COMMUNITY LEFT OUT IN THE COLD: LIBERALS CLOSE THE DOOR ON WARRAWONG CENTRELINK AND MEDICARE

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today slammed the Federal Liberal Government for refusing to listen to the local community in Warrawong, Port Kembla, Cringila, Lake Heights, Primbee, Kemblawarra and Berkeley who are angry at the Liberals decision to close the Warrawong Centrelink and Medicare office – effective from Monday, 30 July 2018.

 

 

Shortly after hearing news of the proposed closure back in June, local Members Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones met with Human Services Minister, Michael Keenan, to let him know that the community needs the service and urge him to reconsider this decision.

The local MPs held numerous community meetings and street stalls and collected over 1000 signatures on their petition.

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have today released a number of real case studies compiled by the Illawarra Legal Centre and the Macedonian Welfare Association which demonstrate why our community needs this service.

Warrawong and the surrounding suburbs are home to many people who migrated to the Illawarra from the 1950s to work at Port Kembla Steelworks – many of whom are now elderly and have English as their second language.

Closing the Warrawong office just isn’t right.  Malcolm Turnbull’s Government has cut staff across Human Services as this is having a dramatic impact on local people accessing services – this office closure will just make this worse. Is the Government just hoping to make it so difficult for local people that they give up? 

This out of touch Liberal Government only cares about giving massive hand-outs to big business – they don’t care about a local pensioner with a disability being forced to catch a bus to Wollongong to get the help they need.

CALL WAIT TIME INCREASES

Payment type

2016-17

2017-18 as at 31 March

Older Australians

18 minutes and 59 seconds

23 minutes and 1 second 

Students

31 minutes and 15 seconds

35 minutes and 0 seconds

Families

16 minutes and 19 seconds

21 minutes and 12 seconds

 

PROCESSING TIME INCREASES

Payment type

2016-17

2017-18 as at 31 March

Age pension

36 days

49 days

Carers payments

28 days

47 days

 

Attachment A – Five case studies provided by the Illawarra Legal Centre.

 

Attachment A

Case Studies - Warrawong Office Closure

Here are some examples of people who will be adversely affected by the closure of Warrawong Centrelink:

Trajan: Trajan is an aged pensioner aged 71. He is the owner of an investment property from which he receives an income. He reports his earnings to Centrelink on a monthly basis. Trajan is not computer literate and does not use a smart phone. He also suffers from industrial deafness. Trajan does not drive and has been reporting his income to Warrawong. It will be difficult for him to get to Wollongong.

Cveta: Cveta is aged 64 and in receipt of newstart allowance. She does not own a phone and is computer illiterate. She attends Warrawong Office on a regular basis to submit forms. She has some mobility issues and will find it difficult to get to Wollongong. She does not use a computer.

Jono: Jono is 56 and on newstart allowance. He lives on his own and has mobility issues from an old injury. Jono works casually and reports his earnings to Centrelink every fortnight. He does not drive and lacks family support. He is an old factory worker who is computer illiterate and suffers from mental health issues. The journey to Wollongong will be difficult for him.

Veronica: Veronica is in receipt of carer’s allowance. Her payments are affected by casual earnings so she has to report her income each fortnight. She does this by attending Warrawong Office. She is not computer literate and has trouble using a smart phone while she finds it difficult to understand reporting by telephone.

In Verica’s opinion the closure of Warrawong Centrelink will create a problem for the injured and unwell who aren’t eligible for the disability support pension. The Macedonian community is both the largest and one of the oldest CALD communities within the region. Levels of computer literacy amongst older members are not high and they remain dependant on face to face services.

Warren: Warren is on newstart. He lives in share rental accommodation in Berkeley and does not own a computer. Like many people on newstart he often cannot afford phone credit. He currently walks from Berkeley to Warrawong to access Centrelink. He will find it very difficult to get to Wollongong.

The statistics we have provided show Warrawong is one of the poorest and most socially disadvantaged regions in the state. It also contains a large aging CALD population who struggle to use smart technology. They are disadvantaged by the closure of Warrawong Centrelink.