Funding boost to Centrelink: the good the bad and the ugly

Will the Government's strategy of outsourcing Centrelink call centre staff to a private company bring an end to the wait time woes?

Over the last decade thousands of Centrelink jobs have been cut. This has paved the way for a huge blow out in call wait times and millions being met with the frustrating engaged tone on the end of the line.

Processing times have been a casualty too. In 2015 the average processing of the Age Pension was 34 days, but by the end of 2016 it was up to 57 days. Worse still, CPSA frequently hears from people who have waited up to six months to start to receive the pension.

Late April 2018, the Australian Government announced it would fund an additional 1,000 Centrelink call centre workers who will be contracted by a private company.

This move follows the decision late last year to hire Serco, a multinational company, to provide 250 extra Centrelink call centre workers. Serco is pitted to receive this new contract, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to fund the 1,000 extra workers for three years.

So the good news is there will be more people answering Centrelink phones, the bad news is that more Government money is going to private shareholders and the ugly news is that we are starting down the road of privatising yet another critical public service.