Families and providers unable to access Centrelink website for childcare subsidy

Wednesday, 04 July 2018

THE HON AMANDA RISHWORTH MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL
MEMBER FOR KINGSTON

 

THE HON LINDA BURNEY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE
MEMBER FOR BARTON

 

Families have been left high and dry by the Turnbull Government with thousands unable to access Centrelink online to switch over to the new child care system.

Child care providers and families are still waiting for the applications to be processed, weeks after submitting the paperwork to Centrelink.

Once again, families have been let down by the Turnbull Government who have botched the transition for thousands of families and providers making the switch to the new child care system.

The Centrelink website was shut down over the weekend for “scheduled maintenance” but users have complained they are still unable to access it.

The Turnbull Government must explain why a maintenance shutdown was scheduled for the weekend on which its new child care system was to begin.

The Minister also needs to guarantee these families and providers will not be left out of pocket because of this latest bungle.

This just highlights the clumsiness of the Turnbull Government.

Over the past year, the Government has attempted to shift more people to managing their Centrelink matters online, and away from Centrelink’s phone and in-person services.

Average call wait times to Centrelink on the families phone line have increased from 16 minutes to 21 minutes.

These are just the averages. The reality is, we’ve heard stories of people waiting hours just to speak to someone at Centrelink.

And those attending Centrelink in-person are also enduring longer wait times.

The average wait time in service centres have increased from 12 minutes and 4 seconds last year, to 13 minutes and 47 seconds.

And even then, people who attend in person are directed to the phones where they are again forced to endure lengthy phone wait times, or they are directed online.

Many are finding Centrelink’s online platform difficult to navigate, and there have been numerous occasions where the Centrelink website has been down.

It’s a vicious cycle of vulnerable Australians being forced to the edge of their bank accounts while they wait for, or simply not receive their payments at all.

Labor welcomes the transition of services online, so long as it remains accessible and reliable.

And it shouldn’t mean that we neglect in-person and phone services.

On the weekend, the Government said it would begin a new system in which Centrelink clients will be identified based on biometric information, including facial recognition.

Experts have warned of the high risks of personal information being used. How can we trust the Government to roll out such a complex system when it can’t even ensure consistent and reliable access to the Centrelink website?

The Turnbull Government has demonstrated time and again that it is only interested in making claiming income support so difficult in the hope people just give up.

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