25 September 2023

Union study finds DHS cuts ‘damaging’

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The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has published a report on the impact of job and spending cuts at the Department of Human Services (DHS) over the past five years, declaring the results to be “damaging”.

The CPSU’s Centrelink and Medicare Privatisation Report, includes the findings of a survey of around 1,300 Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support workers.

Deputy Secretary of the CPSU, Melissa Donnelly said the report revealed a “damaging and ideologically motivated attack on Medicare and Centrelink services”.

Ms Donnelly said that whether it was the robo-debt controversy, the thousands of quality, permanent DHS jobs that had been cut, or the decision to farm out essential Medicare and Centrelink services, the Department had been undermined at every step.

“Anyone who has needed to access Medicare or Centrelink services in recent years knows that service quality has declined, including the 48 million callers who couldn’t even get through on the phone at all in 2017-18,” Ms Donnelly said.

“Critically, this report now also includes the perspective of our members who work so hard to provide these services.”

She said the Government had systematically attacked the social security system and the millions of people who relied on it for help and support.

She said the attack had been launched in several phases, including stigmatising people who accessed DHS services, through mechanisms such as robo-debt or referring to new mothers as “double dippers”; slashing DHS’s budget and sacking thousands of permanent DHS staff; mounting backlogs for applications; and using reduced services as an excuse to bring in corporate interests through contract and labour hire arrangements.

The CPSU’s 17-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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