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Issue relating to Oral Advice

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This may result in the risk of poor quality oral advice being passed on to the client. What internal agency support mechanisms need to be in place to improve and maintain the standard of oral counseling by agencies (ie staff training and information technology support).

Oral advice: let the client beware

Mrs W says the possibility of her husband being eligible for a disability pension (which has less stringent income limits) was not mentioned. The client must request a review of the decision within three months from the adoption of the decision, even if the agency is solely responsible for the error and/or the client could not have known about the error.

An alternative service charter

Six of the centers are located outside DSS premises (four in shopping centres, one in a community center and one in a van). Mrs A could not understand many of the decisions and was given little information about the basis for the decisions.

New practices and procedures

Mr and Mrs M's son died in 1993 while serving in the Defense Forces. Mr and Mrs M claimed to have received the same advice from a Ministry of Defense officer and a Navy welfare officer. The M's also stated that they were not advised by Comsuper to seek independent advice on the tax treatment of the payment.

Fortunately, the ATO has since advised that it will not seek recovery of the tax debt. Comsuper has since advised staff to tell beneficiaries to seek advice from the ATO on the tax treatment of such payments and has updated its written advice to the same effect. In addition, under legislation passed in late 1996, a person's claim can be returned to the date of their investigation (provided their claim has been accepted in writing by the Department).

This advice should be given sooner rather than later, as requests cannot be returned before the filing date. The customer will then have a fixed period within which to submit a full claim, which (provided the customer was eligible on the day the preliminary details were provided) is backdated to the initial contact date. These journals provide information about the range of benefits and pensions within a benefit category.

Accountability for oral advice

However, like the release of the reference code, this merely demonstrates that an interaction occurred, not what the nature of the interaction was or what advice was or was not given. In a pro-forma format, Sydney WRC categorises the nature of the client's inquiry (and the agency it relates to) through a series of checkboxes, then records the key advice given to each client. Importantly, the WRC also considers it crucial to record that clients have been informed of the limitations of the advice given (for example, when written advice should be sought).

A query may be formulated in general terms, but its connection to eligibility or eligibility may be clear in the context of a particular conversation. Before signing the contract to build the unit, Ms. E visited the DSS office and again asked for rental assistance. Considering that this was the second confirmation of her eligibility, she signed the contract for the construction of the block.

Experience shows that there are areas where the registration of opinions has been insufficient in the past. The most difficult aspect of the recording is the question(s) asked and the advice given, but it should be possible to record this information (at least in part) by means of codes or ticks, either electronically or on paper, as is done in the Sydney WRC. This is partly the reason for switching to appointments for regional offices; employees can then prepare for these customers.

Quality assurance

Ms A rang the ATO's Northbridge office and asked if she could switch to the new method of claiming for UPP in light of the conditions of TR 93/13. The ATO responded by saying that it believed the ruling on the substitution issue was clear and that branches had been informed of the question and the correct answer. In some cases where the correct advice was given, it only took a few seconds for the answer to be given, showing that the information retrieval systems were working well.

Although useful, it does not take into account the concerns of clients whose claims for compensation are unsuccessful, and it is not clear that the information obtained from various sources (eg ARO reviews, appeals and external complaints) reviewed in an integrated way in the past. The advice was provided orally and the Department gave no warning that written confirmation should be requested. It appears that part of the thinking was that the owner should have relied only on written advice and taken more steps to protect herself.

He agreed that there were clear shortcomings in the advice given to Mrs L and the fact that the advice was given orally did not remove the Ministry's responsibility for that advice. However, he also believed that Mrs L was not sufficiently careful in her inquiries in relation to the acquisition of The exception should be where the agency states that the advice must be tested in writing and the agency should be responsible for advising a client of the need for this.

Support for staff giving oral advice

Other opportunities may be available with the introduction of the Internet, such as dramatically different ways of communicating with external stakeholders and new ways for clients to provide information to DSS and submit claims ..'26. Unfortunately, we are aware that the current status of the trial is undetermined, while issues with IT resources and strategy are undetermined. CCPS (Client Claims Processing System)', which cut claims processing time in half in the September 1994 quarter.

For example, in the past, many CSA complaints related to the CSA's failure to keep information about the change up to date. Problems related to resourcing for teleservice centers in the DSS were highlighted in the ANAO report. Therefore, in-house trainers at the centers were left to develop their own training programs.

In the future, all new employees will undergo customer training before being hired. This raises the question of whether staff classification levels are appropriate in terms of the overall firm structure and strategic plan, and whether there is sufficient variety and career opportunities for these staff. This specialization in certain categories of benefits has disadvantages not only for customers (for example, a reduction in the service's ability to allow other operators to handle calls when demand for operators in one category peaks),28 but also for staff - it offers them less opportunity for diversification, career advancement and improving their skills base.

Legal issues

It is undoubtedly easier to establish a claim if there is a record of the advice given. 33 Section 34A of the Audit Act 1901 is the provision governing the law of grace payments by the Commonwealth. It is not disputed that as a result of the department's error there was a gross underpayment of the pensioner's applicable payment rate of several thousand dollars.

The ministry has admitted a grave mistake and is relying on the bare bones of the law to justify its refusal to provide adequate compensation. The AAT found that the statutory time limit for appeal was irrelevant because the error was the sole responsibility of the Department. Nevertheless, the AGS remains of the view that Jones is applicable and must therefore be taken into account by the Commonwealth.

The reality is that applying the Jones case produces unreasonable and unjust results for some individuals. In my opinion, such an approach misses the point. The crux of the scheme is whether or not the agency's administration was deficient.

The secretary of the department initially agreed to pay Mr G's estate out of favor to make up for the loss of Mr G's pension. 47 Section 34A of the Audit Act 1901 is the provision applicable to Commonwealth deferral payments.

Summary of recommendations

The reference number system currently in place for existing DSS clients (allowing the client's caller and the operator they spoke to to be identified) should be extended to people calling to inquire about potential. Agencies are implementing strategies to ensure a higher level of recording of oral advice where there are indications that there is an increased risk (either to the client or the agency) of incorrect or ambiguous advice. Customers should be advised of the remedies available when these standards are not met and any limitations on remedies.

Agencies have procedures in place that allow for a systematic and integrated assessment of complaints about oral advice. accompanied by arrangements for dealing with cases where an agency becomes aware that incorrect advice may have been given to a client, but the client may not be aware of the problem. The development of “expert systems” should continue to better support and advise employees, customers and potential customers. Those programs should emphasize the need to provide accurate and complete advice tailored to the needs of the client.

Staff responsible for providing oral advice must be appropriately classified and have access to appropriate career development and staff development. The legislation should be amended to require agencies to ensure that when clients are notified of a decision, they are given sufficient information to enable them to make an informed judgment as to whether the decision has been made. favorable or not) is correct. There should be a transparent and predictable approach to assessing liability for incorrect or ambiguous oral advice that results in financial loss to a client.

Appendix A

References

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