CPSU Expresses Concern About Worker Physical Safety

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has expressed concern about the rising number of physical attacks on Centrelink and Medicare staff.

Lisa Newman the CPSU Deputy National President has said that the union will raise its concerns with the government about how to address the increasing occurrence of abuse and physical threats towards workers.

She said that customer aggression at the service centres is the highest it has ever been with 5,900 incidents reported for Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support Agency workers in the 2011-2012 financial year which is 400 more than the previous year.

The CPSU is about to ask the Department of Human Services to increase workers in the services centres to reduce waiting times and reduce the bottlenecks that are currently occurring in reception areas where trouble often begins.

Ms Newman said they believe that there is a strong link between the cutbacks of staff and the increases in aggression. Over the last two years jobs in the Department of human services have decreased by 12% from 41,000 to 36,000.

However the workload for staff has increase and the waiting time for clients has increased. This means that people are getting frustrated as they wait becoming argumentative with staff and even fights breaking out between clients.

She said that workers have been spat on, head-butted, punched, had things thrown at them and received death threats.

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