Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023

Statements by Senators


1:34 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

On 11 August, Services Australia announced they would be closing the South Melbourne Centrelink office, with no plans to open a new office anywhere in the local area. The timing of this closure is a real slap in the face. It's scheduled for 27 October, which is the second-last day of Anti-Poverty Week.

People who are on Centrelink payments are those most impacted by poverty in this country. In the local area, there are over 56,000 people relying on income support payments, and, in a cost-of-living crisis, access to services like these is absolutely essential.

This closure is going to have a major impact on so many residents in South Melbourne and surrounding areas. By closing this office, Services Australia is making it harder for constituents to access the support they need. The suggestion that people could travel many kilometres to Windsor or simply use digital services shows a lack of understanding of the needs and the capabilities of the people who use this service.

At the end of September, Minister Shorten and local member Josh Burns said that they would try and find a new Centrelink location in the area, yet the community has not received any updates about this. To the member for Macnamara: you have 10 days to avert this crisis. What is your plan? The people who elected you are being punished by your government for simply accessing the support they need.

We've had numerous concerned locals contact us or speak to community groups, expressing huge concern about this. Many rely on this Centrelink office to access their essential services. We call on Minister Shorten and the member for Macnamara for a confirmed alternative location and a clear course of action to ensure that people have access to the social services that they so desperately need.