Fifty five million calls to Centrelink call centres went unanswered during 2016-2017.
Of these, the Minister for Human Services said, 20 per cent were repeat calls made through apps.
So, by Centrelink’s own admission, it let the phone ring out on 44 million callers.
The Minister for Human Services’ media release on 8 August announces “an additional 1,500 staff to complement the Department of Human Services’ workforce”.
The Minister also points out the 1,500 are “on top of 1,000 staff announced in April”.
The Minister claims that those first 1,000 staff “have already answered more than 2 million calls and have helped reduce busy signals on Centrelink phone lines by almost 20 per cent”.
This means that 44 million unanswered calls annually were reduced to 35.2 million unanswered calls.
It also means that the 1,500 additional staff just announced can be expected to reduce the number of unanswered calls by a further 13.2 million to 22 million unanswered calls.
This is not exactly something to crow about, even though Centrelink will potentially halve the number of unanswered calls.
Based on the Government’s own stats, the conclusion is that Centrelink would have to employ a further 2,500 staff (a total of 5,000) just to do what every business must do if it doesn’t want to go bankrupt: Answer the phone.
What is also interesting about the Minister’s announcement is that it allows a calculation to be made about how long an average call to Centrelink goes for.
Assuming there are 46 working weeks in a year and 40 hours in a working week, Centrelink expects to spend 13 minutes on each call.