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Friday, 9 June 1989
Page: 3791


Senator BOLKUS —On Wednesday, 31 May, Senator Walters asked me a question. I seek leave to incorporate the answer in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows-

The Minister for Social Security has received a number of representations on this matter, including from the Member for Denison, Duncan Kerr, MP.

The Department of Social Security makes heavy use of computing facilities and continually monitors developments in available technology. In accordance with the Government's endeavours to promote efficiency improvement, a review is currently being undertaken of whether any changes should be made to its computing infrastructure.

The Department advises that the review is being conducted in two parts. The first is an investigation of technical options for computer centres, including the costs of each option associated with sites, hardware, software, maintenance etc. The second will assess the likely impact of each option on staffing and service quality and the participation of staff associations has been sought.

While the existing facilities in Tasmania have been examined as part of the whole, the review is still in its early stages (the first part is not complete) and it would not be appropriate to prejudge the options to be canvassed or the outcome which will involve management and Government responses. Any formal consultation with State Governments would depend on the results of the review and on these responses.

It is relevant to note, however, that in relatively recent times a major national social security function-the International Operations Branch-was re-located to Tasmania and is working effectively.

As with many other major ADP users, particularly in Government, DSS has experienced a rapid turnover of computer staff. The Department advises that turnover within computer centres tends to be of staff at the lower levels who do not wish to continue shift-work, and many others are attributed to normal promotions or transfers within the public service. However, it does regard rapid turnover as a problem and is taking steps to address this.

Staffing within the centres has recently been restructured to accommodate the progression to an online environment which will help the Department provide a higher level of service to social security recipients. This also should help reduce turnover since more attractive career paths are being established.

The available figures for staff turnover rates for each of the centres over 1987 and 1988 are:

TURNOVER OF STAFF

ASO

1-3

Total

Per cent

p.a.

1987-88 Financial Year

Sydney ...

16

23

25

Melbourne ...

19

30

33

Brisbane ...

11

16

20

Calendar years 1987 and 1988

Adelaide ...

5

6

4

Perth ...

8

15

11

Hobart ...

11

13

20

It is worth noting that only 3 have left from Hobart so far in 1989 and only 5 from Melbourne.