Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes

Coulton’s Catch-up for week ending 14 October

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Digital assistants helping people complete claims online

New digital assistants on the Department of Human Services’ website are answering simple questions and helping people complete their claims for family and student payments online so people don’t have to pick up the phone.
Digital assistant ‘Sam’ is one component of the Government’s $1 billion investment in the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) program. The department has also developed other assistants - 'Oliver’ and ‘Roxy’ - to help recipients and staff.
The aim of the digital assistants is to reduce the number of errors in claims and occasions where people are asked to clarify or provide further information while their claim is being processed.
Since their launch this year, ‘Sam’ has had more than 135,000 conversations with families and students and ‘Oliver’ has handled 191,000 interactions with students.
In addition to recipient facing assistants, ‘Sam’ and ‘Oliver’, processing staff can use ‘Roxy’, who answers complex questions about Student, Carer and Age Pension claims accurately, saving staff from searching through legislation to locate the answer.
The creation of digital assistants is another key initiative to help citizens interact with Centrelink more easily and conveniently.  
It means that people can get answers fast online and not have to phone a call centre.
Along with the 250 new call centre staff and other initiatives, the digital assistants will also help to reduce call wait times by eliminating thousands of calls.
Australian Government begins 2017 Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety
The start of a national survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety will for the first time ask questions on drug-impaired driving and sharing the road with heavy vehicles.
It is the 24th iteration of the Federal Government’s survey, which dates back to 1986, and will help steer policy to improve road safety across Australia.
Results from previous surveys have revealed the major factors that people most commonly identify as being involved in road crashes are speed, inattention, drink driving, driver distraction and fatigue.
In the 2017 survey, a sample of Australians will be asked questions on a range of topics, including attitudes to Random Breath Testing (RBT), roadside drug testing, speed limits and mobile phone use while driving.
The Government is committed to improving road safety, and is also working cooperatively with state and territory governments to assess the effectiveness of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020.
Governments can’t do this alone; everyone using the roads has a responsibility to drive with care.
For more information on the survey, visit

Helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners into work
The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from organisations to deliver in-prison employment services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The Request for Tender for the Time to Work Employment Service 2018–2021 was released late last week.
The Time to Work Employment Service is a direct response to recommendations made in the Prison to Work report, released by the Council of Australian Governments in 2016.
Statistics show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 13 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Government is committed to closing this gap and employment plays a critical role in breaking this cycle.
The Time to Work Employment Service will better prepare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners to find employment, reintegrate into the community and minimise the likelihood of recidivism.
Successful organisations will demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners on their release to enable these organisations to deliver culturally appropriate pre-employment services. Services are expected to commence in the first half of 2018.
The Department of Employment will be holding Request for Tender information sessions (webinars) on 18 and 19 October 2017. Interested organisations can register their interest at: Applications close at 12 noon (AEDT) on 6 November.

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