Hundreds of Braddon locals have signed a petition launched by member for Canberra Alicia Payne earlier this year after it was confirmed the Braddon Centrelink would close in February 2022 when the lease expires.
“No community consultation has yet taken place. This is unacceptable,” Labor MP Payne said.
“The Braddon Shopfront is a vital service for the people of Canberra, specifically for those living in the Inner North and South. Students living in Turner and retirees living in Campbell should not have to travel to Woden or Belconnen in order to access Youth Allowance or the Aged Pension.”
Payne and others protested the closure on Thursday, with Payne branding it an “ideological crusade”.
“We are saying loud and clear - face-to-face services are vital and we need them here in central Canberra,” she said in a post on Facebook.
It comes after the Federal Government ended face-to-face services at the Benalla branch in regional Victoria.
The Benalla centre had shut in early 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, however Services Australia has since confirmed the centre will not reopen in a face-to-face capacity.
Instead, it will act as an “agent service”, meaning visitors will need to access assistance through computers or over the phone.
Services Australia Hank Jongen said the shift means a third party provider will provide the ‘agent’ service at the Benalla Centrelink.
“Customers will be able to visit the Agent and use self-service equipment, scan, print and upload documents and receive advice on how to register for and access digital services with confidence,” Jongen said.
“The Agent service can also connect those local residents who have more complex enquiries directly to a Services Australia staff member using a dedicated phone line.”