DHS Advisory Forum Report

More than 26 people attended the DHS Centrelink Forum Thursday, 27 March 2014.

Simon Edwards, Service Leader Zone SA opened the session with invitation for individuals and organisations to contact and speak to him personally in order to ‘iron out’ some of the issues and challenges facing CALD groups. An engaging way to encourage CALD groups to be involved.

The main focus was getting more people to use On-line services to alleviate the problem of long queues at Centrelink offices or people clogging up the telephone lines. It is envisaged that if people are trained and encouraged to use On-Line self-service, this will improve the system considerably.

Anita Bogdanovski, Director Multicultural Service Branch National Team from Sydney launched the ‘Delivering Service to Multicultural Australia 2013-2015: Multicultural Servicing Strategy and DHS Agency Multicultural Plan’ booklet. Key focus areas for the Agency Multicultural Plan for the next two years are in Leadership, Engagement, Performance, Capability, Responsiveness and Openness.

Anita stated they are currently reviewing their Multicultural Training Awareness which is a full day session.

Another piece of information was the Video on Demand service (or VOD).  It a video which shows what services government can provide for CALD clients, students etc and this comes in languages other than English, including Arabic and Farsi. There’s a webpage for this and training for VOD can be arranged by contacting Gianna Vorrasi at Centrelink.

Nat Hill, Region Based Change Manager SA spoke about Self-Managed Services: ‘My Gov’. which was released this week. It provides information on Medicare, E Health, DVA, National Disability Insurance Scheme and Centre link. It was challenging to demonstrate how to navigate the website page.

The activity session on Digital Servicing Technology aimed to tease some of these issues and for the group to put forward other ideas and suggestions from CALD perspectives. It appeared to open ‘a can of worms’ because there was no discussion on what will happen in the interim during this transition from current issues to when we all became ‘savvy’ with On Line Self Service, My Gov etc.

Some of the comments/suggestions put forward by the group during the activity session:-

  • For Older CALD, language is a problem so how could they negotiate an On- Line service?
  • Centrelink service is not user friendly even by those who are computer literate.
  • The waiting time is up to 30 to 45 mins which is not acceptable.
  • Someone indicated listening to an hour of ‘Classical music’ got his client very angry and can this be changed?
  • HACC workers are allocated one hour to assist clients and cannot afford the time waiting on the phone line to Centrelink.
  • Most CALD are disadvantaged digitally due to the language – suggestions using symbols to help them understand.
  • Young CALD may be comfortable with computers but may have difficulties with language.
  • Older CALD have a real issues with providing their private information to a machine. How can this be overcome?
  • Someone suggested that DHS pays for some of the resources.
  • Lynda Milde, Region Manager Corporate Relations, Stakeholders & Community Engagement would like to know how they can reach the minority CALD group that may need extra help. (, At the beginning of the forum, there was an assumption of how good it would be to have everybody use the On-Line Service to lessen the waiting time for people and all that’s needed is to look at the cultural component and this view was moderated into the On-Line Self Service is for those who are comfortable using it and happy to be trained if they are given some support to do so.
  • A view was expressed that current challenges to accessing services issues faced by older CALD groups and some of the younger new arrivals were being canvassed but not really addressed.
  • MAC stressed that it was important to link to CALD community groups and establish trust. Trust building is imperative when dealing with CALD.
  • The main question was ‘what is put in place in the interim period – like now, to solve some of these problems? Some challenging thoughts to chew on!

Self-Managed Services: ‘My Gov’ link