Taking the ‘human’ out of human services

In response to the Federal Government’s announcement today that it will add 1000 additional outside call centre operators to take Centrelink calls, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We have seen thousands of jobs cut from Centrelink over several years and now this Federal Government is contracting private companies, including Serco to answer calls. It is wrong that a private, multinational corporation is being contracted, and presumably profit from doing the job of Centrelink.

“People trying to claim a payment or update their details must often disclose personal and sensitive information, like escaping domestic violence or serious health issues. They will now need to disclose this information to a private corporation.

“We are concerned by reports from dedicated Centrelink workers to the union that the Serco call centre is being used merely to improve the damning stats on wait times and missed calls to Centrelink rather than actually helping to resolve people’s situation. People, and not profit or appearances, must be the government’s focus in resolving the wait times mess.

“This really is taking the human out of human services.

“You can’t run down an vital community service like Centrelink and then use the appalling service standards you’ve created to justify privatising it by stealth.

“Rather than outsource essential government services, this government should be ensuring that Centrelink is properly staffed to meet the needs of people accessing income support.”