18 October 2023
Dear Minister Shorten,
I am writing to you with two key issues I would like to bring to your attention.
Firstly, the considerable overstrain currently within Services Australia, and to inquire about how the government plans to address escalating issues within the agency.
Our electorate office, like many throughout the country, is experiencing an increased number of constituents contacting us regarding inaccessibility within Services Australia, which is amplified due to the current cost of living crisis.
The key issues experienced by constituents include:
• Significantly long claim-processing times
• 30-minute-plus telephone hold times
• Automatic telephone hang-ups
• Internal IT and administrative errors
• Overall inaccessibility and poor customer service
Our Parliamentary liaison officer and Service Centre Manager at Services Australia Brookvale, Conrad Makin, is incredibly helpful and effective at escalating and resolving constituent issues. However, often by the time a constituent contacts us, they have exhausted all other avenues, are experiencing financial hardship, and immense stress.
Constituents that need to access Services Australia are often the most resource poor. Spending a considerable amount of time trying to contact Centrelink places a considerable burden on some of society’s most vulnerable.
As frustration grows within the community, Services Australia staff bare the brunt of this. It is important that Services Australia has enough staff to effectively manage the workload, not just for constituents, but also for staff morale and safety. I would appreciate information and confirmation on what steps are being taken to immediately improve the issues currently being experienced with Services Australia, for the safety and well being of constituents and Services Australia staff.
Secondly, I seek a timeline on how and when the government will implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission in to the Robodebt scheme. It is important for the government to maintain it’s commitment to regaining the trust of the Australian citizens, and deliver a clear path forward, on how and when these recommendations will be implemented. The implementation of these key recommendations would allow for the significant cultural changes needed within Services Australia.
Thank you for your attention on these matters and I look forward to your response.
Zali Steggall OAM, MP
Federal Member for Warringah
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