Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters today said that a Labor Government will convert many of the Bendigo Centrelink casuals to permanent full time positions and as a consequence improve the quality of service to Central Victorians receiving Centrelink support.
"There are currently around 3,000 casual staff across the Department of Human Services (DHS) including about 40 at our Bendigo Centrelink office and smart centre.
"Labor will take steps to reverse the increase in precarious employment in the public service by providing $75m over four years in capped funding to convert casual employees into permanent employees, with access to further training and appropriate professional support.
"This is great news for Bendigo. Labor understands the importance of essential government services and will support the core government services provided by Centrelink and the Department of Human Services.
"Far too often, constituents contact my office with complaints about Centrelink phone wait times and claim processing times. However, it's not the fault of the Centrelink workforce and most constituents acknowledge this.
"Job cuts at Centrelink have led to an increase in the use of casual staff and, frustratingly for all Centrelink employees, these workers have not received the level of training required to support the Central Victorians who contact Centrelink with questions or problems,” said Ms Chesters.
Centrelink services have significantly declined under the Liberal Government, and the cuts made in the 2016 Budget will diminish services, increase wait times and increase the frustration of Central Victorians who need to access DHS services.
"The Liberal Government’s under-staffing across the services of the DHS is causing terrible hardship to parents, students, the elderly, and Australia’s most vulnerable people.
“Since this Government came into power, we have seen job cuts at Bendigo Australia Post, Centrelink, Medicare, the Australian Emergency Management Institute and the Australian Tax Office.
"For the Central Victorian economy to be strong, we need our fair share of Commonwealth public sector jobs.
"This is a great Labor commitment. It means more full time, secure, Bendigo based Centrelink jobs and at the same time, will ensure Central Victorians who access these services will receive assistance from well-trained professionals who are not being crippled with excessive workloads and insecure employment,” said Ms Chesters.