Thursday, 28 January 2016

A total of 22 million calls to Centrelink went unanswered in 2014-15 - is this part of a deliberate policy?

This is the Turnbull Government on 23 January 2016 trying to convince Australian voters that the only reason that Centrelink calls go unanswered is because of unforeseen circumstances:

More than 22 million phone calls to Centrelink went unanswered in the past financial year, with the welfare agency blaming emergencies and a complex payment system for its worsening performance.

Only 40 million of the 62 million attempts to contact Centrelink by phone in 2014-15 were successful, meaning the agency answered 4 million fewer calls than it managed the previous year.

The proportion of calls being answered has plummeted from 75 per cent in 2013-14 to 64 per cent in 2014-15.

The deteriorating performance comes despite the agency pledging to do more to improve its customer service effort after it was savaged in a mid-2015 report by the Australian National Audit Office, answers to Senate inquiry questions reveal.

Australians spent 143 years waiting in vain to speak to Centrelink in 2013-14, before simply hanging up, the auditors calculated.

Centrelink's key strategy in combating the problems with its telephone service has been to try to divert clients onto its online services, but the system was dogged by mass lock-outs, meltdowns and other glitches during 2015.

Sorry, Turnbull & Co – Centrelink staff gave the game away two years ago when they were freely telling people that soon the only way individuals on pensions and other welfare payments would be allowed to access this federal government agency would be by registering with and accessing information or lodging documents while online.

That phone or face contact would be for unusual circumstances or emergencies only.

This I was told was departmental policy. No ifs and no buts.

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