News

Petition urges rethink on Medicare closure

OPPOSING CHANGES: Robyn Bannister-Tyrrell outside
OPPOSING CHANGES: Robyn Bannister-Tyrrell outside Rob Williams

MEDICARE Riverlink is the latest branch set to close as the Federal Government shuts stand-alone offices and forces customers to face long queues at a "one-stop shop" at Centrelink or go online for service.

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen yesterday confirmed the Riverlink shopfront would close on November 17 and all eight staff and services would move into the Centrelink building at 78 East Street.

In an unprecedented move, following concerns from customers, Riverlink shopping centre management started a formal petition this week to Federal Parliament to reconsider the closure.

The shopping centre's Facebook page administrator also posted a note on the petition this week, attracting more than 230 supporters and 174 shares.

Riverlink Centre Manager and principal petitioner Jamie Sneyd said the Centrelink building had limited parking and public amenities and elderly customers would have difficulty walking to and from public transport.

Medicare closed at Indooroopilly shopping centre in May and relocated into the Toowong Centrelink office, among more than 150 one-stop-shops that have already opened around the country.

Mr Jongen said customer traffic to the Riverlink Medicare shopfront had dropped by almost 40 per cent during the past two years.

"This coincides with an increase in the number of people taking advantage of alternative ways of doing their Centrelink and Medicare business," Mr Jongen said. "Medicare refunds can be claimed over the phone, online or through the Medicare Express Plus app."

A Community and Public Sector Union spokesman said while the Riverlink closure did not result in immediate job losses, the union's members had broader concerns over the future of Medicare and Centrelink.

"The Department of Human Services has cut more than 4000 jobs in three years, most of them from regional and suburban communities," he said.

"DHS likes to push the internet self-service as an option and it works for many people in the community but it has a duty to ensure that the vulnerable and the aged can still talk to a Medicare or Centrelink staff member about sensitive issues face-to-face rather than deal with a computer screen.

"The department's digital dream is all very well if you don't need to ask any questions."

Riverlink marketing manager Robyn Bannister-Tyrrell said the petition had raised hundreds of signatures each day.

"We want answers," she said. "People deserve to know what is happening and why."

The petition is located outside Zelows at Riverlink.

The facts

  • More than 85% of patient claims for GP services were lodged electronically at the doctor's practice last year.
  • More than 150 combined Medicare-Centrelink offices created since 2009.
  • Department of Human Services has cut more than 4000 jobs in three years.

Topics:  centrelink, medicare, petition, riverlink shopping centre



NRL, QRL and IRL in the spotlight tonight

Manager of Rugby League in Ipswich, Brendon Lindsay (right) is the guest panellist on tonight's the After the 80.

Panel discuss the latest rugby league news

Father's Day: Your photos and tributes

My daughter and her dad, the greatest at making her giggle.

Thank you to all our readers who shared a photo of their dad

Miracle 'rainbow' baby's nightmare start to life

RAY OF SUNSHINE: Baby Aaliyah Jade Burnie with parents Natasha Heilbronn and David Burnie.

Aaliyah's battle against the odds after mum's pregnancy problems

Local Partners

Love is in the air on The Bachelor, but not for Kiki

The Bachelor Australia contestant Kirralee 'Kiki' Morris.

BACHELORETTE bows out gracefully as show enters its final weeks.

A $65,000 bathroom? The Block's incredible budget blow-outs

The Block contestants Julia and Sasha spent a whopping $65,000 on their first renovated room.

TEAMS deliver most expensive en-suites in reno show's history.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Electronic duo Nocturnal Tapes, Lachie Mulligan on electronics and Harry Suttor on guitar and vocals, at their 2015 Dolphin Awards ceremony in Ballina.

Five-day gig guide to the best entertainment in Ipswich

Gympie Muster couch dumps down, but still a problem

TIPPING POINT: After an appalling year of couches being dumped at the end of the last Muster, festival organisers have taken litterbugs to task

EFFORTS to combat post-Muster couch dumping are proving effective

Cryptic crosswords: Top clues to solving them

Your guide to solving the cryptic crosswords in your local paper

How high? Twin 20-storey high-rises plan for "over 50s"

A development application has been lodged with the Fraser Coast Regional Council to build two skyscrapers in Hervey Bay.

Developer says Bay needs to move with the times.

City View Hotel: From a pub to a backpackers

NEW LIFE: Hamish Parker has purchsed the City View Hotel and wants to turn it into an accomodation venue.

Architect picks up a little piece of history for a steal

Pub's run-in with law

OLD LOOK: The City View Hotel in 1914.

Prohibition was an issue Ipswich's police officers took seriously

Selling City View was tough call

Former City View Hotel part-owner Wayne Patch.

Over the years there have been numerous proposals for the building

Bunnings starts demolition of historic foundry buildings

SAWTOOTH GONE: Demolition of Foundry sawtooth shed to make way for new Bunnings building.

Lane and footpath closures will take place

Australia's most expensive balcony and it hasn't been built

Viridian Noosa.

How Noosa millionares' squabble could affect body corporates