Call someone who cares? Centrelink fails to answer millions of calls 325



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You don’t have to be down on your luck and on welfare to need to ring Centrelink – pensioners, families and students all require the service but in a shocking new report, it’s been found that Human Services just doesn’t want to hear about it…literally.

Almost 25 per cent of the staggering 57 million phone calls made to Centrelink last year went unanswered. In literal terms, we have spent 143 years waiting to speak to Centrelink before hanging up, according to a new report commissioned by the Australian National Audit Office.

13.7 million calls did not even make it to the point of being put on hold, after they were blocked or received a “busy signal”, reports Fairfax.

And an additional 13 million calls that were put in the hold queue were “abandoned”, which means the callers got sick of waiting to talk to a human.

If you’ve been into Centrelink in the last few years, you’ll know that the staff much prefer you to go online or phone the head office, which is proving to be near impossible.

Waiting times are through the roof, with an average call in 2013-14 being found to take a whopping 17 minutes (and 30 per cent take more than 30 minutes) and auditors of the welfare agency blame a lack of staff and the performance of the systems in place.

Auditors of Centrelink want to know why the department doesn’t have a system like other government agencies such as the ATO who give an estimate of the hold time instead of what seems like a never ending loop of the ‘Ode to Joy’.

It’s Centrelink’s number one complaint from customers, so what are they doing about it? The Auditor-General’s office conceded that the department was making progress and knows there is a problem. They’re moving tens of millions of transactions each year online, but the cost of more people on the end of the line comes at a cost – and it’s not just our phone bill.

Human Services estimates that to hire 1,000 new public servants, the cost to taxpayers will be in the ballpark of $100 million.

The question is: Which would we prefer, time or money?


Have you been kept on hold for what seems like forever to Centrelink? What happened?

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  1. 90 min its discusting or when u get to there office 1 min late and there closed so they stop your payment get rid of them go back to the old way

  2. I think it must be the worst service in the world. I am actually driving in there there today as it is too hard on the phone. With any luck, I will only have to wait about an hour to see someone.

    18 REPLY
    • hope you have dinner sorted for tonight and take your lunch with you, as I once waited for 4 hours, was mad a hell, kept my cool and when the girl in a sweet voice asked how my day was I lost it. LOL

    • I went there once and waited about 10 minutes to be served. While you are all complaining have you been to the bank lately

    • They are doing their best with all the hundreds of calls they receive and customers to serve and sort out. Our Centre Link is very good.

    • How long ago did you go there Wendy Biden? Things have gone downhill in the last 18 months or so due to staff cuts

    • you went there “once ” Wendy Biden so your an expert, there are people who have to go or call every week, the service is deplorable, the staff do their best but the system is over loaded and under staffed

    • My son Spent 3 hours waiting this was the usual time frame. Never called him when they said they were going to they apparently send letters out still waiting for them weeks later. He constantly asked to be sent to a job centre. At one stage went every day wanting assistance to get a job told he had to wait there was a process. Information that should have been put into the computer time after time was not there. When he got frustrated and said I have given that information many times they got annoyed and curtly told him WELL it’s not on the system. After 5 months he never managed to get a payment or a job through them. The staff the system is a complete joke. People assume that people on centrelink don’t want to work they do just can not get assistance from the service that has been set up to help them .

      1 REPLY
      • no point in going to a job centre, they are absolutely no use. simply a scheme to keep those people in jobs themselves. My husband practically begged for help and all they could offer was the internet, or one day when their system was down, a week old newspaper. My husband was already doing that from home. Job centres these days are a complete waste.

    • Take a packed lunch and a thermos of coffee. Make sure you keep some for dinner too. Oh and take a book, because magazines dont last that long.

    • It’s faster on their internet app to get a message through,otherwise you could die of old age waiting. Voice mail is most annoying; I like to speak to a ‘person’ with a pulse.

    • Well I’m back. One hour and ten minutes before anyone saw me. I actually think that is quick for them!!!! lol

    • that’s fine if you a)have a car b) if not, live close enough to go there c) can wait when they tell you the line is 4 hrs long and they’ll be closed before it gets to you. We live about an hour away from our nearest offcie, made a trip all the way in with some paperwork we were told we HAD to take in person and when we got there they said we could have posted it ! And then they said but ow you have to wait and see someone – an hour later it took the girl all of 2 minutes to enter the info she needed. The system is f***d.

  3. I think every fortnight, in order to be paid, politicians should have to ring Centrelink to say they are still working. No special numbers, just use the same one as the rest of us. Bet it’s sorted in a day.

    13 REPLY
  4. I have waited on for up to 40 minutes on a couple of occasions. I know they are busy but surely this could be looked at.

  5. It is the lack of sufficient staff that is the problem. Even long waiting times when you ho to their offices. Government is to blame

    4 REPLY
  6. Living in remote communities and trying to call them can take well over an hour to get through. Can’t drive there as it is two and a half hours away if you have a vehicle. It is disgusting

    2 REPLY
  7. We have a centre here so you are there when they open and it happens quickly…. Very efficient. Hardly ever have to go but have found them helpful. Someone told me if you ever have to ring do it as soon as they are open.

    1 REPLY
  8. Centrelink have always been BUSY, since I went on Allowance 15 years ago, now thousands more on welfare . When I do get through I get a message leave phone number and we will call back. So far they have , later that day. I don’t think we could afford the salaries to employ enough staff to answer everyone when they ring. I don’t know the figures, but there were almost 900,000 on Disability Support Pensions last year. Add all the “”other “” types and allowances and that is the reason.

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