Annual Report 2016-17

Service commitments and feedback

Our service commitments

Our service commitments are a public expression of the department's vision of delivering excellent services to the Australian people while delivering on the outcomes and expectations of government. They include:

  • what people can expect from the department under the four themes of Respect, Quality Information, Honesty and Integrity, and Efficiency
  • our business improvement priorities such as designing products and services that take people's feedback into account
  • what people can do to help the department such as providing complete, accurate and timely information about their circumstances and treating staff with courtesy
  • how people can offer feedback about service delivery and have complaints resolved.

Our service commitments underpin the department's business priorities.

Performance summary against service commitments

Following is an overview of the department's performance against each of the four service commitment themes. The results are derived from a survey conducted throughout 2016-17 that drew on each respondent's most recent interaction with Centrelink and Medicare services. Results were calculated on the basis of respondent's ratings. Respondents who did not answer or indicated 'don't know' or 'not applicable' were removed from the calculation of results.

The department has an ongoing focus on improving the way it delivers its services in line with the expectations of the Australian community. There has been an improvement in results against all four of the service commitment themes in 2016-17.

Respect: We will listen and work with you to understand your individual and cultural needs-measured by people's assessment of staff behaviour.

  • 91.0 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services agreed that staff treated them with respect and 77.7 per cent agreed that staff took into account their individual circumstances
  • 93.3 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services agreed that staff treated them with respect and 85.6 per cent agreed that staff took into account their individual circumstances.

Quality information: We are committed to providing consistent and accurate information-measured by people's assessment of the consistency and accuracy of information.

  • 79.7 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services agreed that staff had told them everything they had to do to get the service and 80.5 per cent agreed that they were given accurate information
  • 74.9 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services agreed that staff gave them information that was consistent with what they had already heard or read
  • 89.2 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services agreed that staff had told them everything they had to do to get the service and 91.7 per cent agreed that they were given accurate information
  • 86.5 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services agreed that staff gave them information that was consistent with what they had already heard or read.

Honesty and integrity: We will be open and honest and follow through on our commitments-measured by people's assessment of information that is clear and easy to understand and of overall satisfaction.

  • 81.8 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services agreed that staff gave them information that was clear and easy to understand
  • 69.2 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services were satisfied
  • 89.7 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services agreed that staff gave them information that was clear and easy to understand
  • 78.5 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services were satisfied.

Efficiency: We will simplify the way we deliver services to you-measured by people's assessment of staff promptness and efficiency.

  • 77.3 per cent of people surveyed about Centrelink services said that staff were prompt and efficient
  • 84.9 per cent of people surveyed about Medicare services said that staff were prompt and efficient.

Satisfaction Survey Program

The Transactional Survey targets a random selection of people who have recently contacted the department and measures their satisfaction with the most recent transaction.

In 2016-17 the Relationship Survey measured people's general perceptions of the department.

The Health Provider Survey gauges satisfaction with departmental services from health professionals, including pharmacists, general practitioners and practice managers.

Every two years, an International Services Survey is conducted to measure the satisfaction of services provided to people residing overseas.

Table: Summary of the department's satisfaction survey activities

Survey title

Target audience(s) and sample size

Summary of findings 2015-16

Summary of findings 2016-17

Transactional Survey (a)

Targets a random selection of current service users who have recently interacted with the department.
Measures people's perceptions of the quality of service they received.
In 2016-17 about 33,017 surveys were completed through phone interviews and 1,567 surveys were completed through integrated voice response

Satisfaction with:

  • Centrelink services at 68.1%(b)
  • Medicare services at 80.9%(b)
  • Child Support services at 75.6%(c)

Satisfaction with:

  • Centrelink services at 69.5%(b)
  • Medicare services at 81.7%(b)
  • Child Support services at 84.9%

Relationship Survey

Targets service users who have had specified interactions with the department in the previous 12 months.
Measures people's general perceptions of the department.
The survey was conducted across May and June 2017 with 1,025 surveys completed

Satisfaction with:

  • Centrelink at 51%
  • Medicare at 73%
  • Child Support at 49%

Satisfaction with:

  • Centrelink at 50%
  • Medicare at 71%
  • Child Support at 46%

Health Provider Survey

Targets a random selection of healthcare providers who have interacted with the department in the previous 12 months.
Runs once a year and approximately 1,595 surveys were completed in 2016-17

  • Not comparable(d)

The percentage of health providers indicating they were satisfied or neutral with the services provided by the department:

  • 94% for pharmacists
  • 89% for practitioners
  • 82% for practice managers

International Services Survey

Targets 200 customers residing overseas who had an interaction with the department in the past 12 months.
Measures customer satisfaction with the services provided by the department's International Services conducted once every two years

Overall satisfaction with the services provided by the department's International Services in 2014-15 was 80%

Overall satisfaction with the services provided by the department's International Services in 2016-17 was 77%

  1. In 2016-17 there was a change to the approach used for calculating results from the transactional survey. The calculation is an average of all responses (grouped into drivers) rather than from the response to a single 'overall' question.
  2. Results updated to reflect the calculation changes.
  3. Results could not be updated to reflect calculation changes, so 2016-17 results cannot be compared with previous years.
  4. In 2016-17 there was a change to the survey response scale (from a 0-10 to a 1-5 scale) to provide alignment with the wider Satisfaction Research Program survey calculation methodology. This change in survey response scale (1-5), means this year results are not directly comparable with those calculated using the response scale (0-10) in previous years.

Feedback on department's services

The department is committed to delivering high quality services to the Australian people and values the feedback received as it helps improve our business processes and deliver better services.

The department is committed to ensuring that people are aware of their right to complain or provide feedback. Individuals can provide feedback in a variety of ways, including:

  • calling the feedback and complaints line
  • online via their myGov account
  • calling one of the international phone numbers if overseas-listed
  • by mail (no postage stamp required)
  • via the National Relay Service
  • speaking to a service officer at any service centre or on the phone.

The number of complaints about the department's services received in 2016-17 was 204,583, or 0.14 per cent of the more than 144.6 million transactions for the same period. The department handled 165,250 complaints at the first point of contact.

People are taking advantage of the department's online feedback form which was implemented to make it easier for them to provide feedback at a time that suits them. This has contributed to the rise in complaints recorded. The expanding use of social media has increased the awareness of the department's services. Some of this has also translated into higher levels of complaints.

In 2016-17 the number of compliments received by the department was 9,744. Of these 84 per cent were about the service provided by staff, 9 per cent about the department's programs, and 5.8 per cent about our products.

In 2016-17, 50.2 per cent of all feedback received was lodged online. This includes 30,909 or 33.9 per cent of Centrelink and Medicare complaints lodged outside business hours.

While an online feedback form is available, the department promotes the telephony channel where people can receive immediate assistance with a complaint during business hours.

The department actively encourages feedback and suggestions about programs, services and new initiatives. In 2016-17 the number of suggestions received by the department was 8,596.

Centrelink feedback

In 2016-17 the department recorded 184,553 feedback contacts about Centrelink services, of these 168,709 were complaints. The top three complaints by volume were:

  • dissatisfaction with a claim, application or assessment process, including waiting too long, not updated on progress and multiple contacts to progress (28.2 per cent). Even though most Centrelink claims are processed in under 35 days, in some cases it may take longer, as the department must consider all relevant information when processing claims and on occasion this results in people complaining about the process or delay. Age Pension claims generally take longer to process as the department has to assess often complex income and asset information.
  • dissatisfaction with a decision, outcome or payment, including a payment not being received, a cancellation or suspension and waiting too long (25.2 per cent)
  • difficulties with phone services, including complaints about hold wait times, engaged signals and call disconnections (16.2 per cent). At certain times on certain days the department's telephone lines experience peak periods and some people experience a longer wait and provide the department with feedback on their experiences.

The department resolved 71 per cent of Centrelink complaints within ten working days.

Medicare feedback

In 2016-17 the department recorded 18,194 feedback contacts about Medicare services. The top three complaints by volume were:

  • dissatisfaction with a claim, application or assessment process, including information that was incorrect, waiting too long and requests for information (32.8 per cent)
  • difficulties with digital services, including inability to access, not being user friendly and the item number being unavailable for online claiming (19.5 per cent)
  • dissatisfaction with a decision, outcome or payment, including a payment not being received, personal information that was incorrect and the rejection of an application or claim (16.8 per cent).

The department resolved 74 per cent of Medicare complaints within 10 working days.

Child Support feedback

In 2016-17 the department recorded 20,176 feedback contacts about Child Support services. The top three complaints by volume were:

  • collection, including lack of collection, account balance and employer withholding (31.6 per cent)
  • quality of service, including advice, lack of courtesy and inaction (30.4 per cent)
  • assessment, including income used, care and change of assessment (23.1 per cent)

The department resolved 79.3 per cent of Child Support complaints within ten working days.

Responses to complaints and feedback

The department welcomes the opportunity to work with the service users and respond to their feedback, compliments and suggestions.
The department regularly examines information from complaints and feedback as part of a continuous improvement process to identify potential systemic issues and ensure improvements are implemented and monitored.

Complaints and feedback are used to develop and improve training products, staff procedural information and communication products. For example, during the year a series of toolkits were presented by leaders in monthly team meetings. These toolkits helped to develop a sounder understanding of a user's experience with a service and improved staff skills when assisting vulnerable people.

Comprehensive training and guidance materials covering all aspects of complaints management are available to staff. In July 2016 the department used feedback from staff to improve the usability and performance of its complaints handling database and increase recording of complaints in frontline service channels.

Community engagement-groups and advisory forums

National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN)

The National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN), previously known as the National Welfare Rights Network, includes 16 community legal services specialising in social security and family assistance law and its administration by the department.

Member organisations assist individual clients, conduct training for community workers, and produce publications to assist social security recipients and community organisations to understand the system. At twice-yearly meetings with the department, information and ideas are exchanged on a range of issues.

Multicultural advisory forums and committees

The department has partnerships with an extensive range of stakeholders from community and government organisations across all levels of government that work on issues relating to service delivery for people from CALD backgrounds.

The National Multicultural Advisory Group includes members from non-government organisations and peak bodies representing CALD communities. The group provides advice and feedback about the quality and effectiveness of the department's service delivery to multicultural people. The annual face-to-face meeting was held in August 2016, with follow up meetings held in November 2016 and March 2017. Issues discussed in the follow up meetings included digital transformation, Medicare issues for refugees and challenges and opportunities for multicultural servicing.

The department also convenes multicultural advisory committees and forums to consult regularly with multicultural communities at local, state and territory levels. These committees and forums operate in areas with high multicultural populations such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Launceston and Perth. The forums and committees ensure communities know about the department's programs, services and new initiatives. In 2016-17 issues raised included employment pathways for migrant and refugees, general settlement services for refugees-in particular, the increased number of refugees from Syria and Iraq, and digital engagement for CALD users.

Older Australians Working Group

The department met with the Older Australians Working Group in November 2016. The group has representatives from peak organisations and other groups, and allows the department to showcase service delivery developments. The group offers feedback on current and potential effects of service delivery on older people. The group discussed topics including changes to means testing, grandparent carers and WPIT.

Stakeholder Consultative Group

The Stakeholder Consultative Group is the department's peak stakeholder consultation forum on health issues.

It includes representatives and professionals from consumer, medical, allied health and pharmaceutical fields. The group provides advice on emerging strategic and operational matters as well as input into implementation of government measures such as red tape reduction. This helps improve the effectiveness of service delivery aspects of the health programs the department administers. The group met twice in 2016-17.

Page last updated: 14 November 2017