House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013

Distinguished Visitors

6:16 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (Robertson, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

While this debate has been going on, I have opened the very first page of a google search for what is going on with family and Department of Human Services. You see all these faces on this webpage looking out, and the titles of the things that are looked after by Department of Human Services are things that are substantive. I think this is the point that the parliamentary secretary has been making. The question that is asked at the top of the website is: 'How can we help you?' That is a question that we ask every single day.

The obsession with process that we have seen in the type of question we have received from those on the opposite side reveals that they see what happens in this place so much as a play thing for point scoring. The substantive nature of what the department does is extremely significant; it matters to families; to separated parents; to job seekers; to older Australians; to migrants; refugees; visitors; students and trainees; to people with disabilities; to people who are concerned with issues about their health and what care and assistance they can get from family services; for carers; and for people in rural and remote Australia.

I know that I share with the parliamentary secretary that sense of being in a regional area. For us, the Department of Human Services is no small thing. It is a critical part of enabling our community. The Department of Human Services organised the Peninsula Link Day, which was an incredible innovation about how we can get efficient connections going on between programs and across our community; that is part of what has been going on in my regional area.

People are interested in family tax and the benefits that they can receive. People are interested in getting the support they need when they are in crisis—and crisis management is delivered by Department of Human Services. People are interested in looking after their children and the important delivery of child support.

So for the parliamentary secretary I have two questions. Firstly, what is the government doing to improve its capacity to support the current and changing needs of these Australians that I have been speaking about? And what are they doing to ensure that it continues to support and deliver government programs efficiently and effectively And, if there is time, I would also like the parliamentary secretary to tell us what the government is doing to better meet call demand and improve the telephony systems—and not only the idea of the electronic medium and the new apps he has commented on this afternoon—because people still do make phone calls.


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