Centrelink, Medicare merge for budget hotline

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Centrelink, Medicare merge for budget hotline

Single number for Human Services agencies during budget rush.

Callers to Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support Agency or any other Federal Government agency under the Department of Human Services will be directed to a single phone number to handle the response to tonight's Federal budget.

All information from the agencies on the implications of the budget - in which healthcare is likely to form a key component - will be available via the Department's website tonight or on 13 24 68 from tomorrow morning.

The hotline is the first step in a strategy announced by Human Services Minister Chris Bowen in December 2009, in which the IT infrastructure, call centres and other supporting infrastructure of all agencies within the portfolio will be consolidated over 2010.

The single phone line and email is a "proof of concept trial" for the integration of this infrastructure, set up specifically to handle an expected surge of calls tomorrow on the back of tonight's budget announcement.

Should the budget have significant implications for healthcare (Medicare) or welfare (Centrelink) - both of which are likely given the hotline - concerned Australians can discover implications for them in one place.

Hank Jongen, services portfolio general manager at the DHS told iTnews that the call centres of the DHS' various agencies are yet to be consolidated.

"Based on previous year's Budget initiatives affecting DHS Portfolio agencies, and the functionality of the telephony platform across the Portfolio, it was determined that Centrelink would host the services offered through this proof of concept," he said.

Jongen said the proof of concept trial will determine the direction of future call centre consolidation within the department.


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