People lined up in front of Centrelink, Ballina, on Monday.
People lined up in front of Centrelink, Ballina, on Monday.

Jobseekers advised to stay calm on long welfare queues

SOCIAL Futures CEO Tony Davies has called for some calm amid the chaos at Centrelink on Monday.

The MyGov site crashed under the weight of hundreds of thousands of Australians desperate for income relief as the government essentially announced a sweeping shutdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Job-hunters eager to get their hands on the stimulus relief package were queued out the front of local Centrelink offices at Lismore and Ballina on Monday, and security guards enforced social distancing to ensure people were spaced 1.5m apart in the line.

Social Futures CEO Mr Tony Davies. Photo: Marc Stapelberg
Social Futures CEO Mr Tony Davies. Photo: Marc Stapelberg

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Mr Davies said.

“The most important thing is that everyone remains calm.

“It is good to see there is support in place for jobseekers.”

Mr Davies sympathised with people affected by MyGov outages or long queues.

“We hope the government can work on that,” he said.

“At the moment there is unprecedented demand for these services.”

The unemployment rate has been tipped to rise to seven per cent by the end of the year but many believe these figures are modest as it was revealed last night pubs, clubs and even gyms would close from today, leaving a huge workforce in limbo.

Mr Davies welcomed changes to Newstart, which he has been lobbying for.

He said Social Futures would continue to operate in a modified capacity in upcoming weeks.

“Our organisation provides essential services, we are looking very hard at how we can provide it via telephone,” Mr Davies said.

“That won’t happen overnight.”

Centrelink is bringing on an extra 5000 staff, who will mainly work at call centres to support jobseekers with their online applications.

More to come