Govt must prepare for an influx of Centrelink applications

The union representing Services Australia and Centrelink workers is today calling on the Morrison Government to ease mutual obligation requirements on government payments and increase funding to Services Australia.

Right now, there are over 3.3 million casual and insecure workers across Australia that have no access to paid leave if they are affected by COVID-19. This includes over 23,000 Australian Public Service contractors and labour hire workers.

The impact of COVID-19 is hitting businesses hard, the number of workers, individuals, and businesses who need support will inevitably increase in the coming weeks.

It is time for the government to support businesses around the country, by helping them keep staff. And where workers lose their jobs, it is imperative that they can access Australia’s social safety net quickly and remotely.

Today the CPSU is calling on the Morrison Government to:

  • Implement a 2-week payment for quarantined workers who do not have paid leave;
  • Increase Services Australia funding for direct employment to ensure adequate front-line capacity to deal with the imminent influx of applications;
  • Redeploy the 2500 compliance staff to front-line functions, helping to ease the increased pressure on Service Australia;
  • Stop the punitive compliance measures and face-to-face requirements that are not absolutely necessary; and
  • Raise the rate of Newstart to ensure that there is one payment for people who are out of work across the country.

CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly today said, “Right now, there are businesses laying off hundreds of staff and standing workers down, with no payouts or leave entitlements. There is no doubt we are about to see an increase in applications for assistance over the next six months due to COVID-19. In fact, our Services Australia members are reporting that the spike in work has already started.”

“We know that Services Australia is understaffed and overworked at the best of times. Under normal circumstances as many as 55 million calls to Services Australia go unanswered every year. That is why the Morrison Government must supply additional funding for direct employment to build on the experienced workforce.”

“Our members are ready and willing to help Australians affected by COVID-19, but we cannot pretend it is business as usual. We are already seeing large scale stand downs, so we know that there are barely any jobs to apply for, that’s why are calling to suspend some mutual obligations.”

“We must listen to the medical experts that are asking us to follow key social distancing practices. People should not have to walk door to door, shaking hands and attending 10 interviews a fortnight, at a time when Australians needs to flatten the curve.”

“It is also time for Scott Morrison to raise the rate of Newstart to ensure that there is one payment for people out of work across the country. An introduction of a two-tier, two-rate, two-class payment system is nothing but foolishness.“

“Increasing Newstart to provide a decent payment accessible for everyone also helps small business and the community. This is not just a matter of fairness but also essential to ensure straight forward administration in such trying times.”

MEDIA CONTACT: ALEX WEST 0427 359 316

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