Does this prove Centrelink needs an overhaul?

The way Centrelink operates is interesting to say the least. The system is more often unsuccessful than successful; you go

The way Centrelink operates is interesting to say the least. The system is more often unsuccessful than successful; you go in roundabouts between the person at the end of the phone (after a 60 minute wait) and the self-service facilities online. When you get told to come into your centre you have to book an appointment and the next available appointment is during work hours in six weeks!

Any customer or user of Centrelink services can see that there’s some serious problems in the way it all works, but could this perhaps be the most blatant example of just how poorly things are managed?

According to the Daily Mail, a 70-year-old grandmother from Townsville has cheated the Centrelink system for 20 years by claiming her dead mothers’ pension! The system has paid her $254,440 in payments as she took them in her mothers’ name – on top of her own pension.

Yes, this woman was rorting the system and has taken valuable dollars that could have funded someone else’s pension. However, the real problem lies in the fact that Centrelink does not currently have the systems or management in place to actually monitor and control their own payments – is there no balance book at the end of each month?

We live in a day where our government is skimping and saving on whatever they can. The last two budgets have seen numerous cuts to fund the things that really need it, but is enough being done to actually tighten government spending within government organisations?

Social welfare is one of the highest expenses for the government, in fact last year it was the highest spend for every tax payer dollar. So could this amount be reduced if Centrelink had some kind of audit and actually refined and logically ordered their processes?

Tell us today, have you used Centrelink and found it difficult? Have you had problems with them before? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

  1. The whole idea is to make the system so troublesome that …if they are lucky you won’t bother applying.

    • Never ever found that, I had parents on Aged pension, Husband on Disability pension then aged , PART, Then myself on carer then aged , son on Disability . I have never ever had a problem, this goes back over 20 years . Now You can go in to our local office & hardly any waiting time at all, I have found the system has improved greatly,

      • Robb Gee  

        The thing is Dawn, you know how to work the system. Us newbies find it an inefficient, lying, stupid contortion of rules and regulations aimed primarily at keeping public servants in work and the “client” (us) frustrated to the point of apoplexy. Case in point, wife and I applied for aged pension and after two months of silence we were granted one adjusted for unrealisticly high interest rates on small savings. At the end of my tether and our fast dwindling savings I found another job before the advice. Knowing the rules I tried to report my income from day one. No person in the Centrelink office wanted to know, I had to do it online. Where?!? There is no place to report earnings past the current fortnight on line. Eventually after many attempted phone calls I found someone who could set up fortnightly reporting for me but it wasn’t his job to deal with historical data. Phone calls, letters and emails drew no response. Then one day our pension was cut off for not responding to (non existent) correspondence. We found someone to talk to. They took the details and we have waited 2 months for information on how much to repay and how to repay. Merry Christmas! We get a bill for just on $5,500 on 22/12/15 with a due date of 19/1/16. The Centrelink/myGov website is incomplete. The centrelink app doesn’t work and their phones are on auto cut off after 15 minutes. I have run businesses in the past and if I was responsible for this fiasco there would be mass sacking and supervisors would have new ones ripped on a regular basis until the system worked as an efficient cost effective public service. The thing is there are probably billions of dollars wasted in that hellhole that I provides a cushy living for the (non) public servants and their masters.

        • May  

          Robb you do not have to pay it all of straight away work out a payment plan.
          My daughter who is on disability a few years ago now did everything right we phonened and declared when she earn’t money. Then all of a sudden she had a bill for $900 which she could not pay in full so payed it off. Then something happened to us and it was not our fault and we got a bill so we paid that off at $50 a month. None of these problems were done dishonestly by us for the record.

  2. Maszki  

    To defraud anyone, there needs to be two element. Someone prepared to defraud and a second person/organization so lax I its accounting processes as to be open to be defrauded
    In this case, I assume that there would have been a death certificate, doesn’t Centrelink have access th death certificates? I know they get regular updates as to what I may or may not have in my bank account so I find it inconceivable that they are not also linked to births deaths and marriage registries… Or is Centrelink simply incompetent?

  3. I am on a part aged pension. My dealing with Centrelink on line and in person have been very positive save the usual teething problems I had getting used to it. As far as personal contact is concerned I have found the officers at the Wynnum Branch, Queensland, very good. I report through myGov fort nightly from all points am have found it easy. One needs to
    The guidelines. The other issue is it is an Australian ‘sport’ to bag Centrelink. They are people too implementing whatever the most recent Federal Government policy is (and not necessarily the current one). As for rooters the system is not the problem, it is the honesty of user!

    • We are new to the system too John and have to report fortnightly when I do some work, we have also had wonderful service and the staff, all except one little hiccup, have been so nice and helpful. And we have to deal between Centrelink and the overseas services. I agree that we are often quite quick to get on board with bagging them – I did before I was involved in the system… I take it back Centrelink!

    • I also have to report fortnightly via MyGov and have also found things ok. Just recently had a hiccup with assets assessment but staff on the phone were very helpful. No complaints from me!!

  4. I am going to stick my neck out here and say, I have found Centerlink both helpful and respectful. The staff are curteous and deal with all kinds of people with patience, if we consider they do this all day every day, in my mind they are fantastic.They do the best they can with what they have to work with.
    I am also greatful that my pension comes to me every fortnight. Not everyone in the world has it so good.

    • I agree & I get so angry when we hear of the ingrates who selfishly rort the system, knowing that there will be no chance that they will be able to pay back the stolen money.

    • I totally agree with Philomena. . Always found centrelink staff fantastic , never had one minutes trouble. We are priviledged to be paid a pension in our older age. We live in a fantastic country

    • Staff are fine….just need more……the most frustrating thing is to walk into one of these ‘job’ agencies and see people sitting around & talking to each other and ignore you for at least 10>15 minutes….all part of the plan..and then treat everyone the same…25 years old job seeker the same as a 63 year old part time/vollenteer seeker??? have been involved with 4 different agencies….they change them all the time….and never has one even pointed me in the way of a job???

    • The employees at centrelink have to deal with some of the worst kind of people. They do their best and try and be very helpful. I can remember an incident at one office when a guy got angry and picked up a chair and threw it at an employee. Who in their right mind would want to work at a place like that.

    • They are very helpful when you can get to see someone but now they want u to do it all in the computer it is a problem when you can’t find it

    • Yes the staff they have are good. The problem is they are understaffed and the offices only deal with the unemployed.

    • I was an aneasthetic nurse for 15yrs before that worked for DOCS woth people with disabilities then I got an injury where it left me unable to work anymore. This really affected me because I had woked hard all my life and then ťhen couldn’t do anything. When I went to centrelink the staff were very helpful and nice to me

    • But don’t we pay our taxes for just this reason?in the uk the also pay taxes to get a pension in later life.however, if you pay and pay and pay taxes and also save you have to be careful as if you are careful and save enough they say clear off…you get NO’ve been careful and saved enough.

    • Loretto O’Connor….that is often easier said than done, and no…am not one of those people. Am a pensioner.

    • Agreed.,Centrelink have always been helpful, courteous and respectful..those that aren’t are the one’s that are rorting the system, have never been taught any manners, and are of the ‘entitlement attitude’..their jobs are not easy..the one gripe that I do have is that some of their culturally blended staff need to have lessons in the English language..that’s all!

  5. This department has been so poorly managed for many years. This case, of the 70 year old grandmother, is only the tip of the iceberg. This department has had so many changes from computer systems, staff reductions and procedures that cannot keep up with them or have the processes tested before they can either test them first or train their remaining staff to understand what needs to be done. Their staff are making so many mistakes and they are completely over worked. The stress levels in that place are over the roof. In fact under the Workplace and Safety Act the department is in breach of various violations.
    I have experienced in the past where the staff have given me the wrong information, requested that I have to give them more details when they already have it and deny that the information is correct. It would be the most frustrating department to ever get involved with.
    How many of you have told to call them immediately, and sit on the phone pressing 1 then 2 then 3 and so on to be told that because of the over welming number of calls they will call you back. They don’t. Then you are told later on when you call them back that your payments have been stopped because you did not call them in the beginning. And they wonder why you get frustrated.
    I know of a case where, recently, where a staff requested details of someone’s health records when they were told that the person had died. They then asked for the dead person to come in and present the details into their office with their death certificate so that they can have their records up to date. The dead persons son tried to explain again that their mother was dead and could not come in. He offered to come in himself but they insisted that mother has to come in herself. As she has to sign some papers as well.
    It is hard to believe but it did happen and it was not until the sons member of parliament intervened that the matter was cleared up.
    How many more stories are their out there like this. The government needs to listen to what frustrations they have caused because of all the changes.
    One if the directors was seen on TV a few years ago and even he was making mistakes.
    Yes this is the worst run department and it needs to be have more resources both staff and consistent procedures.

    • JAY  

      You are so correct Ian I agree worst run department
      Some can be really good and helpful but others do not know what they are doing especially with paperwork being sent in Obviously training is poor

  6. The problem with this particular case is that the Births Deaths and Marriages system was not electronically recorded at the time of the person’s death. It is now. This case was deliberate fraud as the death should have been advised and the various review forms must have been completed fraudulently.

  7. I have had nothing but courtesy, respect and helpfulness from Centrelink for my part age pension. My daughter is on a disability pension and also is treated in the same fashion. Are we just lucky with the office we deal with?

    • There are some good offices just the over populated areas are a disaster i beleive.

    • Meg I spent over a decade working for them and I know I always went out of my way to help people and do what I could to make the labyrinth of rules easier to navigate for customers. So did the people I worked with. I know there are bad eggs everywhere but I truly believe Centrelink staff do the best they can with the limited resources they have. Staff at the coal face care and do what they can to help … management are the problem and always have been.

      • Jean  

        I worked for Centrelink too and most of us tried very hard to meet the needs of our customers. Despite staff shortages; frequent changes to policy where often things were changed in the few short weeks between training and implementation; computer systems that either didn’t work, worked slowly or sometimes “did their own thing” and cancelled people because an obscure little box wasn’t ticked weeks before when the claims were granted; “specialisation” which led to some/newer staff knowing only a narrow bit of the very complex Social Security legislation and hence customers missing out on other entitlements; the frustration of office staff who can often “fix things” directed by “Canberra” to tell customers to use the phones knowing they won’t be answered for ages ; telling them to go online and knowing too that sometimes that worked brilliantly and sometimes it just didn’t cooperate at all; I could go on and on; at least in call centres they can shut phones off at closing time whereas in offices anyone in the door before closing is generally attended too. Sure, not all staff are great but the majority are doing their best with the time, resources, and systems given to them. Surely no-one can believe that we go to work thinking wow another day, I wonder how long I can make all these riff raff wait today and how many payments I can stuff up. Local bosses don’t aim to stuff up their staff’s day either. If everything worked as it should we would all, customers, staff and bosses be much much happier and proud of our work and workplace. Funding to the call centres and regional offices (hence staffing levels) are based on government whims and models that dictate needs based on best case scenario and systems working to full capacity. They take no account of the times everything goes pear shaped.

  8. Yes does need overhaul…and obviously more checks ..physically ..on people …go to thete house .check things out ..I think they’d be surprised whos taking money illegally

    • yeah Cindy.get a team of heavies….even put jackboots on them.send them in to invade peoples could even lead them.

  9. I’ve found the workers helpful and considerate. What I find annoying are the complicated forms, questions and hoops that have to jumped through. I’m not sure that everyone who needs Centrelink can understand or navigate the system.

    • Could not agree more. The process prevented me from retiring in 2002 after a serious heart operation – largely as a result of the convoluted paperwork and “stupid” rules. I could not get a pension then because I was sharing a house with someone who was earning a good salary even though our finances were completely separated. I had to wait until I was living alone in another state and retired again eleven years later before I could even apply.

  10. Look after the needy people and weed out the greedy people. Says this 72 year old pensioner that is still renting and only gets the basics.

  11. I think it operated better a few years ago,cutbacks are the trouble.

    • I think it was awful a few years ago, seems to have improved to me. Best its been in 20 years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *