NO CONSULTATION - NO NOTICE - NO WARRAWONG CENTRELINK

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have slammed the Government’s decision to close the Centrelink and Medicare Offices at Warrawong. The decision to close the office has been made without consultation with the local community and is a slap in the face to local residents who campaigned for years to get a Medicare office located in the area.

Residents from Berkeley, Lake Heights and Warrawong will be incensed to learn that they will now be told to travel to Wollongong or Shellharbour to access a Centrelink office. The areas are poorly served by public transport and have high need communities.

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones will meet with local residents today to discuss the Turnbull Government proposal which would come into effect in 6-8 weeks’ time.  This sneaky decision has obviously been in the planning for a long time and is now being dropped on the community before a Federal election.

Many local Centrelink clients have complained about their difficulties in contacting Centrelink.  Centrelink call wait times have blown out for older Australians, students, families and parents. Closing more Centrelink offices will make access even harder.

Already, older people are waiting, on average, two months just to have their age pensions approved which causes great distress to many people and families.

In this year’s Budget the Turnbull Government cut 1,280 staff from the Department of Human Services.  Last year, the Turnbull Government cut 1,180 staff and call wait times and busy signals skyrocketed.

Just like their attack on Medicare, Malcolm Turnbull’s strategy is to dismantle Centrelink piece by piece – closing offices and cutting staff.

The need for service centres is high in Warrawong. As an example, the New South Wales Government’s Service NSW centre at Warrawong is the most visited in the Illawarra.  Between November 2016 and November 2017 over 130,000 customers were served there – compared to 65,300 in Wollongong over the same period.

Closing the Warrawong office doesn’t make sense.  Malcolm Turnbull is just hoping to make it so difficult for local people that they just give up.  This is not fair and further demonstrates that he is out of touch with ordinary Australians.

 

CALL WAIT TIME INCREASES

Payment type

2016-17

2017-18 as at 31 March

Older Australians

18 minutes and 59 seconds

23 minutes and 1 second 

Students

31 minutes and 15 seconds

35 minutes and 0 seconds

Families

16 minutes and 19 seconds

21 minutes and 12 seconds

 

PROCESSING TIME INCREASES

Payment type

2016-17

2017-18 as at 31 March

Age pension

36 days

49 days

Carers payments

28 days

47 days