Tue, 13 Feb 2024 - 21:06

The Australian - Number of people abandoning Services Australia centres surges

Thousands of Australians are walking out of Services Australia centres without being seen, as the rate of people abandoning their visits surges by more than 200 per cent in some regions.

According to figures provided to Questions on Notice from last year’s Senate estimates, the number of people who abandoned their visit to a service centre in the Sydney metropolitan area went from nearly 7,770 in the 2021-22 financial year to more than 22,000 in the 2022-23 financial year.

In south east Victoria, nearly 14,000 abandoned their visit in 2022-23, compared to less than 5,000 in 2021-22.

Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said people were leaving centres for “various reasons” and that the organisation didn’t capture the reason why they were leaving.

“It’s worth noting, during 2021/22, many of our service centres had controlled entry and customer limits due to state and territory health orders,” he said.

“Due to these requirements, customers may have been less likely to leave a service centre while waiting to see a staff member.

“We support over 10 million face-to-face customer interactions each year and over 73 per cent of customers in service centres were served within 15 minutes in 2022-23.”

Opposition Government Services Spokesman Paul Fletcher said he was concerned over the high numbers of people abandoning Services Australia during a cost of living crisis.

“Australians deserve better and Bill Shorten needs to conduct a root and branch review of his agency’s operations and get to the bottom of this mess,” he said.

In Parramatta, the number of people who left a Services Australia centre increased from 337 to 1036 between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years, while in Epping the number increased from 122 to 1292 over the same time period.