Govt must come clean on Centrelink closures

The union representing the public sector including Centrelink workers, the CPSU, is calling on the government to come clean with what the future of face to face Centrelink services will be.

Yesterday without prior consultation or notice, Services Australia staff were told that the Yarra Service Centre would be closed this Friday.

This afternoon under huge community pressure, Services Australia has announced it will not close this Friday, but in 3 months’ time with no plan to reopen or move locations.

This closure leaves a large area of Melbourne with high needs without access to face to face services.

Australia has seen the demand for these services surge during this pandemic. The need for these services will not go away in 3 months. And in the economic wake of COVID-19 the availability and access to these services will be critical.

The CPSU calls on the Morrison Government to ensure that the centre is retained, or another service centre is opened in the area to ensure access to essential services.

Over the last 6 months in Victoria, the Newport, Mornington and Abbotsford Centrelink Service Centres have closed or been slated to close. Additionally, four Victorian Medicare offices have been closed in the last 12 months. These closures are being mirrored right across the country.

This is a worrying trend for the most disadvantaged Australians who continue to rely on face to face services.

Alistair Waters, CPSU National President said, “The CPSU is shocked and disappointed by Services Australia’s decision to close the Abbotsford site. While we welcome the delay, the need for face to face services isn’t going to magically disappear in 3 months.”

“The Yarra Service Centre provides face to face services for significant numbers of the most vulnerable members of our community, many of whom have higher levels of difficulty accessing alternative channels.”

“This announcement has been poorly managed and very confusing for the community. And the fact that they did it in the middle of a pandemic with an unprecedented surge in Centrelink demand, is unforgivable.”

“Under the Morrison Government there has been a worrying trend of office closures leading to a reduction or removal of face to face services in communities.”

“The Morrison Government has a responsibility to ensure all Australians have access to the essential services they deserve. Our members are calling on the Morrison Government to commit to keeping or replacing the Yarra Service Centre in the immediate area.”

/Public Release. View in full here.