Service Delivery Reform

4.8 DHS is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provides access to social, health and other payments and services. It was created on 26 October 2004, as part of the Finance and Administration portfolio.[2]

4.9 In December 2009, the Australian Government announced a Service Delivery Reform initiative aimed to ‘improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to the Australian people’.[3] As part of this initiative, the Human Services portfolio agencies (namely, the DHS—including the CSA, FAO and CRS Australia—Centrelink, and Medicare Australia) have been integrating back-office support services, customer contact areas and co-locating some shopfronts.[4]

4.10 One of the key goals of the integration is to provide seamlessness for customers and stakeholders who access services delivered by the Human Services portfolio.[5] In addition, it is envisaged that the integration will allow a ‘tell us once’ approach for customers, and make it easier for customers to update details once, across the portfolio, should they choose to have their information shared.[6]

ICT support services

4.11 As part of the integration process, the DHS will integrate the disparate information and communication technology (ICT) systems that support Medicare, Centrelink and the CSA,[7] and move to a single shared gateway, with a single security management system for payment systems across the three agencies.

Customer contact areas and co-located shop fronts

4.12 As a result of the Service Delivery Reforms, as of 1 July 2011, Centrelink no longer operates as a statutory agency and its functions have been integrated into the DHS. As such, Centrelink and CSA now sit under a single portfolio website and phone number. As at 14 February 2011, 34 sites were providing Centrelink and Medicare services from ‘one-stop-shops’, which will be progressively rolled out to more places across Australia.

4.13 The Minister for Human Services explained that ‘[t]his initiative will reduce the need for people to navigate their way around different agencies, making it easier to connect with the services and information people require’.[8]

Case Coordination

4.14 As part of the 2010–11 Budget, the Human Services Portfolio announced the trial of a new service delivery approach to provide increased support for people needing assistance—called ‘Case Coordination’.[9]

4.15 The Case Coordination approach aims to enable people, processes and systems ‘to work in an integrated way and consistently identify customers with complex needs who will benefit from targeted or specialised services’.[10] Nineteen sites are planned for 2011–12, with a total of 44 sites by 2013–14. Those who have been identified as ‘facing significant disadvantage or complex challenges’ include people who are homeless, long-term unemployed, living with a disability or literacy difficulties, or facing barriers like drug or alcohol dependency.[11]

4.16 The type of support and assistance that will be offered through Case Coordination will vary depending on customers’ needs. However, it may include ‘simple referrals to services like training programs; information about other services; intensive support for multiple coordinated appointments with non-government and local community services to help people facing issues like homelessness or gambling dependency’.[12]

Centrelink, CSA and FAO

4.17 Centrelink customer service advisers are often the first point of contact for a person wishing to claim a social security payment or entitlement. Claims for social security payments must generally be made in writing by completing the relevant Centrelink form either online or in hardcopy. In some circumstances, claims may be made by telephone or in person.

4.18 While Centrelink administers family assistance payments on behalf of the FAO,[13] the FAO provides a range of ‘first-point-of-contact services’, including:

  • operating an FAO call centre;

  • assisting with family assistance enquiries;

  • providing information about payment options;

  • receiving claim forms; and

  • ‘making appointments with other FAO staff for complex enquiries and interviews’.[14]

4.19 The CSA assesses child support amounts, and collects child support where requested by payees. Centrelink also has a role in the administration of the child support system, in particular, where it intersects with the family assistance system. Centrelink administers the ‘reasonable maintenance action’ test, discussed in further detail in Chapters 9 and 11. Briefly, the reasonable maintenance action test requires a person who is eligible for child support, and receives more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit (FTB), to obtain child support.

[2] T Plibersek, The Human Services Portfolio <> at 22 July 2011.

[3] Revised Explanatory Memorandum Human Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 (Cth).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Department of Human Services, Additional Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry of the Human Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 (2011).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Department of Human Services, Budget 2011-12: Increased Support for People Needing Assistance (2011).

[8] C Bowen (Minister for Human Services), ‘Reform to Deliver Service That Works For You’ (Press Release, 16 December 2009).

[9] Department of Human Services, Budget 2011-12: Increased Support for People Needing Assistance (2011).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Child Support Agency, Website <> at 7 March 2011.

[14] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Family Assistance Guide <> at 22 July 2011, [1.3].