Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have written to Minister for Human Services, Hon Michael Keenan MP, urging him to overturn his Government’s decision to close the Department of Human Services office at Warrawong which provides Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services to the local area.
They have also called on locally-based, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, to join their fight to stop the closure.
As someone who grew up in Port Kembla, Senator Fierravanti-Wells should understand many of the difficulties that Centrelink and Medicare clients face when dealing with Government departments.
The Government’s decision to close the office will impact on many members of Warrawong and the surrounding suburbs of Port Kembla, Berkeley, Lake Heights and Cringila.
These suburbs are home to some of the most disadvantaged people in the Illawarra and many of these people have English as a second language which makes phone and internet contact difficult.
The Department of Human yesterday told local media outlets that “the Warrawong Service Centre has seen a reductions in customer foot traffic over the last few years” – without providing any details of this.
The Department also said that they had been directing some of the most disadvantaged people requiring more complex support to travel to Wollongong rather than assisting them at the Warrawong office.
This means that it will now be even more difficult and expensive for people most in need to get the help they need as everyone will need to access other sites. Clients already experience long waits at the Wollongong office and the Warrawong closure will exacerbate this.
We call on the Minister to reverse this ridiculous decision and keep the Warrawong Centrelink and Medicare office open!