House debates

Monday, 20 August 2018

Statements by Members


4:28 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to share a story which demonstrates the truly petty and mean nature of this government. A constituent, who I will call Mr J, rang me last week. He explained that when he lost his mother two years ago he had been able to phone a dedicated Centrelink bereavement line, where a person quickly answered and was able to help to register his mother's death. Sadly, Mr J found himself in need of this service again when his father passed last week. But his experience last week couldn't have been more different from the previous one. Mr J soon found out that the bereavement line had gone. Instead, he was asked to call a generic Centrelink number where he got caught in a maddening loop of menus. He ended up in the wrong area and was told there was a 45-minute wait. Frustrated, he downloaded a form to register his father's death. As directed, he printed it and took it to his local Centrelink office where he was told they couldn't help him. They gave him a stamp and sent him on his way. This is no way to treat people facing the grief and trauma of losing a loved one. What kind of small-minded government can't even keep a phone line open for bereaved Australians? I've written to the minister demanding an explanation. (Time expired)