Coalition policies — increased role for Centrelink

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Coalition policies — increased role for Centrelink

Human Services Minister Marise Payne has warned Centrelink to be ready for the increased workload, as it implements the Coalition's agenda.

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Human Services Minister Marise Payne has warned Centrelink to be ready for the increased workloadm as it implements the Coalition's agenda.

In her first interview in her new role, Senator Payne promised to rejuvenate the public face — online and face-to-face — of Centrelink.

Paid parental leave etc

She said Centrelink had to deliver the new government's agenda: paid parental leave, the job commitment bonus and from next year benefits to temporary protection visa holders and compensation to victims of overseas terrorism.

'So there quite a few new things for the department to get on top of,' Senator Payne told The Australian.

She was determined to keep call-wait times and delays in processing payments to a minimum, and did not want a reduction of frontline services in Tony Abbott's drive to cut 12,000 jobs across the entire public service.

'These are obviously important issues for me, both phone waiting times and waiting time in the offices themselves,' she said.

'I know that they are very important to the secretary. She's made that very clear to me and made also very clear to me that they are ongoing challenges that they work on every single day.'

Staff reductions

She echoed the Prime Minister's claim staff reductions should be met by natural attrition, saying she preferred it could be met without job losses.

'This department has actually been quite good in its natural attrition approach to staff movements over the past couple of years. I've seen some of the figures on that and I would hope that we are able to maintain that, and to deliver more — that's something that's still part of discussions.'

The MyGov site had more than 1.7 million active users, increasing by about 30,000 a week.
 
'The online space is one which I'm really interested in getting to grips with very, very well and maximising my engagement in,' she said.

However, she vowed to protect human contact for those who have no access to the internet.
 
'Absolutely, there is absolutely no intention of forcing people who are unable to access services into the digital sphere,' she said.

The Department of Human Services has embarked upon a program to eliminate errors and clarify the language used in letters sent to clients.

'We are very much the face of the government and it doesn't matter at what level you're receiving any support or what level you are engaging. So I think it is extremely important that we present the most positive and efficient face that we can,' she said.
 
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