Amid growing controversy about Centrelink's new automated debt recovery methods, the agency is using Twitter to refer welfare recipients to a crisis support hotline and offer assistance from trained social workers.
Staff of Beleaguered Centrelink will undergo Advanced Customer Aggression Training soon amid public backlash that the government agency is facing due to its contentious debt recovery regime.
In a contract tender that was made public before Christmas, the Department of Human Services said it was "seeking providers suitably qualified to deliver a high quality of Advanced Customer Aggression Training Services to the Department's Customer Facing Staff, Team Leaders and Managers."
The Department of Human Services has defended its controversial new debt recovery system, which has been blamed for frightening welfare recipients over the Christmas period.
"I really am surprised that people are seriously suggesting that when we are obliged under the law to recover outstanding debt when it is identified, that we are being asked to stop doing this," Mr Jongen said. "The number of complaints we have received is a little over 200. I think you need to keep all of this in context."
Top Centrelink bosses have hung up on the public, putting their office phone numbers and email addresses under wraps.
The man in charge of Centrelink’s new system, which is sending thousands of automated letters to welfare recipients asking them for money back, says those feeling “lost in the system” should write to him directly: hank [at] humanservices.gov.au
Launched in July, the system was intended to streamline the detection of overpayments made to welfare recipients and automatically issue notices of any discrepancies.
The media and Reddit threads have since been inundated with complaints from people who say they are being accused of being "welfare cheats" without cause, thanks to faulty data.
The trouble lies with the algorithm's apparent difficulty accurately matching tax office data with Centrelink records, according to the Guardian, although department spokesperson Hank Jongen told Mashable it remains "confident" in the system.