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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Showcasing Govt Services

Minister for Community Services Larry Anthony today showcased a series of Centrelink projects aimed at achieving state-of-the-art service delivery by improving access and accuracy for its 6.4 million customers.

“The Government is working to ensure every aspect of Centrelink’s operation achieves the high quality standards expected by its customers,” said Mr Anthony.

“These projects coincide with research showing customer satisfaction with Centrelink’s service has reached a record high – the latest national survey, conducted in November/December, revealing a 76 percent overall satisfaction rating.”

Mr Anthony said projects underway or planned to improve Centrelink’s service include:

“Getting it Right” – a national campaign for every Centrelink employee aimed at streamlining work practices and developing minimum standards.

The “Edge” project – an “expert” support system to guide staff through rules and legislation as they enter customer information to determine their entitlement to payments and services.

Centrelink Education Network (CEN) – a satellite-based network that provides training and information to staff.

Internet site – The site is designed to give Centrelink customers the opportunity to match their circumstances to relevant Centrelink information, payments and services.

Accessing Centrelink – a project that will eventually let customers use technology to reduce the number of forms and visits to Government offices.

“Centrelink listens to its customers and takes action, and we are starting to see the results of that,” Mr Anthony said.

“These projects will result in better access to services, quicker access to advice and a flexible, no-nonsense, approach to dealing with customers.”

Centrelink has more than 1,000 offices and employs more than 22,000 staff who administer payments of about $43.5 billion for 13 government agencies, and sends more than 100 million letters and answers 22.5 million phone calls per year.

Getting it Right

Getting it Right is a national campaign developed for every employee of Centrelink, focussed on providing a superior level of service for customers and clients. It is seen as playing a large role in the future business practices of the organisation, taking our customer service standards to the next level.By streamlining work practices and developing several minimum standards for staff to follow, Getting it Right will allow more time for staff to be with customers and more time for staff training. It includes an online reference suite, in an easy to use format, which has everything a staff member needs to help them Get it Right.

The “Edge” Project

This decision-support system will guide staff through policy rules and legislation to determine entitlement to payments and services as they enter customer information. The system “maps” the thought process of a ‘human expert’, giving staff ready access to this expertise and ensuring accurate and consistent decisions and processes. Benefits include improved customer awareness of available benefits and consequences of change in circumstances. The application is being developed for Family Assistance Office related payments, with a comprehensive pilot scheduled for mid 2001.

Accessing Centrelink

This computer-based tool will record individual details and then present the likely components of available Centrelink service and payments for that customer. It also will advise all the steps required to access the services including booking interviews and what documents are required. It will provide customers with comprehensive written details about what has been discussed with Centrelink and produce a personalised claim that is much shorter than the current forms.The tool is expected to be progressively rolled out for use by customer groups from the second half of this year.

CEN (Centrelink Education Network)

The Centrelink Education Network is an interactive distance learning environment _ a virtual classroom. The Education Network fully integrates video, voice and data to deliver live, real-time training and education. It is the largest interactive distance learning network of its kind in Australia. Interactivity is provided through a remote feedback facility. Response keypads provide participants in remote classrooms with individual links to the program presenter. The facility allows staff to have adequate and more immediate access to training.

Internet site

In November, a new website was launched that signals to the public a new way of doing business with Centrelink. Particular attention has been paid to ensuring the site is useful to all types of Centrelink customers, including individuals, community groups, client departments and businesses. The site has been structured around personal circumstances. This approach provides another option for Centrelink customers, giving them the opportunity to match changing life circumstances to relevant Centrelink information, payments and services.

Centrelink Call

Centrelink runs the largest single-purpose call centre operation in Australia. It handled more than 22 million calls in 1999-2000 and currently has 3600 staff in 28 locations. Calls are routed to assist customers to reach the first available operator, with centres linked to form one “virtual” call centre. The centres also provide specialised services for Indigenous and non-English speaking customers.

Rural Services

Centrelink is about to move to the second phase of its Rural Strategy which will include upgrading agent/access points in regional and rural areas. It also has distributed a Rural CD-Rom which is a support tool for agents to assist with payment claims and inquiries in rural and remote areas.