More Services Australia staff for Aussies to rely on during emergencies and natural disasters

Minister for Government Services, the Hon. Bill Shorten, is pleased to announce the Labor Albanese Government will provide an additional $588 million in 2022-23, to ensure Services Australia (the Agency) supports Australians during emergencies, particularly when impacted by natural disasters.

“We will be better prepared this coming summer and into the new year. Bitter experience of the last three years of natural disasters shows it is smarter and more economical to pre-position a ready-to-go workforce ahead of disasters, rather than the more expensive ad hoc reaction of assembling a workforce from scratch after the disaster has occurred,” Minister Shorten said.

“We are facing more climate induced emergencies, with many Aussies battling natural disasters in their own backyard.

“Some of these emergencies, floods and fires, have been back to back – with the previous government sitting on their hands and refusing to act.

“Unlike the Coalition, the Labor Albanese Government has a plan to make sure Australians affected by more frequent climate induced natural disaster over the next nine months get the help they need.”

Labor’s plan includes $415.7 million in extra support to Services Australia to support its work in emergency response between 1 July 2022 and 31 January 2023.

The 2,600 additional staff will support Australians with securing payments and support during disasters, including the current floods in South East Australia, as well as the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment and High-Risk Setting Pandemic Payment.

This 2,600-strong workforce will operate until 31 January 2023.

Labor’s plan will enhance service delivery through the deployment of specialised staff to evacuation and recovery centres in communities that have been most impacted by natural disasters, as well as social workers, the Agency’s fleet of Mobile Service Centres and mobile servicing teams.

Services Australia will also receive $60.4 million in 2022-23 to continue an emergency response capability of 850 personnel from 1 February 2023 to 30 June 2023, which will enable the agency to rapidly and efficiently respond to natural disasters in up to 20 local government areas.

This will help to support Services Australia in quickly responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

The Government is also providing $33.8 million for an additional 600 personnel from 1 February 2023 to 30 June 2023 to support activity relating to the lifting of debt pauses and pre-and-post checks for the Agency’s payments.

The Labor Government will also provide $78.5m in 2022-23 related to the step-up in technology and digital services costs, to enable digital customer services to all Australians, wherever and whenever they need it.