Service Delivery Transformation
The department has actively contributed to the development of the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda (DTA) and the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) within the Communications portfolio. The DTA is about delivering services that are focused on the user, moving from traditional face-to-face and phone services to those that are digital by design.
The DTO is engaging with industry and in addition is leveraging the department’s existing service delivery transformation capability as part of a whole-of-government approach to improving digital services that support a user-centric experience.
During the year the myGov digital service continued to grow, with over 7,000,000 active accounts at 30 June 2015. myGov provides users with secure and easy access to a range of government online services, a secure digital inbox to receive mail from participating member services, and the ability to update address details in 1 place and have that information automatically notified to linked participating member services—see myGov on page 155.
Digital and online services
The department recognises that many of its customers now expect to interact with us in a modern and convenient way, and we are continuing to identify new and emerging technologies to support quick and easy access to services, at a time that suits them.
Our strong focus is on encouraging more Medicare claiming from the point where health services are provided. Digital claiming from the point of service requires the least effort for customers as no direct help from the department is needed for patients making a Medicare claim.
- 1. Self-service transactions include using Express Plus mobile apps, the internet and, for Centrelink, phone self-service.
Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation
In April 2015 the government announced its commitment to replace the ageing Centrelink information and communications technology (ICT) system.
This is a significant, multi-year transformation programme. It will build a new welfare payments ICT system that will enable the department to:
- provide customers with faster, more connected and automated digital services
- give staff a modern ICT platform that makes it easier for them to do their jobs
- position us to meet the future policy and service delivery needs of government
The new system will be implemented through multiple work packages over several years, starting on 1 July 2015.
The myGov digital service is a simple, secure way for people to access many Australian Government services online in a place and at a time that is convenient for them to undertake their business including looking for lost superannuation, submitting their income tax returns, and claiming payments.
A myGov account gives a user 1 secure account to access online services provided by the department, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Health (the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record), the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the Department of Employment’s Australian JobSearch which became the eighth myGov member service on 13 December 2014. It is anticipated that more government agencies will join myGov over time.
The myGov sign-in process was enhanced in December 2014, giving users the option of using security codes sent to their mobile phone instead of secret questions and answers to sign in to their account.
At 30 June 2015 there were over 7,000,000 active myGov accounts.
Other features of the myGov digital service include user access to digital mail through their myGov account. People can also update their personal details and notify change of address in 1 transaction in their myGov account and have the changes automatically notified to the department and the ATO.
The myGov capability was also expanded to include the MyPost functionality. At 30 Jun 2015, 175,284 letters had been sent to the MyPost Digital Mailbox since it started on 26 July 2014.
The ATO started using the myGov inbox in March 2015, joining Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare services in providing a convenient way for people to receive their digital mail in 1 secure inbox. At 30 June 2015 over 58,200,000 new and past letters had been delivered to customers through the myGov inbox.
The first myGov shopfront opened to the public in Brisbane as a proof-of-concept trial site in 2013-14. The second trial site was opened in Sydney’s CBD on 5 January 2015. Visitors to the myGov shopfronts are supported in using digital services to access myGov and connect with member services. When a person is unable to self-manage, or where services are not yet available digitally, staff can assist with simple transactions, information and referrals. The trials are also testing the effectiveness of the myGov brand for whole-of-government face-to-face servicing.
As a first step in delivering government services in an easy and integrated way, during the year the department and the ATO worked together on myGov shopfront proof-of-concept design, planning and implementation.
Following on from the 2 trial sites in Brisbane and Sydney, the department opened 2 more myGov shopfronts in Adelaide and Perth in June 2015, again working together with the ATO, with others in Albury and Melbourne due to open soon.
Express Plus mobile apps
The department’s Express Plus mobile apps continue to be a popular and convenient way for customers to engage with government services, allowing customers to have access to services anywhere, at any time. In 2014-15 the department launched:
- Express Plus Child Support mobile app for iOS devices for child support customers
- Express Plus Centrelink mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, which combines the department’s Families, Job Seekers, Students and Seniors apps into a single, easy to use app tailored to the customer’s circumstances
Persian (Farsi) language support was also added to the existing Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese languages in the Express Plus Lite Multilingual mobile app, which allows customers to report their earnings.
Since their introduction the department’s Express Plus mobile apps have been downloaded more than 4,900,000 times. In 2014-15 over 61,000,000 transactions were completed compared to 36,000,000 in 2013-14.
High definition video conferencing pilot
During the year the department continued an innovative pilot to explore and evaluate opportunities for using video conferencing technology. The pilot offers face-to-face services through high definition video conferencing, focusing on customers who may find it difficult to visit a service centre.
In 2014-15 Disability Support Pension customers, social work customers, customers seeking advice from the Financial Information Service and people in search of work participated in face-to-face interviews and seminars via video conferencing. Interactive multipoint webinars were also conducted with health and allied health professionals.
The pilot is also exploring the use of multimedia technologies such as smartphones and tablet devices to allow customers to connect with the department.
So far we have received positive feedback from customers who have trialled the services.
Increasingly the department is using electronic messaging to communicate with customers receiving various notifications. This is helping to reduce the number of letters mailed to customers and eliminate unnecessary and confusing communication—see also Table 74 on page 162.
Electronic document scanning
The department scans and stores customer correspondence received by mail and fax. Once a document is scanned onto an individual’s record the digital image can then be accessed electronically by staff from anywhere in Australia.
We are exploring how we can better use technology to receive and manage customer documents submitted at service centres, by mail, fax, email, online and Express Plus mobile apps. Work on identifying solutions for extracting and processing information from digital documents with minimal or no staff intervention is also under way.
Document Lodgement Service
The Document Lodgement Service is a quick and easy method for customers to submit documents online. Customers can access the service through their Centrelink online account, myGov and Express Plus mobile apps.
Since it started in April 2013 over 2,100,000 documents have been submitted using the service, with an average of 2,200 documents lodged each day and over 1,400,000 submitted in 2014-15.
In 2014-15 the department introduced Sickness Allowance and Mobility Allowance online claims. The Families online claim was enhanced to streamline and improve the customer experience. The Families, Student and Apprentice, and Age Pension transfer online claims were modernised to reduce the need for staff intervention. In 2014-15 more than 1,800,000 claims were made online, an increase of 63% on 2013-14.
Over 70% of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment and Youth Allowance (job seeker) claims are currently submitted online.
Customers can also manage their appointments online and through Express Plus mobile apps.
Personal details and circumstance updates
The department continues to enable customers to update a range of their circumstances online. During 2014-15 new services were introduced for customers to update bank account balances, update shares and other assets, and report overseas travel details.
Improvements were made to a number of online services including updating contact, address and accommodation details, reporting employment income, claiming an advance payment and requesting documents online. The report employment income and update address, contacts and accommodation online services were also transformed to reduce the need for staff intervention.
In 2014-15 customers completed over 112,000,000 of these transactions online and via Express Plus mobile apps compared to 95,000,000 in 2013-14.
Online income stream reviews
In August 2014 the department introduced an online service for customers who are required to complete income stream reviews. Customers can either access their online account or use a one-time access code to complete the review. The majority of online income stream reviews are auto-processed without the need for staff intervention. These reviews were assessed by the department in August 2014 and February 2015.
Improved access to online services
In 2014-15 the department continued to improve access to its online services. This included automatically upgrading 99,000 customers to ‘one level’ of access for their Centrelink online services account which provides a wider range of digital services including updating customer details, applying for advance payments and reporting employment income. Improvements were also made to online services for individual and third party nominees, expanding the user base and the number of transactions available.
Electronic rent verification
Community housing organisations registered with the department can provide updated rent information for their residents who are receiving payments from the department. With this service a customer does not have to provide a rent certificate to receive their Rent Assistance payment.
The department’s Confirmation eServices allow customers to share their information online with participating third-party organisations such as local councils and utility service providers. It provides the minimum amount of information necessary to electronically confirm a person’s entitlement to a social welfare payment from the department or a DVA payment to:
- receive a concession, rebate or service—Customer Confirmation
- request income, assets and payment details for people receiving income support—Income Confirmation
- assist administrators and trustees of superannuation funds to decide whether superannuation can be released early due to financial hardship—Superannuation Confirmation
It is mandatory for an organisation to obtain a person’s consent before accessing any information via Confirmation eServices. People can withdraw their consent at any time. In 2014-15 there were 67,600,000 Confirmation eServices transactions compared to 55,600,000 in 2013-14.
Online services for health professionals
Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) provides secure access to a range of online services for health professionals and their administrators.
In 2014-15 a number of new services were added to HPOS, including:
- the ability for health professionals to submit claims over the internet for allied, dental health and optical services for DVA patients. This gives small businesses an alternative to paper claiming and reduces their regulatory overheads
- the ability for health professionals to bulk bill Medicare directly for any medical and some allied health services that the patient received
- automatic notifications sent to health professionals when new mail is in their HPOS mailbox
As well the HPOS website was redesigned to make HPOS easier to navigate and use.
|2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||% change since
|Accesses to HPOS||1,489,583||1,946,095||2,897,581||+48.89|
Letters and forms
During the year the department encouraged people to register for letters online rather than have them sent in hard copy to their mailing address—see Table 71 on page 161. Customers can receive letters online through their myGov inbox. They are sent an SMS—see Table 74 on page 162—or email to alert them to a new letter.
In 2014-15 we sent 55,081,039 letters online compared to 46,383,176 in 2013-14—see Table 73 on page 162. The number of letters sent through mail houses decreased from 92,719,932 in 2013-14 to 82,115,117 in 2014-15—see Table 72 on page 161.
The department also continued to improve the content of letters and forms for customers. Letters were reviewed and revisions made to ensure the letters are easier to understand, whether in hard copy or electronically.
We also offer a range of printable claim forms that can be downloaded by customers. The volume of forms printed and distributed fell from 20,961,146 in 2013-14 to 19,661,735 in 2014-15.
|2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||% change since
|Customers registered at 30 June||1,794,800||2,358,107||3,294,425||+39.7|
|Percentage of customers registered at 30 June||15.6||19.8||27.1||+36.9|
|Mail house letters||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||% change since
|Correspondence or letters about special initiatives||6,524,954||1,625,704||1,658,1901||+2.0|
|Total mail house letters||130,644,795||92,719,932||82,115,117||-11.4|
- 1. Special initiatives include Schoolkids Bonus, Digital TV switchover and Age Pension mailout.
- 2. People who have an online mail preference can receive 4 types of Medicare letters and a ‘welcome’ letter in their myGov inbox.
- 3. The 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 figures represent total mail packs which include multiple individual items distributed through the department’s production centres.
|2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||% change since
|Total letters online||33,661,310||46,383,176||55,081,039||+18.8|
- 1. Medicare letters online commenced with the implementation of the myGov inbox on 29 March 2014.
|2012-13||2013-141||2014-15||% change since
- 1. Medicare and Child Support service SMS commenced with the implementation of the myGov inbox on 29 March 2014.
Access points and agents
Access points provide free self-help facilities where customers can conduct their business with the department. This includes services such as making phone calls to the department using fax, photocopying and internet facilities, and certifying proof of identity documents.
Agents are located in communities that need more than access point services. As well as providing the same facilities and services as an access point, an agent provides face-to-face information services and an internet-enabled computer and printer for customers to conduct their business. Agents also accept claim forms for lodgement and provide customers with assistance, guidance and referrals.
In 2014-15 we made more improvements to self-service facilities at identified agent sites through infrastructure upgrades. At 30 June 2015 the department had 238 access points and 350 agents throughout regional, rural and remote Australia compared to 232 access points and 347 agents in 2013-14.
The department continues to implement a one-stop shop approach to face-to-face service delivery. By providing more services under 1 roof, the department is better able to meet the needs of individual customers, and provide targeted assistance to customers with more complex needs.
At 30 June 2015 the department delivered the full range of its face-to-face services in 380 service centres compared to 431 service centres at 30 June 2014 as we continue to build sustainable, accessible and fit-for-purpose service centres that reduce the cost and duplication of service delivery. In total, there were more than 25,400,000 recorded visits to our service centres in 2014-15 compared to more than 26,500,000 in 2013-14.
Services provided in our service centres
Face-to-face services include transactional services, as well as specialist services available to assist customers with more complex needs. An increasingly large proportion of the department’s face-to-face service offer is about supporting customers in the use of the department’s online and mobile services.
Co-location with other organisations
The department continues to co-locate with other government agencies and with non-government organisations in service centres to broaden the range of services available in 1 site. For example, customers can access services in various locations around Australia from an increasing number of providers such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the National Disability Insurance Agency, and state and territory housing authorities.
Mobile service centres
The department has 3 mobile service centres, which travelled continually throughout regional and rural Australia in 2014-15. Priority was given to visiting communities that are greater than 50 kilometres from a service centre. Mobile service centre crews visited 607 towns of which 428 were greater than 50 kilometres from a service centre and helped over 13,000 people. This compares to 383 towns of which 268 were more than 50 kilometres from the service centre, helping over 9,800 people in 2013-14.
Mobile service centres assisted in the South Australian bushfires in January 2015, in the Tropical Cyclone Marcia response in Queensland in February and March 2015, and in the response to storms and flooding on the New South Wales east coast in April 2015. They spent 29 days in disaster-affected communities helping over 700 people.
Smart centres are a flexible way to deliver a range of phone and processing services. The smart centre approach is to resolve enquiries at the first point of contact whenever possible and promote the use of self-service options including Express Plus mobile apps and online services.
Smart centre activities are managed through a virtual network, providing Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare services to customers. Phone and processing services are delivered from many locations around Australia that form part of the virtual network.
The department traditionally experiences seasonal peak periods of demand from January-March and June-September each year, when increased workload is generated by:
- families income estimates
- families reconciliation
- updates to child care information
- assessing student eligibility for new and changed enrolments for the new academic year and second semester
- enquiries about the Medicare safety net and Medicare benefit tax statements
- child support enquiries about assessments for newly separated parents and assessments as a result of tax lodgements
- Schoolkids Bonus enquiries
Smart Centre capability was also stretched this year due to emergency responses for:
- South Australia bushfires in January 2015
- Tropical Cyclone Marcia in Queensland in February 2015
- Tropical Cyclone Lam in Queensland in February 2015
- Tropical Cyclone Olwyn in Western Australia in March 2015
- New South Wales east coast storms and flooding in April 2015
In 2014-15 the department handled 56,800,000 calls about Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare services compared to 59,500,000 in 2013-14.
The 2014-15 Portfolio Budget Statements outlined an average speed of answer and wait time key performance indicators for each of the programmes with the following targets:
- Social security and welfare programme:
- ≤16 minutes average speed of answer—telephony
- ≤15 minutes average wait time—face-to-face
- Health programme:
- ≤30 seconds average speed of answer—Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) authorities and eHealth providers telephony
- ≤2 minutes average speed of answer—providers telephony
- ≤7 minutes average speed of answer—customers telephony
- ≤15 minutes average wait time—face-to-face
- Child Support Programme
- ≤3 minutes average speed of answer—telephony
The average length of time a customer waited for their call to be answered in 2014-15 was:
- 15 minutes and 40 seconds for social security and welfare services
- 25 seconds for PBS authorities and eHealth providers
- 1 minute and 25 seconds for health services (provider)
- 5 minutes and 10 seconds for health services (customer)
- 2 minutes and 33 seconds for child support services
The 2013-14 Portfolio Budget Statements outlined an average speed of answer and wait time key performance indicators with the targets of ≤16 minutes for service users (that is, customers—telephony channel). Due to the changes in the Portfolio Budget Statements reporting requirements for 2014-15, comparisons to the previous financial year’s results are not possible.
The department continues to focus on improving the customer experience by simplifying and automating many of the department’s telecommunication systems. This includes improvements to:
- interactive voice response systems, based on the latest technology and customer feedback
- the ‘place in queue’ call back system, which reduces the time customers spend waiting to talk to a Service Officer
- voice recognition and authentication applications, to simplify self-service registration and identification processes, removing the need for customers to repeat complex personal registration details during each contact
See Appendix E on page 264 for information about an ANAO report on Management of Smart Centres’ Centrelink Telephone Services.
National Job Seeker Claims Network
The National Job Seeker Claims Network (NJCN) is part of the smart centre network. It aims to maximise and streamline Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (job seeker) new claim finalisations, eliminating the need for customers to attend an interview to make a claim in person. In 2014-15 further improvements to streamline the new claim process for job seekers were introduced, including:
- the rollout of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (job seeker) online claims across the NJCN. Customers who are in severe financial hardship or who are not capable of completing an online claim are referred to their local service centre for assistance
- improvements to online services enabling customers to book and reschedule phone appointments to discuss their participation requirements and, when possible, have their claim finalised. This appointment is generally within 2 working days
- use of the Document Lodgement Service to enable uploading of required documents to support their online claim, including information from third parties
Multilingual smart centre services
Smart centres provide multilingual phone services to customers in languages other than English. Bilingual Service Officers can finalise most of a customer’s business in a single phone call either directly or with support from interpreters. In 2014-15 Service Officers on the multilingual lines answered more than 713,000 calls compared to more than 829,000 calls in 2013-14.
Rural smart centre services
Smart centres provide a rural phone service, designed specifically to meet the needs of customers in rural and remote communities. Service Officers handle both calls and processing of Farm Household Allowance claims, drawing on their knowledge of local rural issues. Service Officers can also assist with the impact of geographic isolation and changing circumstances such as drought or flood for farmers and their families. In 2014-15 more than 193,000 calls were answered in rural smart centres compared to more than 246,000 calls in 2013-14.
Indigenous smart centre services
The Remote Smart Centre delivers phone services to Indigenous Australians, which include advice about Indigenous-specific payments. Service Officers can respond to calls from Indigenous customers, as well as from agents acting on their behalf in remote areas. The most common questions are about ABSTUDY, Indigenous services, Income Management and the BasicsCard.
In 2014-15, 2,800,000 calls were answered about Indigenous issues and Income Management compared to 2,200,000 calls in 2013-14.
In March 2015 the department started to have regular meetings with schools which have ABSTUDY students. The meetings focus on working collaboratively with schools on how to improve end-to-end ABSTUDY processes, information sharing and the best way to share our Remote Servicing Team visiting schedules with schools and communities.
Child support smart centre services
The department delivers most of its child support services to customers over the phone, in many cases finalising processing in real time. In 2014-15 we:
- received 2,300,000 calls about child support from separating or separated parents compared to 2,600,000 in 2013-14
- processed 18,092 requests for a change of assessment compared to 18,169 in 2013-14
Health and other small business phone services
The department provides phone services for health and other programmes to health professionals, aged care organisations, and small businesses. During 2014-15 these services covered Medicare, the PBS, specialised health and medical services, aged care, and the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House. In 2014-15 these phone services handled 14,500,000 calls compared to 13,800,000 in 2013-14.