Paterson MP Meryl Swanson has slammed Centrelink’s annual report, which shows that call wait times continued to blow out during the past financial year.
“My electorate office in Raymond Terrace has been swamped with constituents who have had trouble getting through to, or interacting with, Centrelink,” Ms Swanson said.
Centrelink is under-resourced, under-staffed, and needs more permanent, full-time staff who are qualified and familiar with the often complex issues faced by Australians who need income support.
“Instead of giving jobs to informed and well-trained Australians, Centrelink is pointing people towards an increasingly unfriendly web of online and automated services,” Ms Swanson said.
Ms Swanson said more people in the electorate of Paterson contacted her office to seek help interacting with Centrelink than any other issue.
“My staff members have built good working relationships with people who work for Centrelink, and we have great empathy for the demands they face,” Ms Swanson said. “But that does not change the fact that their employer, the Turnbull Government and its Department of Human Services, is failing many Australians.”
Ms Swanson said that it was laughable that Centrelink was trying to spin its 15 minute, 44-second average waiting time as anything less than appalling.
“Centrelink provides support to people from all walks of life at all stages of their life cycle. Yes, it’s people calling employment hotlines. It’s also young people and students. It’s parents phoning about disability, sickness and carers’ payments. It’s our aged pensioners.
“The elderly are being increasingly channelled towards services that can be generationally unfriendly,” Ms Swanson said. “The Turnbull Government needs to act now to ensure services to our most vulnerable citizens do not deteriorate further during the next financial year.”