Monday, September 15, 2008

Most dangerous job in Australia? Centrelink public servant

According to the union, CPSU:

The Community and Public Sector Union's survey of 330 workers found they were regularly exposed to verbal abuse, death threats and even physical assaults.

Centrelink, which employs 27,000 public servants in more than 300 offices around the country is responsible for distributing tens of billions of dollars in welfare and family payments a year.

One manager reported that "countless" staff had been beaten up by angry welfare recipients.

The CPSU said a third of those surveyed had received death threats and nearly two-thirds were verbally abused in the past three months. more

The minister, Nick Minchin says* that there are only approximately three occasions per annum where police are called to each Centrelink office.

I reckon the police have a more dangerous job.
Or service people.

*sorry, no link, heard in a sound bite on ABC Radio News.


bruce said...

That was my first post-school job: "Death Clerk" then cheque-withholder for the newly named Dept Social Security, under Bill Hayden Minister. Also USB Assessor (Unemployment Sickness Benefit), of three desks handling all claims for NSW - alphabet breakup, no computers - how did we do it?

Every pension day I was called to The Counter at Wynyard to explain why someone (often a mentally ill Invalid Pensioner whose affairs were in a mess) had had a cheque withheld. There was also pressure from 'the boss' not to grant compassionate payments, and referrals to Social Work section were limited.

Oh yes, death threats, abuse, being spat at, all par for the course. Just out of school 18 yrs old with no training, all the old-timers took the cushy desk jobs and made us newbies run the gauntlet. They don't do that so much anymore I hope.

Skeeter said...

Bruce, sounds like things have really changed for the better. My first-ever dealings with Centrelink have occurred over recent months and the staff have always been incredibly kind and helpful.
Their friendly approach surprised me, because I had always imagined them as fierce and unyielding bureaucrats — like those in ATO and city councils — and much as you have described them in your experience.
Seriously, I can't imagine why anyone would need to get aggressive towards Centrelink staff these days.