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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 321


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (15:44): I, and also on behalf of Senator Cameron, move:

That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 10 May 2017:

The design, scope, cost-benefit analysis, contracts awarded and implementation associated with the Better Management of the Social Welfare System initiative, with particular reference to:

(a) the impact of Government automated debt collection processes upon the aged, families with young children, students, people with disability and jobseekers and any others affected by the process;

(b) the administration and management of customers' records by Centrelink, including provision of information by Centrelink to customers receiving multiple payments;

(c) the capacity of the Department of Human Services and Centrelink services, including online, IT, telephone services and service centres to cope with levels of demand related to the implementation of the program;

(d) the adequacy of Centrelink complaint and review processes, including advice or direction given to Centrelink staff regarding the management of customer queries or complaints;

(e) data-matching between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office and the selection of data, including reliance upon Pay As You Go income tax data;

(f) the process of awarding any contracts related to the debt collection system;

(g) the error rates in issuing of debt notices, when these started being identified and steps taken to remedy errors;

(h) the Government's response to concerns raised by affected individuals, Centrelink and departmental staff, community groups and parliamentarians;

   (i) Centrelink's Online Compliance Intervention (OCI) and its compliance with debt collection guidelines and Australian privacy and consumer laws;

(j) the adequacy of departmental management of the OCI, including:

   (i) the adequacy of staff numbers to manage the workload associated with the OCI, including customer complaints,

   (ii) what impact the roll-out of the OCI has had on other areas of work and whether resources have been diverted from other areas,

   (iii) training and development provided to staff who are working on this program or in related areas (for example, telephony and complaints),

   (iv) how the Department of Human Services and Centrelink are tracking the impact of the OCI rollout on staff, including stress and incidents of customer aggression,

   (v) any advice and related information available to the Department of Human Services in relation to potential risks associated with the OCI and what action was taken as a result, including feedback arising from system testing and staff, and

   (vi) decisions taken in relation to IT systems and service design that may have contributed to problems experienced by Centrelink clients; and

(k) any other related matters.