The Department of Human Services has advised the CPSU that approximately 2,000 permanent jobs will be created in order to improve services for customers and reduce pressure on staff.
The agency covering Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support said it expects the majority of new permanent positions will be filled by current casual staff, as the department seeks to reduce its use of non-going workers.
The department expects recruitment for the permanent jobs will be concluded in August, with the roles mostly to cover call centre and processing work in offices around the country.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “This is an enormously significant announcement that will give a much-needed boost to service standards for Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support customers whilst easing the intense pressure faced by DHS staff. We’re working closely with DHS to ensure these jobs are created quickly and fairly.
“This will provide around 2,000 people in communities around the country with quality, permanent employment and offer some desperately needed support to their colleagues struggling under impossible workloads and also dealing with increased customer agitation and aggression as a result.
“People employed casually by DHS already make a valuable contribution, but giving them permanent jobs will mean they receive the comprehensive training that is required to fully help customers through sensitive issues and often complex processes.”
“The department deserves congratulations for taking this first step to turn around what has been an unacceptable slide in service standards, as we’ve seen with the 42 million calls blocked with a busy signal just in the first 10 months of this financial year and with the tens of thousands of people unfairly caught up in robo-debt.”
The decision follows months of controversy over the robo-debt debacle and lack of service availability at Centrelink, culminating in Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support staff stepping up strikes in April.
“DHS has been described as an agency in crisis,” Ms Flood said. “These jobs will help repair that damage, while the department also needs to agree a fair and reasonable outcome to resolve enterprise bargaining and implement the key recommendations of last week’s inquiry report into robo-debt.”
Meanwhile in NSW, 400 may be cut
The Public Service Association believes the NSW Government will slash more than 400 jobs in disability services and child protection.
The cuts will be of frontline jobs in areas such as disability services, child protection and housing, as part of the 2017-2018 budget.
Under the Family and Community Services (FACS) Cluster Operating Model, the NSW Government has outlined plans to shed at least 429 jobs across Sydney and regional NSW.
Even more jobs are expected to go as further cuts are announced to corporate and state-wide services in the coming weeks.
The PSA says many of these jobs are in regional and remote NSW where service provision is already stretched and comparable employment isn’t available.