Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

Media release: Improving customer service at Centrelink

8 August 2018

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

The Turnbull Government is delivering on its commitment to improve customer service at Centrelink, with the announcement today of an additional 1,500 staff to complement the Department of Human Services’ workforce.

These staff are on top of 1,000 staff announced in April to assist the Department to deal with surges in demand and to ensure our service standards continue to meet community expectations and the 250 additional call centre operators who were engaged late last year through a pilot program with Serco.

The Serco pilot demonstrated that working with a service delivery partner is an efficient and effective way to flexibly meet the needs of our customers.

Those staff have already answered more than 2 million calls and have helped reduce busy signals on Centrelink phone lines by almost 20 per cent.

The Department of Human Services recently signed contracts with four service delivery partners to provide us with the additional 1,000 staff to improve call wait times and enhance service delivery.

Under the new contracts, Serco will engage additional staff at their Victorian call centres and Stellar Asia Pacific, Concentrix Services and DataCom Connect will create jobs based in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Centrelink answers about 1 million calls a week and getting through on the phone can sometimes be difficult, especially at periods of high demand.

Our investment in these 2,750 staff will greatly enhance our ability to answer more calls and ensure that the service we deliver is in line with customer expectations.

This stands in stark contrast to the previous Labor Government’s repeated axeing of more than 4,800 staff from the Department of Human Services during their last three years in office.

Labor’s poor management also resulted in call wait times exploding from about 90 seconds under the Howard Government to more than 12.5 minutes.

The Turnbull Government has been working to clean up Labor’s mess ever since.

The use of service delivery partners is not new. The former Labor Government introduced this model at the Australian Taxation Office in 2008 where it has proved highly effective.

We are committed to delivering the best possible services to the Australian people, and today’s announcement will ensure more Australians have access to the services they need, where and when they need them. 

Page last updated: 8 August 2018