The Department of Human Services is changing service delivery arrangements on the far south coast.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said the department is calling for expressions of interest to establish an Agent service in Merimbula.
“Agents are contracted to deliver services and programs on behalf of the department,” Mr Jongen said.
“They play a vital role in the delivery of face-to-face support for basic Medicare and Centrelink services in rural and remote Australia.”
Mr Jongen said the move coincided with a significant drop in demand for face-to-face Medicare services in Merimbula.
“As a consequence, staff and services from the Merimbula Service Centre will relocate to the Bega Service Centre in the near future, with basic Medicare and Centrelink services in Merimbula to be delivered by an Agent,” Mr Jongen said.
“The number of customers coming into the Merimbula Service Centre has more than halved over the past two years, to the point where it has the lowest foot-traffic in the country.
“It reflects a downward trend across the country that has been driven partly as a result of the move away from cash rebates in Medicare Service Centres, and the growth in alternative claiming options, such as claiming at your doctor’s surgery.
“This falling demand for face to face Medicare services, coupled with the impending end of lease on the Merimbula Drive property, meant we had to make a decision about the best use of our resources for the broader community.”
Mr Jongen said the Merimbula Agent will join a network of more than 350 Agents across the country.
“Customers will be able to submit a claim for a Centrelink payment or a Medicare rebate, lodge documents with the department and access online and phone self-service options and information.”
Expressions of interest to host the Agent service in Merimbula have been advertised in local papers this week and close on Friday 18 September 2015.
A decision on a date for relocating the Merimbula Service Centre will be made once the expression of interest process has been finalised.