Tangible benefits related to the full implementation of DIAC’s Systems for People strategy which pushes streamlined, internet-based service delivery are starting to manifest themselves, with the announcement on 30 July 2010 by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) that it will close its Gold Coast office, staffed by 19 employees, in mid-2011.
The closure of the office and its over-the-counter services will provide DIAC with administrative expenditure savings and follows by DIAC an examination of the range and level of services provided by the office. The demographics of the client base, coupled with the extension and enhancement of DIAC’s online capabilities, had led to a reduced need for in-person services, according to DIAC.
“The majority of people currently visiting our Gold Coast office are international students, backpackers and tourists. The services they receive are largely available without having to make a physical visit, either over the phone or via our website” said DIAC.
‘Systems for People’ was introduced in mid-2006 in response to the Palmer and Comrie reform agenda following the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau and the wrongful deportation of Vivian Alvarez. The major ICT redevelopment program was intended to improve DIAC’s client focus, enhance decision-making and improve client services through the development of a single system (portal), which will allow DIAC employees to:
- Instantly identify clients and access their full records;
- Follow unified access and operating procedures; and
- Report effectively.
According to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), 38 per cent of Australians prefer to contact government agencies via the internet, followed by in-person and telephone contact (32 per cent and 30 per cent respectively). This was reported in its December 2009 Interacting with Government: Australians’ use and satisfaction with e-government services publication.
AGIMO’s survey also suggested that the traditionally techno-phobic older demographic are increasingly using the internet to interact with government.
The project is due for final release sometime in the next few months, with the original date delayed due to the Federal election on 21 August. A DIAC spokesperson told ZDNet that “it would not be prudent for the department to implement these changes on the same day as the federal election”.