Centrelink fun!

Root Proboscis 1 February 2010 34

Just how prevalent is the bastardry of Centrelink in Canberra?

This morning I had the pleasure of being asked to provide a Statutory Declaration for a person that Centrelink requested them to obtain. Simplest option, visit Centrelink, fill out stat dec with all they need, get it signed by a prescribed person (a commonwealth employee with 5 years service) all in the office.

Sorry they say, it needs witnessing and signing by a JP. There is no difference under legislation, there is simply a list of prescribed persons, of which a JP is one. But you have to search for a JP, you have to find one available, you have to make further trips. And the office manager, who can witness Statutory Declarations will not sign this particular Statutory Declaration because they want you to chase around and find a JP.

It is really pointless complaining to Centrelink, you get the impression that they actually give medals to the staff members who do get the most complaints made against them. Welfare by attrition, jumping through hoops is the major criteria to qualify for payment.

Any other horror stories?


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Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 8:18 am 04 Feb 10

s-s-a – “After some of the idiotic things their staff have told me over the years, I can see how there would be a high likelihood of this”

Hear hear!

In Homebase the other day talking with the Centrelink advocate who attempted to make a first contact for me the other day, which was fine except the line was busy for at least 30 mins. When she had first picked up the phone and said it was engaged, I said “oh the employment services line is always engaged for about half and hour”.

She did’t look to believe me. She soon changed her tune.

As they told us they couldn’t do the interview right then and I would have to do it later on, she told me the line would be open til 8pm. When I rang at 5.45 or so, it told me to call back within working hours.

I told her it’s just been story after story with these guys which all contradict each other and are they ever sorry or understanding.. No!

With regards to documents, years ago they could never manage to deliver ACT Housing the rebate forms back (they didn’t care if your rent now doubled your income), I haven’t used that service in years now, insisting I take it in personally and Housing have never lost a thing or mucked me around near ‘as’ much.

If they didn’t give out money, not one person would ever use them!

s-s-a s-s-a 11:21 pm 03 Feb 10

I have a friend that works there and they have to call the cops at least three times a week because people get agressive and violent to the staff

After some of the idiotic things their staff have told me over the years, I can see how there would be a high likelihood of this.

Never EVER leave any document with Centrelink that you need to get back. Just ask them to copy it and keep your original.

While sorting out things with a holiday program recently, the staff member offered to call Centrelink while I was there. When I laughed he said “oh no, we have a special hotline just for childcare providers, it will be quick”. After he had been on hold for at least 10 minutes I said I would call them myself later. The following evening I called the FAO (who are open until 8pm) and they fixed it up but told me “if you have any more problems, get the childcare people to call because they have a special hotline number”. Hahahahaha………..

prhhcd prhhcd 1:46 pm 03 Feb 10

smelly – excellent strategy! Love it! Wonder if that will work with other federal and ACT govt depts??

busgirl busgirl 1:35 pm 03 Feb 10

sepi said :

Babybonus – you used to be able to do that at medicare – much more civilised.

hahaha…not anymore!! They are merging…will they now be known as MediLink or CentreCare? hahaha….

Smelly Smelly 12:05 pm 03 Feb 10

I have been lucky and not had tooooooo many dramas with C’Link.

However, when they have stuffed me around with stupidity such as whom can witness forms etc, I have found that simply staying put and sitting there works wonders. No need to swear or get upset. Plan beforehand, and make the latest possible appointment. Once they realsie you are not going to move, without them calling the cops, it is amazing what you can achieve, especially as the clock rolls around to closing time 🙂

jake555 jake555 10:00 am 03 Feb 10

dvaey said :

If you read my comment youd see I said “every police station has a JP present who can witness documents”. Not every police officer is a JP, but every police station has a JP available (possibly only during business hours, Im not sure). Every government shopfront also has a JP available, however they will only witness documents that are being handed to the shopfront.

dvaey, not sure about every time, but partly correct in my experience. I’ve had some docs signed at Woden police & was told they have volunteers there during weekday business hours, SOME of who are JPs. On one occasion, no JP was available, however they pointed me in the direction of a JP in the Woden area.

dvaey dvaey 9:28 am 03 Feb 10

Root Proboscis said :

#13 – Any police are allowed to witness Statutory Declaration, but Centrelink insisted on a JP. If all police are JPs I am worried, I believed JP’s had to independent to sign search warrants and the like.

If you read my comment youd see I said “every police station has a JP present who can witness documents”. Not every police officer is a JP, but every police station has a JP available (possibly only during business hours, Im not sure). Every government shopfront also has a JP available, however they will only witness documents that are being handed to the shopfront.

cleo cleo 12:48 am 03 Feb 10

I needed to have a JP sign, the one’s listed were either not there or they didn’t answer their phones, in the end I went to the court house, where there is a JP from 9am till 1pm, Monday to Friday. As far as Centerlink goes, they do have to put up with a lot crap, and also over worked, if something does not sound right make more inquiries.

sepi sepi 10:48 pm 02 Feb 10

If you ever have to provide documents to Centrelink, and they claim you need one more document, DO NOT leave any with them. They will just lose them, and after you return with the outstanding docs, they will claim you need to come in again with the first lot. It goes on forever.

Babybonus – you used to be able to do that at medicare – much more civilised.

And Centrelink ‘records’. At one point they used to bag up files, attach a bar code to the sack, then stack the sacks willy nilly in a massive warehouse. They have no expectation of ever finding this stuff again.

laughtong laughtong 9:30 pm 02 Feb 10

Police can witness Statutory declarations. As I understand it they do not have the powers of JPs. In fact when I went through training we were warned about Police approaching us to authorize search warrants.

JPs (or anyone witnessing a stat dec) should be independent. That’s where a conflict could arise for a Centrelink staffer.

We were warned off search warrants because if not done absolutely correctly we could do more harm than good. Specially trained staff are available at Civic all hours if required.

(MODS please use this version. Some edits made

Root Proboscis Root Proboscis 8:28 pm 02 Feb 10

#1, #22 – as stated insisted it be a JP, not a pharmacist, not a police officer, not a Post Office/bank employee. Because if it was a commonwealth employee, well they are already in the office!
#2 & #3 – I have no idea, I was providing a statement on someone-else’s behalf.
#5 – this was the manager
#6, #10, #16, #17 – good to see the people who invented the system read Riot Act. Thank god I’m not another !#!?
#7 – read (red) the fine print, read the Statutory Declaration Act, all say no difference between JPs and anyone else
#13 – Any police are allowed to witness Statutory Declaration, but Centrelink insisted on a JP. If all police are JPs I am worried, I believed JP’s had to independent to sign search warrants and the like.
#14 – my thinking, but not their’s
#20 – thanks
#21 – I think they get two medals for every complaint to the ombudsman

laughtong laughtong 7:26 pm 02 Feb 10

I happen to be a Justice of the Peace for the ACT.
I was going to provide the link to the list of JPs, but I see someone has beaten me to it.

Most of the comments above are correct. If using the standard form in the ACT, the Commonwealth one under Stat Decs Act 1959, a large range of people can witness these.
Check the back of the form. Police, Teachers, Public Servants with 5 years standing and many others.

You should not need to purchase the form from a Post Office or newsagent.
Form is available to download in pdf from http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/%28CFD7369FCAE9B8F32F341DBE097801FF%29~StatutoryDeclaration200602.pdf/$file/StatutoryDeclaration200602.pdf
or there is a range including NSW available here http://www.docdownload.com.au/document/group.psp?group=legal,12918

Same rules about witnesses do not necessarily apply in NSW, or other state jurisdictions.
I have seen some forms coming from Queensland that specify a JP.

We are encouraged to update our details on the list, but maintenance of something like this is only as good as the people contributing. I see it was last updated to the web in Dec 2009. Given that the majority of JPs details would be pretty static this is not bad.
JACS did a survey of JPs mid/late 2009, so those who were no longer active had the opportunity to pull out.

I have a close friend (now retired) who worked behind the counters at Centrelink. What many may not be aware of is that those staff are under intense time pressures. They are allocated x minutes per interview. It is barely time to greet the person …
However if someone qualified in the office did not have a conflict of interest in witnessing the Stat Dec, doing that would probably be quicker than explaining and sending the OP away again.

astrojax astrojax 6:06 pm 02 Feb 10

astress went into c/link recently to register astro-junior and to see if we made it under the radar for the baby bonus – what with the xmas break and the other extenuating circumstances, she sought and was granted, with a confirming letter, a short extension to get the relevant documents in. when she took the in, they said, oh no, you don’t qualify – but wouldn’t let her use the same documents for simply registering astro-junior for the purpose of the family allowance as the time limit had expired (referring to the original time period).

production of the letter granting an extension was to no avail, so we have now had to re-submit the information on-line.

(there is an on-line part which you do for each submission, it seems. can’t they store information? I bet if they needed it for court purposes they would produce it)

grrrr…

pptvb pptvb 5:43 pm 02 Feb 10

A list of JPs in Canberra and their contact details:
http://www.jcs.act.gov.au/eLibrary/jps/jplist.pdf

I needed a JP a few years ago & also found this list.
There was a JP listed as working in the next street, I called & was informed that he hadn’t worked there for 8 years.
Another ACT Govt “special”.
Just use a pharmacist.

st st 5:10 pm 02 Feb 10

There’s always the Ombudsman if you are not satisfied with the response you may receive from complaining to Centrelink!

ThatGuy ThatGuy 5:00 pm 02 Feb 10

In any job you can halve the amount of shit you cop by knowing your job and providing good service to those who aren’t idiots. Even sometimes the idiots are in the right because you’ve given incorrect information.
People dealing with idiots isn’t an excuse for not knowing their job. Yes the main post isn’t a major inconevenience but some of the stories in the comments are.

The track record for Centrelink isn’t great and we shouldn’t sit back and say ‘Well at least we have it’ when it isn’t being implemented well. That’s like being content with the Govt providing us with half a GDE and saying ‘at least we have it’ without saying ‘uhhh reckon you could do this properly so that it’s actually as beneficial as you originally claimed it would be?’. Existence doesn’t discount the need for improvement.

motleychick motleychick 4:27 pm 02 Feb 10

imhotep said :

motleychick said :

…think about the amount of idiots the staff there have to deal with? ….. They have to put up with a lot of shit in their line of work.

Precisely, which is why I think we should cut them (and cops) a fair bit of slack. Not a job I would like to do.

+1 on the cops bit as well (even though it’s OT) just had to put my 2 cents in.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 3:08 pm 02 Feb 10

Horror story? Please don’t, oh my aching sides! I heard that they even make people go out and look for work before handing over the taxpayers money!

I have had innumerable contacts with Centrelink on behalf of clients, and have always found the staff there treat you with respect and dignity. I have seen some of the awful behaviour they have to put up with, and the demands made on them by people. It’s not a job I could do, not with my short fuse and tendency to tell people what I actually think of them.

Thank your lucky stars for the welfare state, even if they do …gasp… make you walk a few blocks to get a signature…

imhotep imhotep 2:40 pm 02 Feb 10

motleychick said :

…think about the amount of idiots the staff there have to deal with? ….. They have to put up with a lot of shit in their line of work.

Precisely, which is why I think we should cut them (and cops) a fair bit of slack. Not a job I would like to do.

Anyway, being forced to find a JP is an inconvenience, not a hardship.

Avy Avy 12:55 pm 02 Feb 10

>Any other horror stories?

In truth, I do not think this is a horror story. I have heard of far, far, far worse from other places. This is child’s play.

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