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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 246

Centrelink and Medicare Call Centres

(Question No. 482)

Mrs Elliot asked the Minister representing the Minister for Human Services, in writing, on 24 September 2014:

In respect of a statement by the Minister's department on 18 September 2014 claiming that Telstra staff will be taking up to 200 jobs in Centrelink and Medicare call centres, (a) what guarantees will be provided that current pay rates and working conditions will not be diminished for those call centre staff retaining employment, (b) will Telstra be able to (i) use third party call centre operators as it does with its own call centre network, and (ii) relocate offshore the call centre work that it will undertake on the behalf of Centrelink and Medicare, (c) what actions will be undertaken by the Minister's department and Telstra to guarantee the security of personal and medical information currently held by Centrelink and Medicare in the event that call centre services are transferred to Telstra, and (d) what restrictions will be implemented to ensure that the personal and confidential records of Centrelink and Medicare clients will be protected to mitigate against potential fraud.

Mr Andrews: The Minister for Human Services, has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(a) The setting of pay rates and conditions for departmental employees is done through the Enterprise Agreement and cannot be impacted or changed by this proposal to partner with Telstra. The department will continue to adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in the Enterprise Agreement.

(b) Telstra will:

(i) determine if they use a third party provider or Telstra employees;

(ii) not be able to relocate offshore the work that it will undertake.

(c) Maintaining the safety and security of customers' personal information is of the utmost importance to the department. Should the arrangement proceed, the department would include within the contract arrangements with Telstra, appropriate controls to ensure the ongoing integrity of the department's customer information. This would include ensuring that a condition in the contract specifies that individuals employed by Telstra are subject to the same standards, integrity and privacy requirements as Department of Human Services (DHS) employees.

(d) The department has excellent systems to ensure the integrity of customer data and these same systems will apply to the proposed arrangement. This includes mechanisms to mitigate potential fraud activity.