Unanswered phone calls at Services Australia reflect the attraction and retention issues plaguing the Australian Public Service, according to the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

The Senate Estimates process revealed that Centrelink is currently operating 500 staff below the level of staff they are funded to have, and are struggling to fill those vacant positions, which is resulting in unanswered calls and increasing wait times.

Attraction and retention of APS employees is an issue that has grown as private sector wages and conditions have pulled ahead of the public sector.

To prevent public services from deteriorating, the Federal Government must urgently address these attraction and retention issues plaguing the APS and invest in re-establishing itself as a model employer.

The CPSU will be campaigning for public servants to have substantial improvements to both their pay and conditions as it enters service-wide bargaining this year and has encouraged the Federal Government to further increase APS staffing numbers in its May budget.

Quotes attributable to Matthew Harrison, CPSU Deputy National President:

“Phone calls are going unanswered in Services Australia because the APS is facing an attraction and retention crisis, while it also works to recover from a decade of staffing cuts.

“In order to attract and then retain staff, Services Australia needs to be a better place to work; its employees need a pay increase that reflects rising cost of living pressures, conditions must be improved, those on labour hire agreements need to be transferred into permanent and ongoing secure jobs and there needs to be a boost in overall staffing numbers.

“Failure to do this will see the same problems surface time and time again.

“Staff vacancies in Services Australia, which are the result of deliberate Coalition Government policies, not only leave Australians unable to access the public services they rely on but result in existing staff being overworked and burning out.

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620