The Federal Government confirmed on Friday (15 October) their anticipated decision to close and not replace the Braddon Centrelink Service Centre with another site in Central Canberra. Instead, the facility will be merged with the Gungahlin shopfront in December.
The “merger” will mean existing customers of the Braddon office will be moved to the Gungahlin site for their Centrelink service. The Gungahlin site is 20 minutes away by car or 30 minutes via public transport. The influx of people to the Gungahlin site will also likely impact its regular users.
Services Australia has stated that no jobs will be lost as a result of the Braddon closure.
The public was made aware that the Braddon site would be closed when the office space was initially advertised for lease online in July. Minister for Government Services Senator Linda Reynolds suggested at the time that the uptake of digital services such as MyGov and Express Plus had led to the face-to-face service in Braddon becoming inessential.
Federal Member for Canberra Alicia Payne has been outspoken on the importance of the community having access to a face-to-face Centrelink office in Central Canberra. She expressed her disappointment with the “vital service” being closed down and, in particular, how the decision has been presented to the community.
The Liberal Government have confirmed that they’re closing the only Centrelink office in my electorate. This follows other closures around the country.
Which Centrelink office will be next?!#auspol
— Alicia Payne MP (@AliciaPayneMP) October 15, 2021
“There has been zero community consultation around this decision and zero consideration about what this means for users of the Braddon shopfront,” said Ms Payne.
“While it’s true that many people deal with Centrelink online, Centrelink’s own rules require people to visit a shop front for certain interactions.
“With unemployment rising in the last month and the pandemic far from over, it is unbelievable that the Morrison Government would rip away this critical support from Canberrans,” she said.
Ms Payne used the closure of the Braddon service as evidence that the Morrison Government is “out-of-touch” with the impact of the pandemic on employment, acknowledging the 138,000 Australians that lost their jobs last month according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Ms Payne is not yet ready to give up in the fight to save the service and encouraged affected community members to write directly to Senator Reynolds and Senator Zed Seselja, and sign the petition available on the Member for Canberra’s website.