Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Department of Human Services: Staffing
That the Senate—
(a) notes that the Turnbull Government cut nearly 1200 jobs from the Department of Human Services in the 2017-18 Budget;
(b) acknowledges that 42 million calls to Centrelink hit a busy signal between 1 July 2016 and 30 April 2017;
(c) notes that the Government is engaging private contractor Serco to supply 250 call centre workers to answer Centrelink calls from income support recipients;
(d) condemns allowing a private contractor to run a critical Government service involving access to the personal information of Centrelink clients; and
(e) calls on the Government to reinstate the jobs cut from the Department of Human Services, and act on the recommendations of the report of the Community Affairs References Committee, Design, scope, cost-benefit analysis, contracts awarded and implementation associated with the Better Management of the Social Welfare System initiative, as soon as possible.
The coalition government is investing $52 million to make it easier for Australians to access Centrelink. This introduces 250 new Australian jobs to help reduce call wait times, on top of existing staff numbers. This is part of the unprecedented investment this government is making in the Department of Human Services, such as the $1 billion spent on IT annually. Serco staff will be fully trained and required to comply with all government privacy and security standards. Average staffing level reductions in the budget papers reflect adjustments, including support required in past years for emergencies such as Cyclone Debbie, and support for the National Disability Insurance Agency.