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Australian Times

Business

Welfare Staff Feel Abused

April 8, 2012 by rochelle in Business


A survey by the Community and Public Sector Union revealed that welfare staff feels abused. The concern arises from increasing number of people on welfare. 

940 staff was surveyed for this study. Two-thirds of the respondents said they experienced hostility from customers in the past six months. Others said they experienced aggression. 

Rehabilitation services, Child Support Agency, and Centrelink were rated highest in terms of customer aggression. Centrelink is the government department that deals with welfare payments. Customs agencies and Medicare workers also experience high levels of aggression from their customers. 

Interactions with customers include face-to-face and phone conversations. 60 percent of the respondents said they received abuse over the phone while the rest said they experienced face-to-face aggression. 

One staff answered the survey, saying that a customer threatened him with physical harm, saying he was once imprisoned for murder. Other workers said their offices had to hire security guards to help keep angry customers at bay and maintain order in the offices. 

Staff and budgets cut didn’t help the situation. The government has imposed budget cuts to save money. Employees of the Department of Human Services have been reduced to 40,000 in 2011. The number is expected to go down to 38,000 this year until 2013. 

The cuts have also resulted to work backlogs and slower decision-making process. These delays have certainly contributed to customers’ hostility and aggression to workers. 

Nadine Flood, National Secretary of the Community of Public Sector Union, said the report is an eye-opener. Flood added that these issues must be addressed soon.

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