The Department of Human Services touches the lives of almost every Australian through the delivery of health and welfare payments and services.
In 2014-15, we managed 123.9 million self-service transactions, took 56.8 million phone calls, and had 25.4 million visits to our shopfronts.
Our ability to keep providing quality services while continuously improving the way they are delivered is crucial to our future success. This has been a key focus since Service Delivery Reform (SDR) began in 2011 and will continue to be so through the next phase of the department’s ongoing transformation.
Government Outcomes, Customer Outcomes
This year the department successfully delivered $165.8 billion in payments to customers and providers—around 40% of government spending. We managed a strong compliance programme, and met 27 of our 32 key performance indicators.
We are aware of the need to improve performance in areas under pressure. While our call wait time target for social security and welfare phone services was met, we are determined to improve by further simplifying and automating our services.
During the year, the department prepared for and delivered measures from the 2014-15 Budget passed by Parliament. These included changes to the Disability Support Pension, support to drought-affected farmers and stronger compliance arrangements for job seekers. We also implemented family payment reform, increased the age of eligibility for Newstart and Sickness Allowances, and introduced Support Services and Mutual Obligation Arrangements in accordance with the decisions of Parliament.
With a proud record of over 70 years of service, CRS Australia ceased all operations in February 2015. This followed a government decision to reallocate the market share of the department’s disability employment services to non-government providers. Around 21,000 participants were transitioned to new providers, and over 1,000 staff were redeployed within the department.
The department maintained its record of sound financial stewardship. In 2014-15 the department had an operating surplus of $65.8 million before unfunded depreciation and revaluations, compared with a surplus of $132.6 million in 2013-14.
We drew on our emergency management capabilities to help people and communities hit by natural disasters. Our Emergency Reserve members and mobile service centre teams worked alongside others in the aftermath of the South Australian bushfires, Tropical Cyclone Marcia in Queensland, Tropical Cyclone Lam in the Northern Territory, Tropical Cyclone Olwyn in Western Australia, and storms and flooding in New South Wales.
Our mobile service centres visited 607 towns, travelling more than 110,000 kilometres and helping over 13,000 people.
This year saw the conclusion of the multi-year SDR programme. It was a $1.25 billion transformation programme, motivated by the need to transform the way Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support services were delivered. Through SDR, significant improvements and efficiencies have been achieved for customers, staff, the department and the Australian Government.
Our achievements include more one-stop shops with co-located services, a single website, extra self-service options, and Smart Centre processing—leading to better support for people based on their individual circumstances. Through SDR we have created a solid foundation on which we can build future service delivery.
During 2014-15 we continued to develop the myGov digital service. Eight government services participated in myGov, providing Australians with secure and easy access to a range of online transactions, a secure digital inbox, and the ability to automatically notify member services of updates to their address details. The number of people using myGov grew during the year, with over 7 million active accounts at 30 June 2015.
We have also expanded our myGov shopfronts, bringing the number to 4—in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney—with others opening in Albury and Melbourne soon.
Our people and our collaborative culture
In times of change, we are equipping our people with the skills and confidence needed to do their jobs. Jobs in the department have changed and will continue to evolve, especially as our transformation progresses.
We are proud of our record on workplace diversity. We operate in all corners of Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now account for 4% of our staff and we are well on track to reach our 5% Indigenous employment target by 2017. Our new Reconciliation Action Plan has received Reconciliation Australia’s rare ‘elevate’ classification.
We also employ over 1,500 staff who identify as having disability, and more than 8,000 staff who come from non-English speaking backgrounds. Around 71% of our workforce is female.
The department is strengthening our culture, based on the theme of ‘We’. The ‘We’ campaign emphasises the department’s role as the face of Australian Government services, and sets the standard for staff behaviours which drive the resilience, positive energy and performance needed to deliver our services.
Building on our strong performance in service delivery and transformation, we will continue to modernise the way we provide services. As in recent years, rapid advances in technology and in government and community expectations will reshape the way we work and how customers interact with us. We must keep our focus on making people’s interactions with us simpler.
The Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) programme will replace our ageing welfare payment ICT system and is a key enabler for eGovernment. It gives us the opportunity to re-engineer our business and better connect customers to services. While we implement WPIT and transform our services, we must keep on meeting the expectations of government and our customers. Millions of people rely on us to do our jobs every day, and to do them well.
We must also continue to support people in our community who are the most vulnerable. This includes through the department’s Family and Domestic Violence Strategy—‘it’s time to say enough’. The strategy aims to ensure that customers and staff faced with family and domestic violence are identified and receive the support they need, such as payments, support services and referrals to other assistance.
We are the face of Australian Government services and we are working hard to meet future service delivery challenges. We will work with our customers and build our talented and committed workforce as we continue to pursue our vision of ‘excellence in the provision of government services to every Australian’.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff of the department for their hard work and commitment during the year. I look forward to working with them again in the coming year.
Kathryn Campbell, CSC
Department of Human Services