The Community and Public Sector Union has blamed chronic and prolonged underfunding for computer issues and other major problems at the Department of Human Services.
Some of the most vulnerable people in Australia are among those who have been hit by computer malfunctions at Centrelink over recent months.
In the latest cases, thousands of families were incorrectly advised they owed Centrelink money, while in November and December computer issues were blamed for missed payments.
Problems causing the Bureau of Meteorology’s website to crash also suggest insufficient funding in an agency that is heavily reliant on technology.
CPSU National President Alistair Waters said: “These computer malfunctions at Centrelink could not come at a worse time of year, given the extra financial pressure many families are under over the Christmas period.”
“Workers care deeply about their clients, and our members are sick of Governments failing to provide the tools and staff numbers needed to deliver the excellent service the community deserves.”
“It’s little surprise that customer service standards have eroded so much over recent years. The Government has refused to invest in IT systems while cutting staff numbers and turning to an increasingly casual workforce.”
“Centrelink apologising to its customers for these major errors is one thing, but what’s really needed is for the Government to provide DHS with adequate resources for computer systems and an engaged and well trained workforce.”
“The problems with the Bureau of Meteorology website are also a cause for concern, especially given the important information provided for people facing potential disasters such as bushfires and flooding at this time of year.”
“We have members of the Government like Finance Minister Mathias Cormann boasting that the number of people working in the public sector has been cut back to 2006 levels, while ignoring the fact that Australia’s population has grown by more than 3 million people who expect decent services from Centrelink, BOM and other agencies.”
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