The Department of Human Services has announced changes to its services for Lake Macquarie residents.
From Tuesday, 29 March 2016, staff from the Belmont Service Centre within Belmont Central Shopping Centre will relocate to the much larger Charlestown Service Centre at 331 Charlestown Road to form a new one-stop shop.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said Charlestown joins more than 200 locations across the country offering access to convenient, coordinated Medicare and Centrelink services under the same roof.
“Moving services from Belmont to Charlestown reflects the significant changes in the way customers are now choosing to claim their Medicare rebate,” Mr Jongen said.
“There has been a decline in the number of people visiting our service centres, including Belmont Service Centre, largely due to the move away from cash rebates for Medicare services in 2012, and the growing number of people claiming their rebate electronically at the doctor’s surgery.
“While a very basic Centrelink service is also currently offered from Belmont, customers are referred to the Charlestown Service Centre for assistance with complex matters, meaning they’re already making the short trip to complete their Centrelink business.
“These reasons, combined with the end of our lease at the Belmont Central Shopping Centre, have contributed to the decision to consolidate our services at Charlestown.”
Nationally, more than 96 per cent of all Medicare claims are now lodged electronically, with most at the point of service, and Mr Jongen encouraged residents to claim routine rebate items straight from the doctor’s surgery.
“The Lake Macquarie area is well serviced with practices that offer this facility, and if your doctor doesn’t, then you should ask them why,” Mr Jongen said.
“Many residents don’t have to travel to a service centre, and I’d encourage them to check out the range of digital services that enable them to do much of their government business where and when it suits them.
“For instance, they can make a claim for common rebate items online through myGov and the Department’s Express Plus mobile apps.
“However, staff at Charlestown will always be available to provide face-to-face services to people who require more intensive or personalised support.”
The Charlestown One-Stop Shop at 331 Charlestown Road will continue to provide services Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Medicare services currently available alongside the National Disability Insurance Agency will remain at the Hilltop Plaza in Charlestown, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.