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3.2 Face-to-face services

Service Centres

As at 30 June 2019, the department provided Centrelink and Medicare program services from 339 Service Centres across the country. Almost two‑thirds of these Service Centres offer the full range of face‑to‑face Centrelink and Medicare services, as well as supported digital services, from a single physical location. These Service Centres make it easier and more convenient for customers to transact their business with the government.

The sustainable, accessible and fit‑for‑purpose network of Service Centres reduces the costs and duplication of service delivery. As a result, the department has more scope and capacity to provide targeted assistance to customers who require more intensive support due to their complex circumstances.

As at 30 June 2019, on average over 66,000 customers visited Service Centres each day to access face-to-face or supported services. The social security and welfare average wait time in Service Centres for 2018–19 was 15 minutes and 10 seconds against a target of 15 minutes.

Financial Information Service turns 30

Front cover of Financial Information Service brochure with a smiling financial information service officer on the front.

In 2019, the department’s Financial Information Service (FIS) marks its 30th anniversary. Since 1989, the FIS has provided free, independent financial information to millions of Australians.

FIS officers talk to communities, present seminars and work with individuals over the phone and face to face. They help people through the big changes in their lives, like starting work or a family, retrenchment, preparing for retirement or entering aged care.

In 2018–19, FIS officers helped over 200,000 people, including farmers in Dubbo, non-English-speaking senior citizens in Brunswick, and remote communities in Northern Australia. They were on Norfolk Island when Australian Government services were rolled out there. They partnered with the Big Super Day Out to help remote communities in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland find millions of dollars in lost superannuation.

Our new FIS Servicing Strategy will make sure the FIS can continue to meet the financial information needs of Australians, helping financially vulnerable people to get the information they need to become self-sufficient.

Mobile Service Centres

The department has two Mobile Service Centres: Golden Wattle and Desert Rose. Our Mobile Service Centres travel to rural and regional communities to ensure that those communities have access to the same range of services that are available at any other Service Centre in Australia.

In 2018‑19, the Mobile Service Centres:

  • visited 410 towns—306 of which were greater than 50 kilometres from a Service Centre
  • helped 10,266 people
  • spent 13 days in 7 flood affected communities of Northern Queensland helping over 500 people.

Agents and Access Points

Agents and Access Points help people in rural, regional and remote areas to access Centrelink, Medicare and other government services.

Access Points provide free self service facilities for customers to conduct their business with the department. Customers can access internet‑enabled computers, upload documents (for scanning to customer records), and use customer Wi‑Fi, printers, phones and fax machines. In addition to the facilities available at an Access Point, Agents provide a face‑to‑face information service, respond to customer queries with a specific focus on online servicing, and provide a lodgement service for departmental claim forms and documentation. At 30 June 2019, the department had 351 Agents and 240 Access Points throughout regional, rural and remote Australia.