Service delivery

Customers have a variety of ways to interact with the department.

How the department delivers payments and services

Customers have a variety of ways to interact with the department, including:

In 2017–18 the department continued to improve access to services as a key priority. The department has supplied free Wi‑Fi access to all of its service centres. Customers now have an additional way to transact and self‑manage. It is a service that meets customers’ needs and responds to the way that customers wish to interact with the department.

Also, in 2017–18 the department began to operate the Veterans’ Information Service under a revised Statement of Intent with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

Face‑to‑face

The department has a national network of 346 service centres. Of these, 341 are One‑stop Shops—places where customers can carry out their Centrelink and Medicare business under one roof. A further five are dedicated myGov shopfronts, which assist customers in accessing government online services.

The department has two Mobile Service Centres, which travel to regional and remote communities to provide Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support services to customers in those areas. The Mobile Service Centres also provide accessible support during emergency recovery efforts.

The department is also increasing the number of Agents and Access Points in rural and regional areas.

Service centres

One‑stop Shops

The department continues to expand on the success of the One‑stop Shop approach, which offers customers face‑to‑face Centrelink and Medicare services and supported digital services at a single physical location. One‑stop Shops make it easier and more convenient for customers to transact their business with the government.

The One‑stop Shop approach continues to build a sustainable, accessible and fit‑for‑purpose network of service centres and reduces the costs and duplication of service delivery. As a result, the department has more scope and capability to provide targeted assistance to customers with more complex circumstances who require more intensive services.

In 2017–18, the department’s focus remained on developing a more flexible and responsive service delivery network that better meets people’s needs and accommodates the shift to digital services.

As at 30 June 2018, customers made an average of over 70,000 service centre contacts each day. The Social Security and Welfare average wait time in service centres for 2017–18 was 14 minutes and 49 seconds, against a target of 15 minutes.

All staff in service centres provide face‑to‑face services to customers as well as undertaking processing work based on national priorities.

myGov shopfronts

myGov accounts give users secure and easy access to a range of government online services. Users have a secure digital Inbox to receive mail from participating member services. They can also update address details in one place and have that information automatically notified to participating member services, such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). All Australians have the option to sign up for a myGov account.

At myGov shopfronts, people are assisted in setting up and using their myGov account. They can also complete their government transactions either online or using a range of available government mobile apps on their own devices. Free Wi‑Fi is available in all myGov shopfronts and service centres.

Mobile Service Centres

The department has two Mobile Service Centres, Golden Wattle and Desert Rose, which travel to rural and regional communities to deliver the same Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services that are available at any other service centre in Australia.

Expanding mobile services in rural and remote areas

Just over 11 years ago the Australian Government’s first Mobile Service Centre—a converted red Winnebago—set off from Parliament House in Canberra. Its mission was to deliver on‑the‑ground income support services and access to drought relief measures to customers in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.

Today, the department operates two Mobile Service Centres: Golden Wattle and Desert Rose. Mobile Service Centres deliver the same Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services as those that are available at any of the department’s other service centres.

In 2017–18 the department began a trial to deliver Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) services through the department’s Mobile Service Centres. This is one of four trials in which the department is collaborating and sharing its expertise with DVA to help increase access to veterans’ services.

The trial helped to reach more veterans in regional and rural areas. The Mobile Service Centres visited 132 locations in the 2017–18 DVA pilot phase, and the DVA service offer will continue to be piloted in 2018–19.

Since the Mobile Service Centres first began to operate, they have covered more than 800,000 kilometres, helped nearly 140,000 people, visited more than 4,000 towns and provided vital support during 21 emergency recovery efforts.

In 2017–18 the two current Mobile Service Centres travelled continually throughout Australia, prioritising visits to communities that are more than 50 kilometres from a service centre. They visited 375 towns, of which 269 were more than 50 kilometres from a service centre, and helped more than 10,000 people. By comparison, in 2016–17 they visited 381 towns, of which 271 were more than 50 kilometres from a service centre, and provided services to over 11,000 people.

Agents and Access Points

Agents and Access Points help people in rural, regional and remote areas to access Centrelink, Medicare and other government services.

Agents help customers to conduct their business with the department using free self service facilities. They also offer face‑to‑face support for people who are using the department’s digital services.

Access Points provide customers with free self service facilities. They have phones for self service or calls to the department, as well as faxes, photocopiers and internet facilities. Staff at Access Points can copy and certify proof of identity documents.

At 30 June 2018, the department had 349 Agents and 238 Access Points throughout regional, rural and remote Australia (compared with 347 Agents and 239 Access Points in 2016–17).

Agents and Access Points have benefited from the Remote ICT Capability Enhancement (RICE) project, which is delivering a reliable, robust and consistent digital experience for remote customers, Agents and staff at Access Points. The project has increased the efficiency and accessibility of government services while improving staff, community and customer satisfaction.

Information services for veterans

The department now delivers the Veterans’ Information Service at 22 regional service centres—ten in New South Wales, four in Victoria, six in Queensland, one in South Australia and one in the Northern Territory.

The department is performing this role under a Statement of Intent with DVA.

Community Engagement Services were delivered in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, and Veterans’ Agent Services were delivered at four sites in South Australia and one on Norfolk Island. In addition, the department maintained three Veterans’ Information Kiosks in South Australia and delivered Assisted Services at two sites in Queensland.

The department and DVA continue to work in partnership on measures such as managed investments, welfare payments, Income Management, compliance and fraud initiatives, online concession entitlement confirmation and administration of the Defence Force Income Support Allowance.

Phone services

The department offers services to customers through ‘smart centres’, which provide an Australia‑wide telephony network service. The department is working hard to improve the Australian community’s access to telephone services. In 2017–18 the department undertook a comprehensive review of its telephone services.

Work is well underway on a major reconfiguration. During the year the department upskilled more than 3,300 call staff to better support the resolution of customer enquiries across the Centrelink main business line call queues. The department also reduced the number of Centrelink main business line call queues from 145 to eight.

The department’s call operation is the largest in size and most complex in the southern hemisphere. In 2017–18, it handled more than 48 million calls. Because of the scale of the service, improvements will need to be phased in progressively over the next 18 months.

Smart centres

Smart centres deliver Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support telephony and processing services. Smart centre staff 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.

Telephony and processing services are delivered from many locations around Australia that form a virtual network. Staff are also skilled in multiple areas and can be deployed based on demand.

The department traditionally experiences seasonal peak periods of demand from January to March and June to September each year, when an increased workload is generated by:

  • families income estimates
  • families reconciliation
  • updates to child care information
  • increased application volumes for issuance of provider location numbers
  • student eligibility assessments for new and changed enrolments for the new academic year and second semester
  • enquiries about Centrelink payments and Centrelink payment summaries
  • child support enquiries about assessments for newly separated parents and assessments as a result of tax lodgements.

Demand for Medicare provider registration peaks from November to March and for Medicare Entitlement Statements from June to October each year.

Multilingual smart centre services

Smart centres provide phone services to people in several languages other than English. Bilingual service officers can finalise most of a person’s business in a single phone call either directly or with support from interpreters.

In 2017–18 service officers on the multilingual lines answered more than 742,000 calls.

Rural smart centre services

Rural smart centres provide a rural phone service designed specifically to meet the needs of people living in rural and remote communities. Service officers draw on their knowledge of local rural issues and help to alleviate the effects of geographic isolation and changing circumstances, such as drought or flood, for farmers and their families.

In 2017–18 more than 127,000 calls were answered in rural smart centres, and more than 20,000 drought assistance calls were also answered in rural smart centres.

Remote smart centre services

Remote smart centres deliver phone services to Indigenous Australians, including advice about Indigenous‑specific payments. Service officers respond to calls from Indigenous people as well as from Agents acting on their behalf in remote areas.

In 2017–18 the department’s remote smart centres answered more than 2.9 million calls about Indigenous issues and Income Management.

Medicare smart centre services

Medicare smart centres provide telephony and processing services to members of the public and health providers for Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), aged care and a range of other health programs.

In 2017–18 more than 14.2 million telephone calls were handled and 617.6 million Medicare and PBS claim services were processed.

Child Support smart centre services

The department delivers most of its Child Support services to separated parents over the phone, in many cases finalising processing in real time. In 2017–18:

  • it received over 1.8 million calls about child support from separating or separated parents
  • it processed 19,022 requests for a change of assessment.

Smart centre service targets

The Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18 set targets for average speed of answer for each of the programs. The average length of time a person waited for their call to be answered in 2017–18 was:

  • 15 minutes and 58 seconds for social security and welfare services against a target of ≤16 minutes
  • 30 seconds for PBS authorities and eHealth providers against a target of ≤30 seconds
  • one minute 53 seconds for health services (provider) against a target of ≤ two minutes
  • six minutes 56 seconds for health services (recipient) against a target of ≤ seven minutes
  • nine minutes and five seconds for child support services against a target of ≤ three minutes.

Maximising access to the same‑sex marriage survey

The department’s remote servicing teams worked closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to help make participation in the same‑sex marriage postal survey in 2017 as broad as possible, regardless of location and circumstances. The department has previously worked with the AEC in similar ways.

The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey was the first survey of its kind in Australia and attracted worldwide attention. The survey form was distributed to individuals by post, to be returned during a fixed response period from September to November 2017. Responding was voluntary.

The challenge was to enable and encourage all voting‑age Australians, including those living in the most remote Indigenous communities, to have their say. To do this the department used its proven remote service strategy, which includes culturally appropriate community engagement activities and proactive engagement with community leaders and members. The high proportion of local Indigenous staff on the department’s remote servicing teams enables those teams to communicate in local languages and understand local customs, traditions and relationships.

Before and throughout the survey period, the department provided additional support to 35 communities across the Northern Territory, northern Queensland and Western Australia to engage them on the purpose of the survey and to support their participation. It also answered over 165,000 phone and email enquiries from the Australian community.

Australian Marriage Law Survey

In 2017 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) engaged the department to deliver services for the Australian Marriage Law Survey.

The department worked closely with the ABS to provide telephony services and assistance with its remote strategies to help implement the postal survey.

The department answered 157,814 calls on behalf of the ABS and answered 7,351 email enquiries.

Health and aged care phone services

The department offers a range of phone services to customers, including Medicare eligibility, Medicare claiming and benefits and Medicare Safety Net services. In 2017–18 these phone services handled almost 2.6 million calls.

In addition, the department has specific phone services for health professionals, aged care organisations and small businesses. During the year these services included Medicare, PBS, specialised health and medical services and aged care provider payments. In 2017–18 these phone services handled more than 14.2 million calls.

Online

Customer expectations about being able to access services through digital channels on any device are increasing rapidly.

The department offers its customers a range of ways to access its services and complete claims and tasks online. Customers can:

  • submit an increasing number of claims online through myGov
  • report employment income
  • check payments and submit claims using mobile apps
  • receive electronic correspondence from the department
  • submit documents online, safely and securely
  • make changes to personal details and circumstances
  • complete income stream reviews online
  • access Centrelink Confirmation eServices
  • complete forms online.

In addition, health professionals can access a range of health‑related programs and online services through the HPOS—97.9% of all Medicare services are now claimed online at the point of service.

In 2017–18, over 80% of claims submitted to the department for Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit, Parenting Payment, Parental Leave Pay, Dad and Partner Pay, Age Pension, Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Sickness Allowance, Carer Payment, Carer Allowance and Mobility Allowance were submitted online.

The Payment and Service Finder, released in June 2017, combines three existing online services—Payment Finder, Service Finder and rate estimator—into one service. By combining the three existing services, the department has made it simpler for users to find the information they need. The service allows users to find payments and services they may be eligible for based on their circumstances. It also provides the ability to complete ‘what if’ scenarios to help them identify potential service offers that may be available to them. Existing claimants can use the service to work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services they currently receive from the department.

The Payment and Service Finder is used over 61 300 times a week. Since July 2017, it has been used nearly 3.2 million times.

myGov

The myGov online service is a convenient and secure way to access multiple Australian Government services using a single logon and password.

The myGov digital service is a great example of how the government is using technology to help Australians connect with the services they need. A myGov account offers people a simple and secure way to access government online services, including:

  • Australian JobSearch
  • ATO
  • Centrelink
  • Child Support
  • DVA
  • Medicare
  • My Aged Care
  • My Health Record
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Victorian Housing Register Application.

Users have a secure digital Inbox to receive mail from participating member services. They can also update address details in one place and have that information automatically notified to participating member services, such as the ATO.

myGov allows people to undertake a variety of types of business—for example, looking for lost superannuation, submitting their income tax returns and claiming payments at a time and place that suits them.

In 2017–18, myGov services were available 99.9% of the year, exceeding the target of 99.5% availability.

There were approximately 355,000 logons to myGov every day, an increase of 34% from the 2016–17 financial year.

The myGov digital service underwent significant modernisation in the 2016–17 financial year. Ongoing and regular improvements continued to be made in 2017–18.

In October 2017 a service was implemented that allows myGov member services to overlay their own mobile apps with the myGov authentication service. Centrelink was the first member service to use this, with other member services set to follow.

Customers from a participating member service or agency can access their online account using that agency’s app and link it to their myGov account. Once they are linked and their four‑digit myGov personal identification number (PIN) is established, customers can sign in to the relevant online account (for example, the Centrelink Express Plus app) by simply entering their myGov PIN into the app. This authentication flow is known as the Mobile Authentication Pattern.

In December 2017 the mobile app ‘myGov Access’ was released to support authentication to myGov. myGov Access provides a security code for myGov users who choose to use two‑factor authentication for myGov. After the initial set‑up, myGov Access does not require an internet connection. This means it has significant value to customers travelling overseas or in rural or remote areas, where mobile phone use for SMS‑based two‑factor authentication can be a problem.

All design decisions are made with myGov users in mind and, as such, additional improvements are continuously being worked on. For example, the department is currently working on a myGov Virtual Assistant.

myGov is now one of the biggest digital services in Australia, with over 13 million accounts.

Express Plus mobile apps

The department’s free Express Plus mobile apps continue to be a popular and convenient way for people to engage with government services. The apps can be downloaded onto mobile phones and tablets, giving customers access to services anywhere and at any time. For example, using mobile apps, customers can upload documents, report income, claim Medicare benefits, view child support account balances and access a range of other services.

Customers have downloaded the apps more than 13.2 million times since they were introduced in 2012. In 2017–18 over 2.6 million apps were downloaded (an average of just over 7,300 downloads per day).

Electronic messaging

The department continues to use electronic messaging (SMS and email) to communicate with customers. The department uses this technology to send personalised messages to customers based on their circumstances. This helps to reduce the number of letters the department mails—see Tables 1 and 2.

In 2017–18 the department ran five pilots measuring the effectiveness of SMS in communicating with customers. Pilots included sending messages to reduce inbound calls, improve compliance and increase reporting. These pilots have demonstrated that SMS is an effective tool for making positive changes to customer behaviour.

The reduction in SMS and email from the 2015–16 financial year to the last two financial years is a result of the transitioning of Centrelink Online Letters to the myGov platform. With this transition to myGov the emails and SMS ‘you’ve got mail’ notifications are sent from myGov.

Table 1: SMS messages sent by the department

SMS

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

% change since 2016–17

Total SMS

29,029,960

20,688,141

19,488,620

–5.8

Table 2: System‑generated email messages sent by the department

Email

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

% change since 2016–17

Total email

19,837,060

5,854,043

5,041,647

–13.9

Personal details and circumstance updates

For the department to provide effective services, it is important that customers are aware of information that affects them. Customers must also keep their information on their circumstances and personal details up to date. This process has now been made easier through myGov and the Express Plus mobile apps and enhancements to online services.

Customers can now view more of their details on the landing page of their online account. For example, they can see the status of their online claims, reminders, and when and what their next payment will be. This reduces the number of steps required to check this information. The enhancements also make it easier for customers to access their information when using the apps.

To receive the correct payments, Centrelink customers need to keep their personal details up to date. This has also been made easier with myGov and mobile apps. Customers can view and update a range of personal details as well as notify changes in circumstances online or via mobile apps. For example, customers can check details like address and accommodation, income and assets (including savings, shares, real estate, managed investments, gifts, foreign income and assets, and other income), study, overseas travel and bank account details to receive payments. Customers can also report employment income, request a document and claim advance payments online.

In 2017–18, customers undertook over 49.1 million interactions online, via phone self service and using Express Plus mobile apps.

Online Income Stream Reviews

The Income Stream Review (ISR) service allows customers receiving means‑tested income support payments to provide information requested during the August and February ISRs.

Certain customers must complete ISRs, including where:

  • the customer or their partner has an account‑based income stream that is not paid from a Self‑Managed Super Fund (SMSF) or Small APRA Superannuation Fund (SAF) and is not updated automatically via data supplied electronically by the providers
  • the customer or their partner has an account‑based income stream product or an asset test exempt lifetime or life expectancy product that is sourced from an SMSF or SAF. This review includes account‑based products as well as an actuarial certificate
  • the customer or their partner has an account‑based income stream or a market‑linked income stream that is not paid from an SMSF or SAF and is not updated automatically via data supplied electronically by the providers.

The department offers an online service for those who are required to undergo ISRs. People can either access their online account or use a one‑time access code to complete the review.

Customers can also authorise third‑party providers, such as financial planners, to use their one‑time access code to complete the reviews on their behalf.

During the six‑monthly reviews, more older Australians chose to complete their reviews online. Approximately 84% of people completed their reviews online compared with 80% in the previous financial year.

Centrelink Confirmation eServices

Sometimes businesses and organisations—for example, utility providers, local councils, housing providers, financial planners and superannuation funds—need information from the department to determine a person’s eligibility to receive a concession, rebate or service they provide.

The department’s online Centrelink Confirmation eServices allows approved businesses and organisations to confirm that a person is entitled to a concession or rebate, obtain income and asset information or help with determining eligibility for the early release of superannuation due to financial hardship. With the person’s consent, businesses and organisations can electronically:

  • confirm that a customer is eligible to receive a concession, rebate or service (Customer Confirmation)
  • confirm the customer’s income, assets and payment details (Income Confirmation)
  • confirm whether superannuation can be released early due to financial hardship (Superannuation Confirmation).

In 2017–18 there were 95.1 million Centrelink Confirmation eServices transactions.

In 2016-17 additional information was moved to the online service landing page for Centrelink, reducing the need for customers to navigate within the site.

The department previously counted these navigations as an online transaction. As customers can now access this information without taking any additional actions, those transactions no longer occur.

Table 3: Digital and online services
 

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

Centrelink

Self service transactionsSee footnote(a) (b)

51.1 million

53.7 million

49.1 million

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)See footnote(c)

43.0 million

44.7 million

46.5 million

Medicare

Self service transactionsSee footnote(d)

9.4 million

13.3 million

22.9 million

Provider ‘point of service’ digital transactionsSee footnote(e)

588.0 million

594.1 million

617.4 million

Child Support

Self service transactionsSee footnote(f) (g)

890 000

835 000

858 000

  1. Due to enhancements of online services Centrelink recipients now view more of their details on the landing page once entering their online account.
  2. The number of self service transactions for 2015–16 does not include transactions that are no longer required because the data is available on the landing page.
  3. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a Centrelink digital transaction for businesses and organisations providing the department data electronically.
  4. Claim Medicare Benefits Online (CMBO) transactions were included in this entry for the first time in 2016–17 (0.1 million transactions). The figure from 2015–16 was 0.2 million transactions.
  5. Point of service digital transactions include PBS Online, online bulk billing, Easyclaim, Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and Electronic Claim Lodgement and Information Processing Service Environment (ECLIPSE).
  6. From 2015–16 Child Support ‘self service transactions’ data included phone self service transactions.
  7. From 2017–18 Child Support ‘self service transactions’ data included online registrations transactions.

Health Professional Online Services

HPOS, established in 2009, offers health professionals a single entry point and real‑time access to a range of health‑related programs and online services.

To prevent loss, disclosure, modification or unauthorised use of customer information, HPOS is accessed via the PRODA online authentication system—a robust yet flexible identity verifying and open source authentication service which replaces the legacy hardware and software authentication types with a two‑step username and password combined with a single‑use verification code.

In 2017–18 the department added several functions to HPOS, which included:

  • introducing a new online forms upload facility and increasing the number of forms that can be submitted through HPOS—this has made it easier for health professionals to complete and electronically submit forms directly to the department
  • introducing the Health Care Homes service, which enables practices to register patients and receive monthly bundled payments to cover the costs of care for enrolled patients
  • streamlining DVA web claiming by merging the DVA Medical and the DVA Allied Health web claim functions
  • developing an online file upload service that enables Medical Indemnity Insurers, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to electronically submit registration and payment applications.

As a result of these improvements in functionality, over the past 12 months there has been a significant increase in the use of HPOS.

Table 4: Access to HPOS services
 

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

UsersSee footnote(a)

209,307

n/a

n/a

LogonsSee footnote(b)

n/a

163,082

193,584

Accesses to HPOSSee footnote(c)

3,929,685

4,825,438

6,110,054

  1. Both 2014–15 and 2015–16 Annual Reports showed the number of HPOS users. However, the calculation method used to derive those figures did not accurately reflect the number of unique users of the system. This calculation method is no longer used.
  2. This figure (not published in previous years) represents the number of active PKI and PRODA logons, noting that providers may have more than one logon.
  3. A correction has been made to the 2016–17 figure for Accesses to HPOS. A calculation error occurred during the previous financial year resulting in a 0.06% underestimate in this figure in the previous annual report.

Improving Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme access for health professionals

In the past year, the department continued to make it easier for health professionals to deal with the department on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) matters and access services.

The Australian Government subsidises a wide range of prescription medicines through the PBS to make them more affordable. The department administers the PBS, ensuring prescribers meet the requirements under the scheme and patients have timely access to PBS subsidised medicines.

In 2018 the department continued to make the PBS more accessible and user friendly. For example, the department integrated three separate prescription forms used by doctors, optometrists and midwives into a single form, creating a more efficient process for health professionals.

The department set up a system enabling prescribers to lodge their orders for PBS stationery with the department electronically, by email or through the Health Professional Online Services portal. The department confirms these orders by emailing a receipt with parcel tracking details so that prescribers can monitor progress.

The department also introduced an option to request online approvals of PBS paediatric growth hormone prescriptions instead of mailing applications for processing. The online system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides a real‑time result.

These are major steps to reduce the administrative burden on health professionals, saving time that they can instead use for their patients.

Letters and forms

Customers can receive letters online through their myGov Inbox or have a hard copy posted to their mailing address. Customers who receive letters online are sent an SMS or email to let them know that they have a new letter in their Inbox.

The department promotes letters online as a convenient digital service that supports customers who are managing their interactions with the department through an integrated and secure digital channel. The department continues to encourage people to receive their letters online rather than have them sent in hard copy to their mailing address—see Table 5. Letters sent online arrive in a customer’s Inbox faster than through the post and are archived within their online account for two years. Online letters help to reduce the number of letters mailed and therefore reduce the department’s paper and postage costs.

In 2017–18 the department sent 62,022,682 letters online compared with 58,849,861 in 2016–17—see Table 6. The number of letters sent through the mail house decreased from 64,540,125 in 2016–17 to 52,110,062 in 2017–18.

The department also continues to review the content of letters and forms to ensure customers can readily understand them. The department applies plain language principles to its materials so that they are expressed in a simple, clear and readable way. The department uses literacy measurements, user testing and controlled trials to measure the readability of written materials.

The department offers customers printable and downloadable claim forms (where the customer prints the form, fills it in by hand and posts it to us) as well as online claim forms (where the customer fills in the form directly online without having to print and send the form). However, online claim forms are convenient and easy to access; therefore, they are becoming more popular.

The number of forms printed and distributed by the department has reduced from 12,175,450 in 2016–17 to 7,505,672 in 2017–18. This is because online claims and digital forms are more available to customers and can be submitted through digital channels. Aligning with the digital strategy, the department continues to work to rationalise the number of forms, including through use of alternative avenues for information collection.

Table 5: Registrations for social welfare service online letters
 

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

Registrations

1,405,301

1,137,392

1,492,488

Registered at 30 June

4,178,562

4,891,550

6,004,748

Percentage registered at 30 June

35.9

42.7

53.3

Table 6: Number of online letters
 

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

% change since 2016–17

Centrelink

47,073,502

50,246,219

54,085,586

+7.6

Medicare

3,670,957

4,794,806

3,773,746

–21.3

Child Support

3,532,567

3,808,836

4,163,350

+9.3

Total letters online

54,277,026

58,849,861

62,022,682

+5.4

Electronic document scanning

Customer information and correspondence lodged with the department is electronically scanned and stored. The department also encourages customers to upload their own documents through self service channels, ensuring that the information is automatically attached to their record. This provides increased accessibility and flexibility for both customers and staff, enabling staff anywhere in Australia to access the information quickly.

A change was implemented in May 2018 to make Customer Reference Number entry mandatory when scanning documents at the department’s service centres (accounting for a little over 40% of digital images). This change is increasing the number of images that are automatically classified, reducing the time it takes for the image to be available on the customer record.

Social media

The Australian community expects Australian Government departments to use modern channels to make it easier for community members to engage with them. In line with that expectation, in 2017–18 the department’s social media capability continued to grow.

The department reached a combined annual audience of 21.74 million with service delivery messages. The department received 135,592 posts via social media accounts and responded to 61,087 questions. In peak periods the department averaged 26,965 incoming social media posts and 11,508 responses per month, many of which addressed multiple posts.

A list of all social media accounts can be found on our website.

Page last updated: 1 July 2019