The Hon. J.S. LEE (14:53): My question is to the Minister for Human Services regarding ConcessionsSA efficiencies. Can the minister provide an update to the council about how the state government has cut red tape for people accessing concession payments?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:53): Thank you, Mr President.
The PRESIDENT: Leader of the Opposition, if you want to have a conversation with the Hon. Mr Ridgway you can do it out the back. I would like to hear from the minister.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Thank you, Mr President. I thank the honourable member for her question. Part of the commitment of the Marshall Liberals prior to being elected to government was to provide better services, and I am very pleased that we are able to say that we are delivering in the concession space for people who are on low and fixed incomes.
We commissioned an external review of ConcessionsSA in 2018, which examined the application, verification, payment, auditing and reconciliation processes of managing household concessions to improve efficiencies. The results have demonstrated that they are proving to have done just that for South Australian households.
We have been able to reduce, in the 12-month period from July 2018 to June 2019, the number of forms, pages, questions and all of the paperwork that households have been previously required to submit to ConcessionsSA in order to apply for their concessions, effectively halve the number of forms and questions and reduce the number of questions from 40 down to 14. The estimation of the physical pages that the Department of Human Services used to require per annum was in the order of 350,000; that is now down to 100,000. Also, the number of online forms submitted has increased, so reducing the physical paperwork. That has now gone from 26 per cent to 43 per cent.
The very important measure for households and consumers themselves is that the application processing time has reduced from two months down to less than a week. We are also, as a result, not requiring as many phone calls to the service because clearly customers are receiving a more efficient service and, therefore, the calls to the hotline have been reduced. The data that I have in front of me is that, in 2017-18, there were some 179,976 calls received. In 2018-19, that has reduced to 112,050. As a consequence, the number of abandoned calls has also reduced, as well as those that would have been blocked because people couldn't get through.
The staff who work in ConcessionsSA are to be commended for their efforts in doing this. We have also had feedback from the non-government sector that indicates that financial counsellors are appreciating that they are finding the service easier to navigate on behalf of their clients, and clients are clearly getting a better service. We continue to look for process improvements as part of continuous improvement and look forward to providing more details and better services as part of the Marshall Liberal government.