Last week’s Echonetdaily article regarding Centrelink’s announcement of no changes to existing face-to-face services at its Byron centre was inaccurate, according to youth worker Nicqui Yazdi.
‘They are no longer taking bookings for face-to-face interviews in Byron and they will be referring these interviews to other areas, mainly Brunswick Heads. I have known about this for six months now and all of their staff are aware of this also and all are aware of where they are moving to. They just aren’t allowed to talk about it with the media.’
After seeking clarification of Ms Yazdi’s claim, the Department of Human Services’ Brian Small told Echonetdaily this week that services had indeed been reduced some time ago.
Bruns processes new claims only
‘Brunswick Heads already conducts all new claim appointments for both the Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay area and this has been occurring for the past 18 months.’
Echonetdaily understands that ‘current services’ is the keyword to explaining the confusion, as the latest refurbishments and new computers will not result in reduced face-to-face services – that has been happening ‘for the past 18 months’.
‘Byron Bay service centre continues to hold regular appointments with job seekers,’ says Mr Small.
‘By increasing the capacity for customers to use self-service facilities, staff will have more time to spend with those customers requiring more intensive support.’
Concerns for elderly, young and disabled
Ms Yazdi is concerned that the changes will have a big impact on the elderly, young and disabled.
‘The fact is that anyone without transport is going to be in a bad situation, having to catch a bus to Mullum then another to Brunswick and again returning the same way.
‘This will also create a major headache for anyone working with high-needs clients, young people, mental health, disability support etc, as it often takes many return visits and collection of lots of paperwork from banks, real estate agents to get help for these people.’
Mr Small defended any potential lack of services to the disadvantaged, however did not comment on the Shire’s lack of transport.
‘People facing hardship or those in exceptional circumstances have always and will continue to be given immediate and personal access to support at the Byron Bay service centre.’
Ms Yazdi added that, from her understanding, ‘The Byron office will only be a self-serve kiosk, with limited supervision and no interviews’.