Since Labor took power, there has been a considerable increase in wait times for claims to be processed by Centrelink. Since then, 27 out of 32 different categories of payments, including jobseeker, have seen a major increase in the amount of time required for processing.
On Wednesday, the media reported a similar trend in call wait times. According to the statistics that was submitted in Senate estimates, only 23% of calls to Centrelink were answered in July and August, compared with 35% over the course of the entire fiscal year 2022-2023.
On Thursday, new records were presented to the Senate estimates committee that revealed the majority of payment processing times had fallen below their new “timeliness standard.” These “timeliness standard” standards were set by Services Australia and its partner agencies.
The jobseeker payment, which is supposed to have a “timeliness standard” of 16 days, hit an average processing time of 29 days in August. This is an increase from the nine days it took to process the payment during the 2021-22 fiscal year and the 11 days it took during the 2022-23 fiscal year.
It is supposed to take 49 days to complete a claim for the age pension, but the average payout took 61 days in August. This is a significant increase from the 33 days it took in 2022-2023 and the 35 days it took in 2021-2022.
The processing time for the parenting payment, which is supposed to be 21 days, came in at an average of 16 days in the fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23, but it had ballooned to 45 days in August.
The additional childcare subsidy transition to work payment was taking the greatest time to complete in August, clocking in at 98 days. This is an increase from the 39 days it took on average in 2022-23 and the 45 days it took the previous year.
Only five of the 32 different types of payments managed by Services Australia and for which data is available witnessed a reduction in the amount of time it took to process payments after Labor took over government duties from the Coalition.
According to statistics that was provided to Australia in September, 118,255 (32.5%) of claims were older than eight weeks, and 16,399 (4.5%) of claims were older than four months.
According to Hank Jongen, the general manager of Services Australia, the department processes millions of claims each year while working as swiftly as is humanly possible.
During the fiscal year 2022-2023, Centrelink processed a total of 3.6 million claims for Centrelink, with an average wait period of 27 days during the month of September.
“We apologise to anyone who is waiting longer than they should be, and we remind our customers to let us know if they are in hardship to help us prioritise claims from those who are most in need,” Jongen added. “We apologize to anyone who is waiting longer than they should be.”
“Our workforce has reverted to more regular levels now that the work linked with the epidemic era, as well as the additional workers, has been completed. We are making every effort to satisfy the requirements with the resources at our disposal.
Senator Janet Rice, who is the spokesman for the Green Party on issues pertaining to social services, stated that “Services Australia under the Labor administration is failing individuals on Centrelink.
“When I questioned officials from Services Australia in estimates this week about why the customer call wait times were so high, they indicated that one of the reasons was because they had redeployed people away from calls to process claims more rapidly. However, these numbers reveal that they are not improving claim processing times either. In point of fact, the situation is getting even more dire everywhere.
“It is very evident that Services Australia is suffering from a severe lack of resources. Labor needs to make room in their budget for additional people and make significant improvements to this system, which is intended to provide dependable social services to Australians.
We were hoping to get some remark from Bill Shorten, who is the minister for government services.
“Imagine you’re going through some life-altering stress, and you haven’t received any updates about the payment you need to survive,” she said. “Now, imagine that you haven’t received any updates about the payment you need to survive.” “You attempt to contact and find out but the phone call is disconnected before it can be completed. And this continues for a considerable amount of time.
“The Labor government needs to put an end to payment suspensions, free up their workers, and prioritize shortening wait times for applications and phone calls. Those who rely on government assistance for their income are being made to suffer the burden of the system’s decline.