Contributed by Ben Wilson
No matter how much evidence piles up to show that Centrelink is mistreating those who go to is for help, change does not come.
Now it comes to light that for the first 10 months of this financial year 42 million calls had received an engaged signal. This is up from 29 million in the previous year and 223 million in the year before that. Instead of getting better, it is getting worse. The information was released to a Senate estimates hearing.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewart suggested that the Centrelink system is “broken”. This is an understatement.
The astronomical number of calls going unanswered, is a very good indicator that this is no accident. If there was a will to bring about change, there has been plenty of time to reverse the direction. This is policy and no excuse will get away from this. The Turnbull government is hell bent on reducing the numbers and they don’t care who they hurt along the way.
People ring up Centrelink to get access, receive information and report their circumstances. Failure to get through means barriers against applying for payments, and for those on payments, the prospect of being breached and denied payment is real.
The failure of the system means that some Australians end up going without food, risk homelessness and may even suffer physical and mental health issues. By any definition this is abuse. It is known that some have felt their situation so hopeless that they have taken their own lives. Children are also being affected. The architects of this shameful policy deserve to be held to account for what they have done.
A society that does this to its own citizens shows that it has still has a long way to go to discover its humanity. A government that presides over this reveals its moral bankruptcy.
To make matters worse, the government is now going to hire 250 contract staff to help manage the calls. At best these are likely to lack adequate training to deal with complex issues and insufficient to make but a small dent in the problem and it is no more than a cosmetic exercise to cover a bad public image.
There is also the fear that there will be shift towards tendering this work out to private companies on a commission basis, along the lines of new government and therefore department policy. Commissions are already being paid to debt collector companies.
Has it never occured to you that the advent of the mobile phone has simply caused the system to be overloaded. There is something wrong with society if so many people are on Centrelink related programs.
Its obviously a strategy of this govt to deter anyone seeking benefits, unless they can be used to skim money off of like with the “healthy” Welfare card which they are using the new dug tests to funnel people onto and which they hope to make universal like Food Stamps in the US which makes the banks billions from their govt. This Indue card is a liberal rort system, they get $10,000 for each victim and millions in tenders go to Lib owned companies. Or free labor with Work for the Dole. If they really wanted to answer calls they would have a call-back option. Or their failed RoboDebt campaign which propbably costs more than they actually recover as only 1/3 of debts are actual, do we know how much they are spending for mates companies to gain from this? Talk about CORPORATE WELFARE ripping off the poor. And if you complain your private details are outed. Too many policies have this direct result for it to be a mistake, this is deliberate.