The union representing the public sector including Centrelink, the CPSU, is calling on the Government to make all necessary changes to ensure that every Australian who needs to access our safety net, can do so quickly and remotely.

Three states are now in lockdown, thousands of Australians are out of work, and in the middle of the largest COVID outbreak Australia has seen it is unacceptable that people still need to physically present at a Services Australia site to get the help they need.

Throughout the pandemic Centrelink and Services Australia staff have worked longer and harder than ever before, to try and meet the unprecedented surge. But the Government must be willing to change its focus and rules to meet the new challenges.

Last year action was taken so queues at Centrelink Service Centres weren’t necessary. But staggeringly, JobSeeker rules and the new COVID Disaster Payment rules are requiring individuals to attend a Service Centre for an in-person identification check.

The CPSU is calling on immediate and resolute action from the Morrison Government to protect the health of community members trying to access essential public services.

That must include allowing new customers to access help remotely.

Quotes attributable to CPSU National President Alistair Waters:

“The time for action is now. The Government cannot ignore the lines outside Centrelink while the health advice is to stay home and socially distance. At the peak of the pandemic last year the Government upgraded online access and CPSU members are calling for this to occur again.”

“Our members are trying their best to help the tens of thousands of Australians at one of the hardest times of their lives, but they are concerned about community safety with long queues and long waits outside Centrelink offices.”

“The safety of our communities is key to meeting all the health and economic challenges facing us. That is why both people needing help and Centrelink and Services Australia staff must be protected to ensure that services can continue to be rolled out as quickly as possible.”

“NSW has been in lockdown for four weeks; the Government should have already acted. We are calling on the Morrison Government to action every available option to limit community interaction and upgrade online access, just as they did last year.”