Centrelink’s duty of care

9 Mar 2016

Centrelink continues to remain the most complained about government agency in the country

Centrelink continues to remain the most complained about government agency in the country

The Department of Human Services has a charter to help and support seniors through the provision of programs and various services, benefits and payments which includes providing ‘Duty of Care’.

COTA NT is often approached to advocate for our seniors who have experienced high anxiety levels coupled with genuine and justifiable frustration in their interactions with those less experienced frontline staff at Centrelink. Complaints by seniors visiting Centrelink highlight their extreme level of dissatisfaction with those staff who provide different answers (and sometimes no answers) with no satisfactory or genuine attempt to provide an outcome.

The largest number of complaints about Centrelink is from people on Newstart Allowance, Disability Support Pension and the Age Pension. This raises the question, is duty of care being given to our seniors, the very elderly and those most vulnerable people in our community?

Centrelink continues to be plagued by its own bad processes forcing it to overturn more than a third of its own decisions, because staff continually get facts and legal advice wrong.

While the Department of Human Services (DHS) attempts to justify and or provide reasons to the Australian government for the inordinate delays and the ineffectiveness of many of its services and resources, nothing seems to change. Each year Centrelink continues to remain the most complained about government agency in the country.

And it’s not just seniors who complain. Thousands of students are still waiting for their Youth Allowance – some after more than six weeks. For DHS to explain these delays away because it’s an “extremely busy time of the year” suggests better management practices must be put in place to ensure adequate resources are made available to address what are predictably busy periods.

The Australian government’s scrutiny and governance of this ongoing debacle is at best ineffective as it seems limited to calling in the Department of Human Services to hear advice and words that simply do not provide any genuine solutions.

Duty of Care to our seniors, the very elderly and the most vulnerable must be one of Centrelink’s highest priorities in the provision of its services.



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