FOLLOWING an article last week about the planned cutback in hours allocated to the Moora Centrelink agency, the Department of Human Services has defended the decision saying that the reduction brings the agency into line with other agencies that have similar levels of use around the country.
DoHS general manager Hank Jongen said the funding hours in Moora had been reduced incrementally to bring the agent closer to the correct relative level of funding compared to other agents across the country.
“Customer activity has not significantly changed at this site since the allocation model was introduced,” he said.
“Agents receive funding based on an allocation model that measures both potential and actual activity at an agent and compares that with data from each of the other 177 rural agents in Australia.
“An agent's hours are calculated by taking into account a number of things including customer populations, transactions, customer visits and use of the agent's facilities including the phone, fax and computer.”
He said the department had worked closely with the Moora agent to ensure facilities such as the phone, fax and computer are utilised.
“For example, the Moora agent customer computer is currently being relocated in the agent’s site so customers can more easily access the facility,” Mr Jongen said.
“The wait times for agent phones can be significant during periods of high demand or when customers need to complete extended interviews – this is not specific to Moora and applies to all agents.
“The funding model is regularly refreshed with updated data and the department analyses the information for any significant changes in customer demand that may warrant a review of an agent’s contracted hours.
“Agents can also request for their contracted hours to be reviewed at any time.”