A report by the Auditor General has exposed the Government hiding the truth about excessive Disability Support Pension (DSP) wait times.
The Auditor General’s report has revealed that claims that take more than 84 days to process are simply not counted towards the average processing time – this means that the public figures of average wait times are simply not true.
The departments of Human Services and Social Services agreed in 2015 that this measure should be changed, yet as at September 2018 the Government had still not come clean on the true state of the DSP backlog.
Thousands of vulnerable Australians waiting for their DSP claim to be processed may rightly ask why the Government is trying to hide the true extent of the problem.
Over the last four years the Government has cut thousands of staff from DHS and started the privatisation of Centrelink, and the proportion of DSP claims taking more than 84 days has quadrupled.
“A large proportion of claims each quarter take more than 84 days to be finalised. Between Q3 2016–17 and Q4 2017–18 this accounted for about 40 to 60 per cent of all claims finalised, compared to around 10 to 20 per cent in 2014–15 when the exclusion was agreed.”
[Auditor General Report No. 13, 2018-19, p54]
The exclusion of claims taking more than 84 days to complete from the departments’ measure has created a perverse incentive for Centrelink to drag out DSP applications in order to fudge its key performance marker (KPM) figures.
The Government needs to come clean on the extent to which DSP applications are being delayed.
This report only confirms what too many Australians who rely on the DSP already know – they are waiting many more months than the Government is willing to admit.
Over the past two years, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal Government have cut and outsourced 2,500 Centrelink jobs.
Over that time, Australians are waiting longer and longer for their income support payments.
Income support is complex. This is why Labor has committed to boosting Centrelink with 1,200 permanent staff who are qualified and experienced to manage the complex circumstances facing income support recipients, including Australians with a disability.