Millions in compensation payments delayed due to slow Centrelink processing
1st Sep 2020
Millions of dollars which should be assisting families in need remains locked in insurers’ trust accounts due to Centrelink processing delays, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“Addressing these delays will inject some $100 million into the economy at a time when it is greatly needed,” said Mr Graham Droppert, National President, ALA. “COVID-19 has resulted in extraordinary demand for Centrelink services which means that normal business is being seriously delayed. The Minister has now had months to resolve these capacity issues but we have not seen any improvement.
“These delays are causing significant hardship to people who are unable to work due to injury or illness and are waiting on Centrelink to clear their compensation payment.
“We are gravely concerned about the mental health of many claimants who have suffered a serious injury and finding the extended wait for their compensation to be re-traumatising and very stressful.”
After injury compensation arrangements have been settled, Services Australia needs to produce a clearance recovery notice before payment can be made. Most settlement terms allow 28 days for Centrelink to process the paperwork and a claimant to receive their money. However, claimants are currently waiting 60 days or more.
“Many are relying on their compensation payment to feed their families or pay medical bills. Others need their compensation payment to purchase equipment or modify their homes so that they can manage their life with a disability,” said Mr Droppert.
The ALA has outlined these concerns in a submission to the Australian National Audit Office as it assesses whether Services Australia has effectively managed risks related to the rapid preparation for and delivery of COVID-19 economic response measures.
“We are disappointed that despite our passionate advocacy, both to the Minister and directly to Services Australia, this situation has not improved. The Minister seems to be missing in action while injured people continue to suffer. It is appallingly neglectful of him to ignore this issue,” said Mr Droppert.
“Services Australia staff are being stretched beyond capacity by the welfare demands of the pandemic and the Minister must address this problem.”