During the year the department continued to contribute to the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s digital transformation agenda.
Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation
The Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) Programme is a business-led, user-centered, technology-enabled transformation that will fundamentally transform the delivery of welfare payments and services.
It is an important long-term investment. It will allow the government to properly address the challenges facing Australia’s welfare system and maximise the benefits of digital capabilities while reducing the costs of administering payments.
The department’s transformed welfare system will be quicker and easier to navigate, providing seamless access to its face-to-face, phone and digital services.
The department is three years into a seven-year program of work.
In the 2016–17 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), the government invested $313.5 million net expenditure over four years for Tranche Two of the WPIT Programme. Tranche Two, which ran from 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2018, focused on developing new welfare payment processes and services for students, transforming how student payments will be administered and delivered in the future.
In Tranche Two the department developed the capability to automate the processing of student claims. This will mean faster and more consistent decisions on applications and more time available for staff to support customers with complex needs and circumstances.
Median time to process most student claims types is now less than three weeks. The new online claiming system tailors questions based on the student’s circumstances and reuses information that the department already holds. This has reduced the number of questions some students have to answer when they claim by almost 70 per cent, from 117 to 37. From August 2017 to 30 June 2018 over 13 per cent of all student claims were lodged via the reduced question set. In addition, all students can now inform Centrelink online about changes in their employment and can have their fortnightly income reporting automatically initiated. As at 30 June 2018, this online service had been used over 58,000 times since it was launched on 22 June 2017.
The program has successfully developed the capability to progressively automate the processing of student claims, meaning that some students will find out in near real time whether they will receive a payment.
The department is designing business processes enabled by technology to meet the needs of customers and government and to support welfare reform and broader service delivery transformation. This includes service delivery for job seekers, families, older Australians and people with a disability. Tranche Three started on 1 July 2018 and will build on and extend the capabilities developed during Tranche Two.
User-centred transforamtion of student payments
The department is progressively transforming its student payment systems by learning directly from real customers about how they use its services and redesigning those services around their needs. In 2017–18 this resulted in more than 45 online and behind-the-scenes improvements that made it easier for students to claim and manage their payments.
In March 2018 the multidisciplinary team driving this project—the Student Transformation Agile Release Train (START)—held two student engagement sessions in the department’s Brisbane Design Hub to gather insights from customers. Twenty-five students participated in a variety of visual activities to help design, test and validate changes being developed by the START team. At each session, they described their individual experiences of claiming student support payments.
Jenna told us how her experience of dealing with the department had changed following improvements like reducing the number of claim questions. Her original claim, in 2015, for Youth Allowance took four months to process and required several phone calls and visits to Centrelink. The inconvenience of having to supply multiple documents in hard copy turned to frustration when some of them were misplaced and she eventually had to resupply them. She received ‘ambiguous’ advice on how long her claim would take to process and had to follow up because the updates on progress were not clear. Overall, the whole experience was ‘quite painful’.
In contrast, when Jenna re-applied for Youth Allowance in January 2018 she was surprised by how easy it was to claim.
"It took me five minutes to put it all through. I think a lot of information was populated from my last claim, so I just had to put in my new course and my start and finish dates. I found out within a day that I had got the claim put through, so it was very good after my first experience."
Jenna is one of thousands of customers who have benefited from the department’s student payments transformation work.
Since establishing the Chief Citizen Experience Officer (CCXO) position in June 2017, the department has made good progress in adopting a customer-centric approach to designing and delivering services. Through design and innovation hubs the department is engaging directly with customers on key departmental and Australian Government priorities. More than 5000 customers had participated in this by the end of 2017–18. This behavioural and ethnographic research has created a rich library of insights for the department to use in new and ongoing projects to improve service delivery and policy design.
To continue on this successful path, the CCXO is leading the development of the department’s Citizen Experience Strategy. This will outline the department’s goals for delivering high-quality, consistent service experiences. The department will develop the strategy collaboratively with its customers; its staff at all levels, including the most senior leaders; and other stakeholders. To support the strategy, performance will be measured in a way that allows real-time tracking of service quality and identification and resolution of issues as they occur.
Chief Citizen Experience Officer
One of the department’s highest priorities is improving the experience customers have when they engage with us. By representing customers and making their voices heard throughout the department, the Chief Citizen Experience Officer (CCXO) is playing an influential role in reshaping the way the department delivers services.
This role involves communicating to all staff how important it is for us to engage directly with customers to gain a better understanding of their needs, their pain points and their experience of the department and its services. This knowledge helps improve existing services and create exemplary new ones through user-centred design processes.
At the same time, the department is transforming its approach to customer feedback. The department’s goal is to continually measure how customers use its services and what they think and feel about them, to hear their voices and to respond with actions that make their interactions with the department easier. The CCXO will shortly begin work on defining a ‘blueprint’ for the experience that the department wants its customers to be able to have.
Veteran Centric Reform
The department is working collaboratively with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to deliver stage 1 of the Veteran Centric Reform measure announced in the 2017–18 Budget.
Veteran Centric Reform is a comprehensive transformation program for DVA that puts veterans and their families at the centre of everything DVA does. The department is leveraging information and communications technology (ICT) capabilities developed through the WPIT Programme to help DVA build a modern ICT platform, starting with a focus on the DVA Education Assistance Scheme, and helping to build DVA’s service design, portfolio, project management and change management capabilities by sharing the department’s experience in transforming service delivery.
The department is working with DVA to shape service delivery pilots that will evaluate approaches to improving access to veteran services. This includes DVA’s redesign of claim processes. In 2017–18 the department helped to develop the MyService digital product, which is now enabling DVA to process claims more quickly. MyService, a redesign of DVA’s initial claim process, is a simpler way for customers to interact with DVA online.
The department undertook a range of health and aged care remediation activities in 2017–18 through the Modernising Health and Aged Care Payments Services Program led by the Department of Health. Remediation activities included essential system upgrades required to ensure the compliance, operational stability and availability of the department’s health and aged care payment systems. This work also included the development of strategies to improve health systems workforce capability.