them when changing a small detail so I won't bother anymore! Every year my rent goes up, but in the end I thought why bother? You won't more! The only time our rental assistance increases is in March and September. The MyGov page is a total waste of time and money trying to go through one door after another. I wish I could win the lottery and say good-bye to Centrelink forever!!
    Tom Tank
    27th Oct 2015
    Simple answer is don't blame Centrelink and it's employees look to the real culprits, the ones who insist on cuts to Government spending, except of course to their own "entitlements".
    Hypocrisy of the worst type.
    27th Oct 2015
    Get ride of the auto phone system it take 10min to get through it then if you haven't got a crn it won't let you continue. Useless.
    27th Oct 2015
    Agree Tom
    And, of course, Tony Abbott was only PM for for half a term, so his entitlements should be pretty low.
    Same goes for Joe Hockey and a number of other Ministers whose names I have already forgotten.

    Lets see what their entitlements end up being.
    I bet they each get enough to support at least 10 to 15 of us "lower class" retirees.

    What a corrupt system we have allowed our government to become.
    27th Oct 2015
    I don't think centrelink want to talk they are happy you can't get through. So annoying to get hung up on when you've wait for 90 minutes it happens all the time. Medicare is the same anf MyGov is useless to.

    28th Oct 2015
    Keep away from the bastards and you don"t have a problem
    1st Nov 2015
    The government and their departments would have no clue what customer service is. If any private company treated customers the same way centrelink or any other govt dept does they would be bankrupt in a week. Get your act together Centrelink, stop the excuses and get on with doing a good job. You are a joke.
    2nd Nov 2015
    On the subject of "customer service" there are many Australian businesses also, that don't know what it is, especially those operating in country regions where there is no competition. They practically tell the customers what brand to buy. That's the brand where they have the greatest profit margin and don't have to do any extra work in handling and paperwork.
    When I go into a store and say "can you get this product in for me" they should be jumping at the chance and saying" I'll ask the manager, can I get your phone number and call you back" but instead they say "Eeeer I don't know, I don't think we do that??" and even when somebody tells them to increase their customer service, they put a sign on the counter that says "customer service" and pay somebody more, to say the same thing.
    So the customer just goes straight home and gets the product delivered to their doorstep by buying it on EBAY.
    Customer service is about giving a little bit more, not doing as little as possible. Like the hotels do when they are not selling enough alcohol. They provide a counter lunch at a reasonable price so people are more likely to stay for a couple of drinks.
    30th Dec 2016
    The sign in our Centrelink office says: Any verbal/physical abuse will not be tolerated.

    Seems so hypocritical when they are the main cause of our stress through incompetent work procedures. If its not on their screen, your problem cannot exist.
    I thought I was being very polite when I said to the guy, thankyou for your help, and the look of sheer disgust on his face was memorable.
    p.s. I WAS thankful
    Not Senile Yet!
    11th Jan 2017
    Oh my my my....and the worst is still to come from this bunch of Party puppets at the control of the Exteme right wing group which has kidnapped control of the Liberal Party at Caucus level with the controlling numbers to do as they please!
    The Old Liberal Party with its Fairness to All policies is Dead!
    Stop voting for Party Puppets who only do as they are told by their Parties so they keep their jobs as MP's. VOTE THEM ALL OUT....first chance you get!
    It's called Sacking them!
    Cos they are not Serving you the Voter...but rather their Party.....so they can continue taking their salaries but not do what they are paid to do!
    What's that you say?
    Argue for a Fair go for all!
    That's their job.....an MP is supposed to speak out/up if the Government's Policies are unfair or Corrupt.....which they simply are not doing right now!
    Job performance we all know about...we have bosses!
    But their Bosses are not the PM or their Party!
    Their Bosses are US....THE VOTERS!
    We need to SACK THEM!
    They have been corrupted by their Parties to conform....to be silent!
    That is their Corruption....they are okaying their Parties Dictatorship!
    Question is? ......
    Will you the Voter allow it to Continue???
    31st Jan 2018
    I use the Mygov site for adjustments and when I do call I get great service..The Myagedcare phone is well staffed and very courteous..CentreLink staff are polite and helpful but with the 1 million plus on benefits there are bound to be waiting times..if u don't work what's the hurry in waiting ..my mobile has free calls and so costs nothing while I do other jobs waiting for calls on loudspeaker. Governments rely on paperwork and questions so figure out a plan to have their system work for you instead of fighting it!!

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