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The wait continues at Centrelink and tips to navigate it

17 February 2017
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman
The Age

Centrelink's phone lines are about to get better… no really, they're meant to, but you just have to wait a little longer for it to happen.

That's the line I'm getting from the Department of Human Services, which has copped a hammering in recent weeks over the government's controversial robo debt recovery scheme and its high error rates in clawing back overpaid welfare payments.

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So how do you get through to the other end of the telephone line when there are so many people trying, the phone lines aren't the best, the department is strained and staff are under resourced?

Community and Public Sector Union deputy national president Lisa Newman recommends calling the "complaints" line.

"We've seen both Labor and Liberal governments use the public sector as some magic pudding that they can keep shrinking as the population increases," Newman says.

"I know some members [Centrelink staff] that break rules to get the right outcomes for the people they deal with. They actually really give a stuff about the people that come through the door and meet their needs."

Jongen says while wait times for services vary, customers are best to avoid periods of high caller volume – Monday mornings, Friday afternoons, and daily lunchtime periods.