Hon Alan Tudge MP
The Hon Alan Tudge MP Minister for Human Services

A priority for the Government in this Budget is to guarantee the services that Australians rely on.

To support this guarantee, the Government’s Budget will provide 250 new Australian jobs to answer more phone calls into Centrelink. This will help reduce call wait times and improve the delivery of Centrelink’s services.

This means there will be an additional 250 Australian call centre operators answering phone enquiries about Centrelink payments and services in the coming year. They will focus on answering less complex enquiries to Centrelink. For example, this could include reporting requirements, helpdesk functions and enquiries regarding online services. They will not be answering calls regarding Medicare or Child Support.

Centrelink handles 22 million calls per annum, with the average wait time being approximately 15 minutes, but as is the case with all averages many people wait longer than this.

The additional call centre operators will help bring this wait time down and will be delivered through one of the existing accredited providers of telephone services to the Australian Government.

The Australian Taxation Office has been using a similar approach for the past decade. The Department of Human Services will now pilot this approach in line with rigorous privacy and security standards.

Reducing call wait times is not just about the number of operators available. We are also working hard to reduce the need for people to call in the first place. This includes significant investment in upgrading digital channels, particularly through the billion dollar investment in our welfare payments system (the WPIT program). Already, 130 million transactions are done online and this will continue to increase. Improvements to website capability and practical initiatives such as the introduction of digital claim trackers will also prevent the need for recipients to call.

The Government is committed to delivering on improved access and quality of service in Centrelink, and is investing at record levels to ensure this happens.

Source Department of Human Services