Centrelink phone wait times ‘worse than ever’ amid workforce dispute

A major strike at Centrelink has left people fuming at the “broken” and “degrading” system as some report being placed on hold for over an hour – some left waiting for three months over payment claim advice.
Data released by the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) has revealed on average people were being left on hold by Centrelink for 106 minutes this week alone.
Only 19 out of 119 attempts to reach an operator were successful.
The results come from a live tracker that has logged over a hundred users over the past two days following a 24-hour strike held by Services Australia staff on Monday.
One Indigenous user claimed on Wednesday they had not received any AbStudy financial assistance despite having their claim processed in August. Another alleged they were forced to walk into a physical Centrelink building after having hip surgery due to being hung up on by the agency’s phone line.
“I’m so sick of having to call in because the online service is a humiliating, degrading, experience that I hate so much,” one user, called Jane, reported on Wednesday.
Another person said, “They obviously need more employees, the whole process is made deliberately difficult.” New union figures came after Services Australia staff walked off their jobs for 24-hours on Monday after rejecting a 11.2 per cent pay increase from the government.
Millions of welfare recipients were told work stoppages would have no impact on their payments.
AUWU officer Jeremy Poxon said since June daily complaints over blown out wait times and delayed payments have grown “progressively worse” due to a lack of urgency from the government to address workforce issues.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in a non-Covid period. We’re seeing neglect from both sides of government,” Mr Poxon said.
“We welcome changes to the [Services Australia] workforce, now they are locked into a dispute with the union and they’re able to avoid giving service and the attention that people need.
“It’s a broken system.”
Services Australia and Government Services Minister Bill Shorten’s office has been contacted for comment.

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