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Tuesday, 14 June 2005
Page: 191

Mr Albanese asked the Minister for Human Services, in writing, on 17 February 2005:

(1)   In respect of the imminent closure of the Ashfield and Strathfield Centrelink Offices in Sydney which are to be amalgamated into one office at Burwood, what community consultation took place before the decision to close the offices was made?

(2)   What client consultation took place before the decision to close the offices was made?

(3)   Is the Minister aware that the Ashfield Centrelink office specifically catered for elderly and immobile clients who will now have to travel a further 4 kilometres to attend the Burwood Centrelink office and what measures will be put in place to assist these people?

(4)   What are the access arrangements at Burwood (ie lifts, ramps, stairs etc.)?

(5)   What is the range of services available at Burwood?

(6)   Are there specialised services for the elderly at Burwood?

Mr Hockey (Minister for Human Services) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   Efforts to reconsolidate the office at Burwood have been pursued for the last five years. Informal consultations occurred with individuals from service organisations and through meetings of local Migrant Advisory Committees. Social workers also discussed the issue with a number of local community organisations.

(2)   Due to concerns about parking and poor access to the office raised by Ashfield customers, staff have for some time been advising customers that plans were underway to find more suitable accommodation and customer feedback has been very positive. Staff have also been advising customers who visit the office for regular appointments about the planned move. The response has been favourable and no concerns have been raised by customers.

(3)   For the majority of customers, the new location at Burwood will be more convenient and will have better transport options than those currently operating at Ashfield. The new office at Burwood is closer to the local railway station than the Ashfield Office and has more direct bus services than Ashfield. As is the case now, elderly and immobile customers are able to request a home visit if they are unable to get to the Burwood office.

(4)   It is planned to have Family Assistance and Retirement Services on the ground floor. There is ramp access to the main entrance. Ramp access and stairs are available to Level One, which will provide Employment, Youth and Disability Services. In addition there are three lifts in the main building foyer, which also has ramp access.

(5)   The full range of Customer Service Centre services will be available at Burwood. These include Employment, Youth, Retirement, Disability, Families, Social Work, Psychology, Financial Information, Personal Advisers, Jobs, Education and Training, Multicultural Services and Interpreters.

(6)   The full range of retirement services offered by Centrelink will be available at Burwood.