Thu, 13 Jun 2024 - 09:40

Courier Mail - Help will be very long wait on hold

More than 600,000 calls made to Centrelink over a four-month period this year were not answered for more than an hour, new documents show. 

Call wait times across a range of categories have continued to worsen in 2024 compared to 2023 according to new figures tabled to parliament. 

A total of 600,906 calls made between January 1 and May 1 this year had a wait time of more than 60 minutes. 

The figure represented almost 20 per cent of all calls about social security and w e l f a r e made to the agency in the four-month period. 

The average wait time for calls also deteriorated with disability, sickness and carer related calls taking 28 minutes in March 2023 com[1]pared to 47 minutes this year. 

Families and parents were held up for almost 52 minutes – a 20 minute increase in wait time in 12 months 

Older Australians were left waiting 47 minutes for their calls compared to 28 minutes last year. 

Opposition government services spokesman Paul Fletcher said the delays were unacceptable. 

“Call wait times continue to skyrocket during the cost-of-living crisis and struggling families are paying the price,” Mr Fletcher said. 

“Government Services Minister Bill Shorten is hopeless and these figures expose his failures. 

“Australians deserve a minister committed to improving the customer experience. 

“I repeat my calls for there to be a root and branch of Services Australia’s operations to improve this crucial agency’s performance.” 

The Albanese Government has repeatedly defended its record on Services Australia by saying the agency was given additional resources during the pandemic that it no longer had in 2022 and 2023. 

But the data has revealed the agency’s performance has continued to decline in 2024.

Author: Angira Bharadwaj

This article appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 13 June 2024