Since my last post on Sunday I have flown to Grafton that evening, delivered a full day workshop Monday and then driven to Armidale. Overnight there and then a drive to Tamworth for another workshop. Back to Sydney Tuesday night, today a full day metro workshop and then to Newcastle tomorrow for another workshop. Friday to Queensland for a conference.
In all, I am stuffed and had no intention of posting. Then I was provoked!
I rather think Jim’s praise for Centrelink is a bit short sighted given thatn it doesn’t matter to most people if they can apply online or not when they don’t get their payment anyway, are harassed by Job Networks for jobs that cannot sustain them anyway, are asked to pay back money for Centrelinks mistake, staff are trained in how to breach clients but not how to refer them to assistance programs…
The list could go on. I think people’s hatred for Centrelink is very very reaching.
I know where Benjamin is coming from. However, I do feel obliged to add to my comments in Centrelink's defence.
Centrelink officials are there to deliver services and administer Government policy. When, as happened with the Howard Government, they get directives to do certain things, they respond. This is reinforced by the modern performance management techniques with their emphasis on the measurable. Change what is measured, and you change official performance.
Now my personal view is that some of the things that the Howard Government attempted to do via Centrelink was bad policy, while also being obscene in moral terms. I suspect that Benjamin and I might disagree on detail, but would still reach common ground as to thrust.
I was impressed about Centrelink's approach to e-services because there was a focus on making things easier for people, not just shifting processing load onto them.
Anybody who has been to Centrelink will remember the long lines until you reached reception. Who would want to repeat this? Frustrating, especially if you just have a routine processing matter.
To solve this, you give customers access so that they can alter details on line.
Not everybody has a computer, especially the poor. So you create self-service points at the front of the office. Here people can do their own thing. You also encourage people to use local libraries. And you enter into a deal with a not-for-profit to provide refurbished computers to Centrelink customers.
These computers come from firms such as Westpac as they upgrade. They are refurbished, new software added by Microsoft. This means that people can get a Pentium 4 with a full Office suite for $250. Demand has out-run supply, but thousands of computers are now being supplied around Australia.
Long lines still exist in some places. However, they have shrunk. Further, Centrelink sick days have also shrunk because staff no longer have to deal with so many frustrated customers.
In all this, the big demand area that has surprised Centrelink are the "elderly" such as Neil. Demand here has really pressed against Centrelink's ability to supply!