Centrelink Sucks

I know the plant picture above is completely irrelevant to today's post, but it makes me happy and calm - the complete opposite of what this topic makes me feel.

I had a different post originally lined up for today, but thanks to the events of Thursday afternoon I've decided to change things up. If you didn't grasp from the title, this post is going to be one long rant, so if you hate those kinds of posts probably best to click away now.

Today's post is about good ol' Centrelink. For anyone who isn't Australian, Centrelink is basically a government run body/organisation that, among other things, provides payments and financial support for people in a variety of situations, including University students, people without work or unable to work, Indigenous people, people doing apprenticeships, etc. It's notorious for being a pretty terribly run body, particularly when it comes to their customer service. My rant below is related to a student payment they provide called Youth Allowance, which is basically a payment given to those who study full-time and meet other eligibility requirements. So as a bit of a disclaimer, I can't speak for the other services Centrelink provides and whether they are the same, better or worse.

The post I have below is one I posted to their Student Update Facebook page. This page was created to give people information and updates relating to student payments, and somewhere that people could ask questions. However, as I mention below, I think it is just another pointless piece of the system. Also, if you have a query in relation to a student payment or claim for a payment, you can't actually go into a Centrelink branch and talk to a person face-to-face. Your only option is to call up a Student Services line, where it's not shocking to be on hold for an hour or more before you talk to anyone. The system just does not work effectively.

With all that being said, enjoy the rant .....


Today I've realised just how pointless the student call up line is. I've only ever talked to extremely lovely people when I call up (I literally just got off the phone after 2 hours on hold) but what the lady I spoke to today basically highlighted to me is that the people you talk to in the call centre pretty much can do nothing for you - in fact anyone you talk to in any form in relation to centrelink when it comes to STUDENT CLAIMS, can do nothing for you. All they can do is what someone in a branch can do, look at a computer screen, check if documents have been submitted and look at what the status says, they no longer even have information about what date of claims are being processed. The lady I was talking to today had to tell me so many times how sorry she was that she literally couldn't do anything for me - there was literally nothing we could do to resolve my issue when I was on the phone for her, nothing! See the thing is you're never actually speaking to anyone who is handling the processing of your claim in anyway - in fact I was told today that those in the call centre aren't ever meant to contact people from the processing team either, so they can't get any more information anyway because they're not allowed to. Despite the lovely people who work there, it is basically a pointless call line!!

My situation for background is I put in a Youth Allowance claim on the 11th November, 2015. Throughout 2015 I received emails weekly telling me it was still processing, which I was fine with. Come 2016 I stopped receiving any type of communications (which is now being looked into). I went into a branch to check everything was still okay and a lady checked the computer and told me everything was fine and to continue waiting. Another month passed and I heard nothing at all so I went back into the branch and was told I couldn't talk to anyone in the branch now that I had to call up (which on realising those on the call line do nothing more than what someone in branch is capable of, this seems perfectly stupid). I called and the lady on the phone was a little shocked I was still waiting but there was nothing she could do so I was told to keep waiting and it was noted I was currently living of savings which have obviously decreased since putting in my claim. I put in a complaint with Centrelink. Called back a week or two later and again the lady I spoke to was surprised I was still waiting. She said hopefully you see something within a week, if you don't see anything within two weeks though give us a call back and get it sorted, and she noted my claim was outside the 42 day period. The next week I received a callback from someone from the complaints department, and all she basically did was tell me to keep waiting (so I don't know why she bothered to call me). Today it was roughly two weeks since my previous call so I called up. After hour I got into contact with someone who was again surprised it was taking so long and she said she was going to put me on the priority line to get me through to someone who should hopefuly be able to sort it out. After another half hour I got into contact with the last person I just got off the phone with and we had the conversation detailed above. I expressed all my concerns I'm mentioning here with her, even the fact that I knew people who had put in claims after myself and had managed to call up and get their claims processed (and they didn't have any financial hardship or other circumstances which helped push their claim forward - it seems somehow they simply got lucky). The lady was extremely apologetic, but at the end of the day it doesn't change the fact I basically have no idea how my claim is going, or when it will be done, I just keep getting told it should be done soon or get told to call back and it will be sorted and it never is. I don't even have a clue anymore how their processing works because I know people with later claims than mine that have already been processed and yet I'm still waiting. 

For a government organisation who is subject to the same crictism and complaints year after year, even around the same time periods every year, to still have such a hopeless system which clearly has not been rethought or updated because the same issues and complaints continue to arise, is basically disgusting and is making so many people's lives difficult and stressful. You're causing so many people unnecessary anxiety, stress and generally upsetting their lives in relation to issues that would be well-known to this organisation and really should have been tackled and better dealt with by now.

Let's see if this post gets the same automated response that every single post on this page gets - another useless tool.

What's your opinion?

  1. This is extremely similar to my frustrations! I know how you feel, I did all the steps you did (went into a branch and waited an hour before they told me to call someone) and every other annoying thing! I had a lady a few weeks ago tell me my claim had been approved and I should expect money in my account within 2-3 days. After a week nothing happened so I called the complaint line and the man pretty much said that the lady lied to me and has no idea why she said that. ANYWAY- I submitted my claim 23rd November and just got my payment today after I RECEIVED (not made) a call last week- so I'm hoping the same thing happened to you? And that you're now receiving payments? If not, contact an ombudsman (you can do it online) and they can help! Best of luck.

  2. You have summed up my situation accurately, although i submitted my claim on the 21st of December.
    I haven't been contacted for the past month about any of it. The last time i called i basically got told the same thing, don't bother calling no one can do anything about anything, just wait... for nothing. I'm in a position that i cannot even afford the rest of my textbooks let alone to pay next months bills.


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