Centrelink agency announcement welcome but more services still needed

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The Council welcomes last week’s announcement of a Centrelink agency for Mornington but remains concerned about the loss of services for local residents.

The Australian Government’s plan to replace the full-time Service Centre with an ‘agency’ service operating for a mere 15 hours a week represents a 62.5 per cent reduction in current hours of service.

Replacing a full-time Serve Centre with a part-time ‘agent’ tasked with helping people use Centrelink’s online and telephone services means Mornington residents will receive a more limited range of services than they have previously had access to.

The people who need access to this important local essential service are some of our more vulnerable and disadvantaged community members who may not be able or comfortable to access online services. Many are non-drivers who will have to struggle with inadequate public transport to travel significant distances to Frankston or Rosebud on a regular basis to get the support they need.

The Mornington Peninsula has:

  • a much higher older population than Greater Melbourne and the State average
  • more people with a disability
  • more unemployed young people
  • more people without an internet connection.

In the catchment area of Centrelink Mornington we estimate the impact may be felt by as many as:

  • 3,000 low income households
  • 11,000 older people
  • 800 unemployed people
  • 1,700 single parent families
  • 12,000 people with a disability (including 3,731 with disability parking permits and 1,170 NDIS participants).

The Shire was not advised or consulted on this matter, nor was the local community, and the intended closure date of 23 March 2020 gives very little time for service users to make other arrangements.

There are also concerns that increased foot traffic at other Centrelink sites will increase congestion and queue waiting times for community members across the Peninsula.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Councillor Sam Hearn said: “I’m pleased we have secured a continued Centrelink presence in Mornington but I’m far from convinced that the current proposal will be enough to meet the needs of local residents.”

“We’ve been advocating for more core services for the Mornington Peninsula for quite some time and we will continue to do so. We are calling on the Federal Government to improve the range of services available at Mornington, not reduce them.”

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