Chapter 5 Developing a networked organisation > Developing a networked organisation Top level result Centrelink has been at the forefront in providing innovative solutions for cit izens, enabling closer access to Australian Govern ment services. Part icularly in times of emergency response situations Centrelink has forged strong relationships with other Depart ment of Hu man Services’ agencies. Highlights for 2006–07 • Centrelink worked collaboratively with state and federal govern ment departments providing assistance to the Australian public during times of natural disaster such as floods in the Hunter and Cen tral Coast areas, bushfires in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia and fo llo wing Cyclone Larry, Cyclones George and Jacob • Centrelink employees were deployed to assist with support and evacuation of Australian citizens in areas of political unrest in East Timor and Lebanon • Following the May 2007 Budget announcements Centrelink established the Murray -Darling Basin Service Delivery Coordination Un it in response to the impact of drought and reduced water allocations • The Depart ment of Hu man Serv ices Indigenous Ambassadors Programme continued through 2006–07 to assist in building awareness of Australian Govern ment services in Indigenous communit ies • In March 2007 Centrelink delivered the first release of the Depart ment of Hu man Serv ices Citizen Portal. Description Centrelink has been a key government agency in delivering services to Australians in areas affected by disaster or an emergency. Centrelink has worked closely with other agencies to help communities by quickly establishing systems for process ing payments, setting up dedicated hotlines and providing counselling services. In 2006–07 Centrelink was involved in continued support to those affected by Cyclone Larry, Cyclones George and Jacob, bushfires in Tasman ia, Victoria and Western Australia and floods in the Hunter, Central Coast and Gippsland. In November 2006 the Australian Govern ment Drought Assistance Mobile Serv ice was introduced. The ―Drought Bus‖ has travelled thousands of kilo metres across Australia’s worst drought affected areas and Cen trelink employees have provided information and assistance to communit ies in 260 towns. Centrelink also played a role in supporting Australians in Bali, London, East Timor, Lebanon and Yogyakarta. As an agency of the Department of Hu man Serv ices, Centrelin k has been involved in a number of pro jects with Medicare Australia and CRS Australia that focus on providing improved customer service delivery. Strategic objectives • Foster opportunities to collaborate wi th other Department of Human Services’ agencies • Support development and i mplementation of the Australian Government Health and S ocial Services Access Card Foster opportunities to collaborate with other Department of Human Services’ agencies Emergency management Centrelink plays a key ro le in responding rapidly and assisting in situations where an emergency or disaster has had a serious impact on a co mmunity. Centrelink is one of a nu mber o f agencies that work collaboratively in helping people and communities devastated by natural disasters including ev ents such as floods, cyclones and bushfires. During responses to emergencies or disasters, Centrelink continues to provide its normal services to the community as well as extra assistance to those people most affected and needing additional help and support. Centrelink can quickly deploy phone, counselling, processing and payment capabilit ies to address the needs of affected people. Centrelin k’s involvement in evacuation and recovery centres following disasters is highly regarded by communit ies and partner agencies across all levels of govern ment, as well as non-government agencies. Cyclones Cycl one Larry On 20 March 2006 Centrelin k’s service delivery capacity to assist in emergency situations was vital in the wake of Cyclone Larry’s devastation of north Queensland. Centrelink has continued to provide assistance throughout 2006–07 to those affected by Cyclone Larry. Centrelin k has granted more than 60 000 claims with the amount paid to those affected totalling almost $200 million. Cycl ones George and Jacob The Australian Govern ment Disaster Recovery Pay ment was activated to assist those who were adversely affected as a direct result of cyclones George and Jacob. Pay ments of $1000 per elig ible adult and $400 per eligible child were made available to people who were seriously injured or whose principal place of residence was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as a result of tropical Cyclone Geo rge. In response to Cyclone George, Centrelink g ranted 388 claims with the total amount paid to those affected equalling $485 600. No claims for Disaster Recovery Pay ments were received for Cyclone Jacob. Centrelink worked closely with the Western Australian Govern ment in evacuation and recovery centres to ensure coordination of assistance to people affected by the cyclon es. Additional Centrelink emp loyees fro m other areas of Western Australia were deployed to assist employees at the South Hedland Customer Serv ice Centre and to conduct outreach visits to affected communit ies. Bushfires December 2006 Tasmanian and Victori an bushfires Due to the devastation caused by the bushfires in some parts of Tas mania and Victoria, the Australian Govern ment Disaster Recovery Pay ment was activated to assist people who were adversely affected. Pay ments of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per elig ible ch ild were made available to people whose principal place of residence was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as a direct result of the Tasmanian bushfires and the Victorian bushfires in the Gippsland region, the north-eastern part of Victoria and Steig lit z Historic Park. Centrelink operated a bushfire hotline that was available to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Centrelin k’s call capability was also used to assist the Victorian Depart ment of Sustainability and Environment to answe r calls when its capacity was fully extended. Centrelin k Customer Service Advisers and social workers were involved in recovery centres in both Tasmania and Victoria. January/February 2007 Western Australian bushfires Bushfires in Western Australia that started in January and February 2007, specifically in the areas around Dwellingup and the Porongurup National Park, caused significant damage and destroyed some houses. The Australian Govern ment Disaster Recovery Pay ment was activated to assist those who were adversely affected as a direct result of these bushfires. Payments of $1000 per eligib le adult and $400 per elig ible ch ild were made available to people whose principal place of residence was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as a direct result of the bushfires. Centrelink emp loyees in Western Australia liaised with the Western Australian Depart ment for Co mmunity Development to exp lore ways of contacting potentially eligible people to invite claims for assistance. This was done in conjunction with some local, targeted publicity. A processing centre was set up in Western Australia to manage and process the claims. Centrelink managed queries about the Australian Govern ment Disaster Recovery Pay ment and provided referrals to state government assistance through a special hotline number. Storms June 2007 Hunter, Central Coast storm On 10 June 2007 the Prime M inister announced an assistance package of $1000 per eligib le adult and $400 per elig ible child to people who were adversely affected as a direct result of the storm damage and resultant flooding in Hunter and the Central Coast. By the end of 2006–07 Centrelink had granted over 9000 claims with the amount paid to those affected totalling over $10 million. Additional Centrelin k emp loyees were deployed fro m other Areas to provide assistance to local employees. The New South Wales Govern ment established recovery centres in Singleton, Newcastle, Cessnock and Wyong. Centrelink assisted in each of the four centres providing counselling services and informat ion o n financial support. In conjunction with the Red Cross, Centrelink conducted joint outreach visits to assist people, primarily the elderly and the disadvantaged, who were unable to access the recovery centres. A 24-hour hotline was established to handle enquiries seven days a week. By the end of June 2007, the hotline had received more than 12 000 calls. June 2007 Gi ppsland flood Given the devastation caused by storms and associated flooding in the Gippsland region of Victoria on 29 June 2007, the Australian Govern ment Disaster Recovery Payment was activated to assist people adversely affected as a direct result of the storm. Payments of $1000 per eligib le adult and $400 per elig ible ch ild were made available to people who were seriously injured or whose principal place of residence was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable for more than 48 hours because of the recent floods. The state government established recovery centres in Bairnsdale, Paynesville and Lakes Entrance. Centrelink assisted in the three centres by providing counselling services and information on financial support. Centrelink employees helped to deliver food parcels to recovery centres. The Gippsland floods hotline had answered 44 calls by the end of June 2007. Drought Assistance In response to the prolonged drought, on 6 November 2006 Centrelink started the Australian Govern ment Drought Assistance Mobile Service (known as the ―Drought Bus‖). This service involves Centrelink employees travelling in three Drought Buses to drought affected areas in rural Australia to provide information and assistance to farmers, agricultural-dependent small businesses, their families and rural communities. The buses are staffed by Centrelink Rural Serv ices Officers, Customer Serv ice Advisers, social workers and Med icare Australia emp loyees. The buses have visited severely drought affected rural, regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In the eight months of operation to June 2007, the buses have visited more than 260 towns, travelled over 60 000 kilo metres, and employees have provided advice and information to more than 8000 potential and current customers. The Australian Govern ment has committed to continuing the service until at least 30 June 2009. Centrelink also established a network of Rural Services Officers throughout rural and regional Australia to respond to the needs of rural co mmun ities and enhance awareness of, and access to, Centrelink programmes and services. Traditionally farmers are reluctant to seek assistance. However, as a result of the worsening drought and Centrelink’s outreach activities, the number of farmers receiv ing inco me support assistance more than doubled in 2006–07 to approximately 24 000. Murray-Darling Basin The new financial year will see Centrelin k establish the Murray-Darling Basin Service Delivery Coordination Unit in response to the impact of the drought and reduced water allocations in the Murray -Darling Basin. The new coordination unit will be based in Griffith and will be responsible for coordinating on the ground support to irrigators and farming commun ities along the Murray-Darling Basin. The coordination unit will also coordinate Centrelin k resources across the Murray -Darling Basin, including 15 additional social wo rkers and psychologists, and eight extra Centrelink Rural Services Officers. The Australian Govern ment Drought Bus will continue to play an important role in servicing the region. Terrorist bombings London 2005 bombi ngs’ anni versary Centrelink played a key role in delivering the Australian Govern ment’s assistance package that supported victims, families and friends attending the London bombings’ commemo rations in July 2006. Assistance was delivered through a processing team in Adelaide and included return travel to London to attend the commemorat ions, as well as an allo wance to cover the costs of accommodation and incidentals. Two Centrelink Family Support Team employees were available in London to provide personal support. Bali 2005 bombings’ trials Centrelink delivered the Australian Govern ment’s assistance package for Australian victims of the 1 October 2005 Bali bombings and their families to travel to and fro m Bali to attend part of the Bali bomb ing trials. The trials began in Indonesia on 9 May 2006 and continued through to September 2006. Assistance included arranging and covering costs for travel and accommodation and providing family support in Bali. Bali 2005 bombings’ anni versary Centrelink also provided assistance to Australian victims of the 1 October 2005 Bali bo mbings and their families to travel to and fro m Bali to attend the first anniversary commemorat ions. Centrelink p rovided assistance to eligib le people with travel, acco mmodation and related costs incurred for t ravel to attend the commemorations. Centrelink deployed four Family Support Team emp loyees to Bali to provide support for those attending. Other offshore events East Ti mor evacuations Political unrest in East Timor p ro mpted the evacuation of Australians, foreig n nationals and seriously injured non- Australians as a result of the fighting in May 2006. The Prime Minister approved the medical evacuation fro m East Timor and treatment in Australia of severely injured patients. Throughout 2006–07 Centrelin k continued to provide financial assistance and personal support via Centrelin k Family Liaison Officers to those people receiving ongoing medical treat ment and rehabilitation. Lebanon evacuati ons As a result of the conflict that began on 12 July 2006 between Hezbollah militants and Israel, the Australian Govern ment arranged the evacuation of Australians stranded in Lebanon. More than 5200 Australians were evacuated fro m Lebanon of wh ich 4650 were subsequently evacuated to Australia. Eighteen Centrelink Family Support Team employees were deployed to Cyprus (12) and Turkey (six) to assist the Depart ment of Foreign Affairs and Trade in p roviding personal support to Australians evacuating Lebanon. Centrelink took all calls to the consular Hotline on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis. This arrangement was operational fro m 14 Ju ly 2006 to 7 August 2006. A total of 19 501 calls were answered. Call Centre emp loyees made outbound calls to Australians in Lebanon to provide informat ion regarding evacuations. Call Centre e mp loyees also contacted the next of kin (in Australia) of those returning on flights to Australia to provide informat ion about flight details and arrival t imes. Centrelink also established the Middle East Assist Hotline 06 to provide a single, 24 hours a day, seven days a week point of contact for referrals to counselling. Centrelink assisted state and territory government agencies in meet ing evacuees at Australian international airports and provided appropriate assistance and referrals to returning families and individuals. Bilingual Centrelink Mu lticultural Service Officers provided support and liaised with government agencies to help inform evacuees about the services available to them. Centrelink also provided interpreter assistance when required. Yog yakarta pl ane crash In March 2007, as a result of the Yogyakarta p lane crash in Indonesia in wh ich five Australians died, three Centrelin k Family Support Team emp loyees were sent to Indonesia as part of the Australian Govern ment response. Support team members attended memo rial services in both Yogyakarta and Canberra and provided support and assistance to Australian families affected by the disaster. Local Liaison Officers As part of the Department of Hu man Serv ices Local Liaison Officers programme Centrelink has 151 Local Liaison Officers who in 2006–07 provided assistance and informat ion to 121 Members of Parliament and 32 Senators. Local Liaison Officers aim to action all contacts from Members of Parliament or Senators within two working days of the initial contact. Centrelink handled 4010 contacts with over 99 per cent meeting the timelines standard. Local Liaison Officers provide a contact point between the office of a local Member of Parliament or Senator and agencies of the Department of Hu man Serv ices. This in itiative continues to improve information, services and support provided by Centrelin k to Members of Parliament and Senators. The relat ionship is a very effective and productive way of providing a service to our customers and other key stakeholders in the community. Extension of Family Assistance Office services in Medicare Australia offices A phased rollout began on 1 July 2005 to extend Family Assistance Office processing to Medicare Australia sites. This was completed in November 2006. An evaluation has noted very positive results achieved to date in the key area of customer satisfaction. Centrelink continues to provide ongoing support to Medicare Australia employees. Delivery of information technology services by Centrelink to CRS Australia On 31 March 2007 Centrelin k marked the complet ion of 12 months delivery of info rmation technology (IT) services and support to CRS Australia. Centrelink met CRS Australia service performance targets at first point of contact, and packaged and deployed approximately 130 changes to CRS Australia’s infrastructure with a v iew to improve CRS Australia’s business outcomes. A number of key results were achieved, wh ich include: • implementing and actively pro moting an IT Informat ion Library framewo rk within the Support Services Team • recruit ing, train ing and supporting staff within the allocated budget • managing the relationship and expectations of CRS Australia. In addition, Centrelink is actively engaged in an imp rovement strategy that includes: • reviewing performance reports that accurately reflect the level of service • developing a service management protocol to report against performance targets • progressing the relationship between the agencies through monthly service performance review meetings to discuss service improvement. Department of Human Services Cross Agency Indigenous Taskforce In October 2005 the Depart ment of Hu man Services Cross Agency Indigenous Taskforce was set up to improve service delivery to Indigenous customers. The taskforce is guided by the Indigenous Action Agenda, which details the specific areas of focus and activities the taskforce should undertake to meet its objectives. Initiatives undertaken in 2006– 07 included: • nationally coordinated participation of emp loyees at eight Croc Festival events (a series of festivals conducted in rural and remote areas focusing on health and career planning for school age children) • complet ion of 12 Access Roadshows (events that take Hu man Services agency services and programmes to Indigenous customers) • continued expansion of other Human Services agency services using Centrelin k’s Indigenous Call Centre network which has resulted in approximately 1650 Indigenous customers being offered operator to operator transfer to another Human Services agency • continued expansion of other Human Services agency services using Centrelin k’s Remote Area Serv ice Centres, Customer Service Centres and Centrelin k Agents across remote Australia. Twenty-one Remote Area Serv ice Centres and Customer Service Centres, and 29 Centrelink Agents were offering access to other Hu man Serv ices agency services under this programme • the development and delivery of cultural awareness training to the employees of the Department of Hu man Services and the Human Services agencies —so far 2100 emp loyees have received the training. Department of Human Services Indigenous Ambassadors Programme The Depart ment of Hu man Serv ices Indigenous Ambassadors Progra mme co mmenced in September 2005. There are four Indigenous Ambassadors —rugby league legend, Arthur Beetson, Oly mp ic athlete, Kyle Vander-Kuyp, wo men’s touch football champion, Bo de la Cru z, and Sydney Swans AFL star, M ichael O’Loughlin. The role of the ambassadors is to visit and talk face-to-face with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples around Australia. Their visits help build awareness of Australian Govern ment services and provide valuable insight into how these services are accessed at the ground level. During 2006–07 ambassadors attended a total of 80 events on behalf of Hu man Serv ices’ agencies. For more informat ion, visit the Centrelink website at www.centrelink.gov.au LPG Vehicle Scheme On 14 August 2006 the Australian Govern ment announced the LPG Vehicle Scheme to assist owners of private use vehicles considering liquefied petroleu m gas (LPG) as an alternative fuel. The scheme is delivered on behalf of the Depart ment of Industry, Tourism and Resources, with Medicare Australia and Centrel ink being the contact points for enquiries and form lodgement. The scheme offers grants of $1000 or $2000 to applicants when they either purchase a new vehicle that had a LPG system installed at time of manufacture, or they have a LPG system installed in an existing vehicle. During 2006–07 59 578 claims were granted. Department of Human Services Citizen Portal The introduction of portal technology by Centrelink has positioned it to apply the same approach to the development of additional portals for cross-agency and whole-of-govern ment approaches. In March 2007 Centrelink, through IT Refresh, delivered the first release of the Depart ment of Hu man Serv ices Citizen Portal with supporting security technology. Centrelink, Medicare Australia and the Child Support Agency are each lin ked to the Depart ment of Hu man Services Citizen Portal. As a result eligib le customers can now create one Depart ment of Hu man Services account via the portal and choose to link any or all o f their existing Centrelin k, Ch ild Support Agen cy and Medicare Australia online accounts into a single sign-on, with one username and password. Procurement synergies During 2006–07 Centrelink led and participated in new collaborative purchasing arrangements with the Depart ment of Hu man Serv ices and Human Services’ agencies. These arrangements involved joint tendering and/or ―piggy -backing‖ (joining another agency’s contractual arrangement) for p lanned procurements with an estimated value of $1 million, or greater. Through these procurement synergies Centrelin k has achieved greater buying power and better overall value for money outcomes as well as savings in the costs of tendering. Examples of such arrangements were: • Audit & Evaluation (panel) • Accommodation Broker • Medical Evaluation Services • Short-term Vehicle Rental • Presentation Aids • Address Validation software. Centrelink, through its lease renewals at existing locations and pre-commit ment lease process, offers Hu man Services’ agencies the ability to co-locate their customer service delivery o ffices or area and national offices. This process is initiated by Centrelink issuing Procurement Consultation Notices to other Hu man Serv ices’ agencies. These notices advise of Centrelink’s intentions to either renew a lease at an existing site, or advertise to the open market for new premises and invite Hu man Serv ices’ agencies to join this activity. Co -location arrangements are currently established in Townsville, Queensland, between Centrelink and the Child Support Agency. Upcoming co-location arrangements will be established in Naroo ma, New South Wales, for customer service delivery access and the Melbourne central business district for area and national offices between Centrelink and Medicare Australia. Both arrangements a re anticipated to commence in October 2007. Support development and implementation of the Australian Government Health and Social Services Access Card Centrelink is working as a participating agency with the Office of Access Card in the Depart ment of Hu man Services on the Access Card programme. Centrelink’s role is to provide service delivery policy advice and to support the Office of Access Card in developing a service delivery framework for the card.
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