Centrelink now using private providers

Applying for the pension is now hazardous to your wallet. Centrelink is now teamed up with private,
for a fee providers. In recent changes to the myriad of forms you had to fill , the process has been made far more difficult to follow and the waiting times to receive an assessment have blown out. The applicants are left in the dark. In a recent experience an application was rejected on the basis that a requested piece of information had not been forwarded . In fact it had been up loaded 2 days after the request . In comparison the assessment team took some 6-8weeks . But if you are prepared to pay private providers will fill in al the forms and get your application through the system in “no time at all” Cost range from $150 to $950 ++ In another scandalous wrong applicants are only given 14 days to respond to additional information requests, when Centrelink can take months to assess application. Mean while applicants are left hanging out at the soup kitchen. What a sad state of affairs’ for one of the wealthiest countries.


I understand that applications can still be made directly with Services Australia:

However, there are also a number of fee-for-service agents who can also prepare the application on behalf of individuals, but using an agent is a choice of the applicant rather than mandated by Services Australia.

If this situation has recently changed, the community would be interested if you could post some information on and links to the changes.


The change is subtle. The staff numbers in CL are decreasing and not replaced. If the assessment requires a complex case officer there are only 200 in the whole of Australia. The changes to the forms and the process makes it harder than prior application methods. It has all the hall marks of privatising by stealth.
I am not against privatisation . There are clear cases where it’s beneficial for all parties. I’m against stealth. Major changes should be debated . Making the process deliberately difficult to drive change is counter productive


With regard to privatisation, the initial reason was to save the Government money.

What I don’t understand is why the call centres and staff generally, are not given proper trainin.

Filling forms should not be so hard.

Correct me if I am in error but any activity has a certain cost. The cost is affected by efficiency, something not often attributed to most government operations largely because they are large and visible to the public and thus operate conservatively. Some governments over time has also made their own decisions to be model employers or model customers, another aspect.

Ignoring efficiency, if 100 staff at $60,000 each are actually necessary to provide ‘good service’ (eg the baseline we enjoy) and they and their infrastructure is outsourced I have always struggled to understand how it saves money (while usually losing direct public accountability). Any saving is generally because those 100 staff at $60,000 each might become 75 staff at $50,000 each and the supporting infrastructure is designed to an absolute minimal standard. One view is any more than the bear minimum is inefficient waste; another view is a reliable, responsive service usually has a cost above the absolute minimum that can be achieved.

In an outsourcing arrangement every cost affects the outsourced company’s bottom line so training is also going to be as lean as it can be to maximise their bottom line.


Transferring a function to private hands does not reduce the problems due to the size of the organisation. Large private organisations have structural, training and internal communication problems the same as large public ones do.

Public organisations also have problems because they can get kicked around by Ministers who demand political responses to problems not logical ones and they typically have no profit motive to judge the efficiency and effectiveness of their actions. How will privatisation deal with that?

I don’t see privatisation of services like this ending well but what’s new, the public version has had horrid turnover, training and moral for decades. This is what happens when staff are treated like cannon fodder.

I submitted a claim for Age Pension on 24 April 2023. It was a simple process, I signed into MyGov and selected the Centrelink option. This is a government web site: https://my.gov.au/