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Centrelink waiting lists hit 3 week mark.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

Wayne Swan MP

(Member for Lilley)

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

 

 

CENTRELINK WAITING LISTS HIT 3 WEEK MARK

 

Hot on the heels of its inability to answer 80% of all phone calls the embattled government welfare agency, C entrelink, has lurched into yet another crisis with revelations today that the needy are forced to wait up to 3 weeks to get a face to face appointment.

 

The Opposition revealed today an internal Centrelink survey conducted in January showing waiting lists across 279 Centrelink offices Australia wide (attached).

 

The figures revealed just under half or 43% of all offices Australia wide had waiting lists of five days or longer . One office - Windsor in NSW, had a waiting list 3 weeks long .

 

“If you are sick or have a tooth ache you can get an appointment within a day or two, but if your pension has been cut or you’ve been retrenched, short on money and have a family to look after, chances are you will be left hanging on for days if not weeks, ” the Shadow Minister for family and Community Services, Wayne Swan said.

 

“If you live outside Rockhampton (waiting period 7 days) Swan Hill (8 days) Port Pine (10 days) or Benalla (16 days) and you haven’t been able to get through on the phone, you drive to town only to be told to wait weeks for an appointment.

 

“This gridlock is the direct result of the Federal Government’s $150 million budget and 5000 staff cuts

 

Mr Swan went on to say that the Government’s claims of improving service in Centrelink was ‘the stuff of fantasy.’

 

“Clearly Centrelink’s remaining staff are struggling to keep their heads above water, and despite Centrelink’s positioning by the Federal Government as a business it has failed to offer a comparable service to any private sector organisation.

 

“Imagine if a bank failed to answer 80% of its calls and upon walking into a branch told you its first appointment was 3 weeks away. It would be out of business!

 

“The Government must take responsibility for the crisis in Centrelink and provide it with the resources to ensure it can deliver the necessary services in a timely way to those who depend on it for assistance.”

 

ENDS FRIDAY 11 Mar 99

 

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 

 Matt Linden on 0414 953 525

 

 

 

SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

 

ADD ITIONAL ESTIMATES HEARING

9 FEBRUARY 1999

 

Family & Community Services

 

Program: Centrelink Question No: 15

 

Senator Evans asked on notice on 9 February 1999 the following question (Hansard reference C143:

 

Provide a copy of the survey on appointment waiti ng times report or the survey form?

 

The answer to the question is:

 

A report on surveyed waiting times is attached.

 

Attachment to hard copy:

NSS new claims waiting times - national summary

At 19 January 1999

[5p]

[Held in DPL’s Information Files]

 

 

 

LK