Centrelink's diabolical unanswered call rate
There’s good news and bad news from Centrelink. The good news is that unanswered calls have dropped; the bad news is that in the past year they still numbered nearly 48 million. Needless to say the agency failed – again – to meet customer satisfaction targets and complaints increased rather than dropped.
You may be pleased to know that Human Services Department secretary Renée Leon has acknowledged she does not consider the latest numbers as “mission accomplished”, Fairfax Media reports. “I don't know that we're going to solve it this year, but I hope that we will continue to drive it down,” she said. This is despite the Government approving the employment of 1500 extra labour hire staff in August.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert said: “We thought it was high when we were getting to 22 million, and that was [in] 2014-15, so we've still got a significant way to go. It's good to see it's come down, but sorry if I'm not popping any party poppers yet.”
Complaints about Centrelink hit 237,000 last year, an increase of 68,000, with most relating to long waits and lack of updates on claims.
Human Services spokesman Hank Jongen told Fairfax that the number of complaints to the ombudsman should be viewed in perspective as the volume of the department's interactions with the public reached hundreds of thousands each day.
In YourLifeChoices’ 2018 Retirement Matters survey, which attracted 5932 responses, we asked for your evaluation of Centrelink. Respondents were very measured but the overwhelming number of written responses decried the efficiency of the system.
Typical responses were:
“I have been told that I am getting a pension, I have been waiting over five months. I find them hard to deal with.”
“(They) take far too long to answer phones, don't give enough information.”
“It’s always difficult to talk to anyone on the phone etc and when I go into an office, the wait is ages again and then you only get a number in a queue. (And) I get conflicting information from everyone I talk to.”
“Mainly very long waiting times, both in office and phone, due to understaffing.”