Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon has spoken today in Parliament House in support of the thousands of people in his electorate who cannot secure assistance or advice from local Centrelink offices.
“I rise to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves: the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the unemployed and families who are dealing with the loss of an elderly parent—people who cannot secure any assistance or advice from our Centrelink offices,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“I have had constituents in my office literally crying—in tears—because of the way they have been treated by Centrelink. They have been unable to get the assistance they need.”
It’s apparent the Turnbull Government’s disgraceful cuts have spiralled the Human Services system into a state of crisis.
“They have stories of near empty Centrelink offices with not a staff member to be seen, stories about waiting for hours on hold on the phone for advice and stories about being expected to go online to interact with Centrelink—usually, of course, with no success,” he added.
The Government is promoting a culture of punishment rather than assistance.
“I have been told by a whistle-blower that Centrelink staff are basically being told by senior management to tell people to get lost and they are not there to help them. This is the sort of culture that is being developed in Centrelink by this Government,” he said.
During his statement to the House Mr Fitzgibbon acknowledged and empathised with Centrelink staff who have been placed under unfair and unacceptable pressure due to a growing lack of resources.
“Those professional public servants who, of course, are overworked because of the cuts but who also inevitably wear the brunt of the anger of people who cannot get the service and advice they require,” he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon calls for the Turnbull Government to reverse Centrelink cuts and to restore vital services to ensure all Australians are treated with the respect they deserve.