A Shorten Labor Government will invest in over 100 new Centrelink Community Response Officers – to meet the needs of those facing drought or other adversity.
Labor will also boost rural services with two additional Mobile Service Centres, doubling the current capacity. This will mean real boots-on-the-ground when locals need it most.
The drought in New South Wales and Queensland has been severe and harsh, the toll on farmers and their families heavy.
Farmers don’t have time to deal with complicated bureaucratic processes when they’re concentrating on getting through the drought.
So Labor wants to ensure that assistance is getting to farmers as quickly as possible with support on hand from Centrelink officers when they need it.
Community Response Officers will be specially trained in establishing local outreach services when and where families face stress or crisis.
In practical terms, this will stop people falling through the cracks with quicker access to income support, and better links to financial counselling, and mental health services.
The current drought has exposed the consequences of the Liberals’ cuts to Centrelink, with up to 15,000 – or two thirds – of eligible farmers missing out on the Farm Household Allowance.
When not leading outreach services, the additional staff will be part of Centrelink’s broader workforce across the country.
The Turnbull Government should reverse their cuts to Centrelink and invest in better face-to-face frontline services for rural communities.
Labor can make this commitment because we will invest in Centrelink’s workforce with 1,200 permanent, full-time, properly trained staff.