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Centrelink document reveals a system in crisis.



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JENNY MACKLIN MP

FEDERAL  MEMBER  FOR JAGAJAGA

Shadow Minister for Social Security, and the Aged

 

3 August 1998

 

 

CENTRELINK DOCUMENT REVEALS A

SYSTEM IN CRISIS

 

 

An internal Centrelink memo obtained by the Opposition reveals a system unable to cope wit h the distress of young people and their families who have had their benefits cut because of the Youth Allowance, Shadow Minister for Social Security, Jenny Macklin, said today.

 

‘The document advises Centrelink staff what ‘techniques’ to use to ‘diffuse the situation’ caused by the Youth Allowance such as,

 

* acknowledge that the information about the changes is distressing

* give them time to express anger

* offer to take down their concerns

* advise them of their right of appeals ( Do not refer to local MP but try and resolve customer’s issues within Centrelink‘s review, appeals and feedback mechanisms )

 

‘This last statement contradicts Senator Newman’s comments on 25 March (in response to another leaked memo which advised staff not to refer complaints to MPs) that such claims were, ‘absolute rubbish’, and ‘a beat-up’.

 

‘This latest leak is an admission by the Government of the levels of distress that the Youth Allowance is causing and reveals its own efforts to sweep that distress under the carpet,’ Ms Macklin said.

 

‘But already many people have approached my office and many other MPs’ offices to complain about the Youth Allowance.

 

‘The administration of the scheme is in total chaos. Many young people and their parents have had their benefits cut with no explanation; contact with Centrelink has become almost impossible with delays over the phone of days not unusual, files cannot be found, and wrong advice is given.

 

‘It is clear that Centrelink simply cannot cope despite the best efforts of its staff’, Ms Macklin said.

 

The Howard Government must act quickly to implement a rescue plan for the organisation.

 

*For a complete copy of the document contact Leith Greenslade on 02 6277 2037

 

Further information:

Jenny Macklin 02 6277 2035 

Leith Greenslade 02 6277 2037

 

Allowance - ask them what they heard about it.

 

* Ascertain customer’s specific situation - have they:

 

* Provided a data collection form and have received a letter advising of changes ie. Rate reduction or cancellation.

* Been contacted by the Spe cialist YA Team or Call Centre advising of changes to their payment ie rate reduction/cancellation, Dependent Spouse Allowee and want to discuss this in more detail.

* Had their payments cancelled due to not returning their data collection form; or

* are they a parent enquiring about child/ren’s record. (Need to check that parents have permission to enquire. Check DOC on system)

 

* After assessing customers situation and checking that they are affected by the transition to Youth Allowance, use the attache d questions and answers, help guides to assist you in answering general enquiries and discussing options.

 

What if the customer if distressed or angry?

 

Where a customer/parent is distressed/angry about the changes please use the following techniques to diffuse the situation:

 

* acknowledge that the information about the changes to their payments is distressing

* give them time to express anger

* offer the options listed in the question - Where do I go from here?

* offer to take down their concerns and advi se we are collecting customer responses to provide feedback to DSS.

* advise them of their right of appeals (Do not refer to local MP but try and resolve customer’s issues within Centrelink’s review, appeals and feedback mechanisms).

 

 

 

PACKAGE FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTRES: CUSTOMERS WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE TRANSITION TO YA

 

 

 

LK