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Public Administration News  
Australian Government Fast-tracks Mobile Services
Source: egov.vic.gov.au
Source Date: Monday, August 12, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Australia
Created: Aug 13, 2013

An Australian government Department of Human Services mobile app traffic download has hit the one million mark Mobile apps. This marks an upswing in the way citizens are accessing social benefits using smartphones and iPads.

The award-winning Express Plus mobile service, offered by Centrelink under the Department of Human Services, is enabling consumers to use smartphones and mobile devices to download benefits and track government services.

Centrelink delivers wide-ranging payment and services to Australians. This demographic includes retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, and people with disabilities.

In 2011–12 the Department of Human Services administered AU$144.7 billion in payments or around 39 percent of government outlays.

Self managed services

The agency is moving face-to-face and phone transactions to “self-managed” services. This involves an expanded use of online services, as well as smartphones and mobile devices.

Ms Kathryn Campbell, Secretary, Department of Human Services, earlier noted that customers expect they can manage their affairs using online and mobile apps.

“This shift in expectations offers us an opportunity to achieve greater efficiencies and make our services easier to access for the majority of our customers.”

A central plank of improved service delivery is better access to mobile communications, according to a Department of Human Services’ Strategic Plan 2012-2016. Mobile communications offer the ability to download services and information in an anywhere, anytime environment.

Growth in mobile apps

Every day, nearly 94,000 people are using mobile apps to complete common transactions. These include reporting income, tracking payment history or changing personal contact details.

Since its launch, Express Plus is supporting transactions for different age groups. These include downloads for retirees using an iPad to track news, or students updating course information on smartphones.

Under its citizen engagement initiative, the Department of Human Services seeks to provide ‘always-on’ online and mobile services.

Among other upgrades, a document lodgement feature enables subscribers to photograph documents, such as pay slips, rent statements or proof-of-birth details. They can upload this information directly to Centrelink using a mobile app. This defrays the time and cost involved in visiting an office.

Big ticket IT upgrades

Under recent upgrades, the Department of Human Services is modernising its Child Support Payment System. This upgrade, initiated in July 2013, is supported by an AU$102.2 million, five-year funding package.

The current system, in place for over a decade, is at the end of its proposed lifespan. The Child Support Payment System upgrade is expected to be up and running by December 2015. Other enhancements are planned through to June 2018.

Another AU$16.2 million is earmarked over two years to modernise Centrelink’s Income Security Integrated System. This system supports assessments and delivery of income support and family payments to more than seven million people.

Centrelink support payments account for more than half a billion dollars being deposited into bank accounts each day. 

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