Novocastrians are bearing the brunt of ongoing cuts at Centrelink, with many being forced to wait for up to six months for applications for pensions or income support to be processed.
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the number of Novocastrians contacting her for help after going months without income was distressing.
“My office takes too many calls from desperate constituents forced to live on nothing and navigate a system that seems rigged to demoralise and delay,” Ms Claydon said.
“With well over 35,000 Novocastrians on income support or pensions, the impact of these cuts has been felt widely across our community.
“Staff morale is also an all-time low with department jobs being cut and outsourced to labour hire firms.”
Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney said the Federal Government had cut and outsourced 2,500 Centrelink jobs in the past three years.
“Centrelink is in crisis under the Liberals. It's under-staffed and under-resourced,” Ms Burney said.
“We have heard shocking stories of people waiting hours to speak to someone on the phone, or waiting months for their allowances or pensions.”
“The only winners of the cuts are labour hire firms who charge the taxpayer more, but pay their staff less.”
Labor has committed to invest in Centrelink’s workforce with 1,200 permanent, full-time, properly trained staff, who are best able to deal with the complex issues facing income support recipients.