4.11 Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services (DHS) was created on 26 October 2004 as part of the Finance Portfolio to improve the development and delivery of government social and health related services to the Australian people. DHS is currently a department of state in the Social Services Portfolio.

DHS delivers services through its Centrelink, Medicare, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services (CRS) Australia, and child support programmes. Australian Hearing is a non-general government sector entity overseen by the Department.

The Minister administers three pieces of legislation: the Human Services (Medicare) Act 1973; the Human Services (Centrelink) Act 1997; and the Australian Hearing Services Act 1991 (except to the extent administered by the Minister for Health).

DHS receives total resourcing of $7.2 billion of which $4.3 billion is departmental funding and $2.8 billion is administered funding.

DHS merged with its portfolio agencies (Centrelink and Medicare Australia) in 2011 and is now the second largest department in the Commonwealth with staffing of around 30,700, operating 598 service centres.

Table 4.11.1: Departmental resourcing: Department of Human Services

Funding ($'000)

Staffing

Entity

Departmental

Administered

Total

ASL

Department of Human Services

           4,332,821

           2,839,208

            7,172,029

       30,707

DEPARTMENT

4,332,821

2,839,208

7,172,029

30,707

Source: Department of Finance. 201314 Budget updated for machinery of government changes.

For many Australians, DHS represents the frontline of government. In 2012-13, the Department made cash payments of $147.8 billion on behalf of other agencies.

Social security and welfare expenditure comprises a significant proportion of departmental expenditure. This component consists predominantly of family (Family Tax Benefit) and income support (Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Newstart) payments.

Centrelink also delivers a range of other government payments and services for carers, Indigenous Australians and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and provides services at times of major change.

Primary health transaction types and volumes provided in 2012-13 include:

  • Medicare services (344 million services were processed under the Medicare Benefits Schedule representing $18.6 billion in benefits);
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (211.1 million services were processed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, representing $9.5 billion in benefits);
  • Private Health Insurance rebates (6.5 million memberships registered with cash claims of $1.9 million paid directly to individuals and total private health fund payments of $5.2 billion);
  • the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (5.0 million immunisation episodes recorded at 30 June 2013); and
  • the Australian Organ Donor Register (at 30 June 2013 more than 5.9 million people had registered their organ or tissue donation decision, compared with just over 5.8 million in 2011–12).

Child support provides support to separated parents to provide the financial and emotional support necessary for their children’s wellbeing. In 2012-13, $3.4 billion was transferred in child support for 1.2 million children.

Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services (CRS) Australia, a division in the Department, provides disability employment services to help people with a disability, injury or health condition to find and/or maintain their employed status, and their employers to keep the workplace safe. In 2013, CRS Australia employed around 1,200 full time equivalent staff in 180 offices.

Australian Hearing is a separate body, which assists hearing impaired people by assessing hearing, fitting hearing devices and providing counselling and rehabilitative programmes for eligible clients. Australian Hearing is a self supporting agency and its costs are not reflected in the DHS Portfolio. The body has 1,141 employees.