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Denise McConnachie


My experience is that the Australian public service has become less and less accessible to the public it ostensibly serves. In trying to make inquiries on matters that directly concern my family and friends, I first always trawl through the appropriate websites. When I cannot find the answer there, I look for a contact phone number on the website. These phone numbers are difficult to find these days. When I find a phone number, when calling I first must endure an automated telephone tree that tries to categorise my inquiry. This works ok if my inquiry is a neat fit with the categories available, but otherwise I am directed into a confusing maze which provides circular advice. Typically, I have found my inquiry is eventually directed by a non human automated message which usually tells me to go to the website. Since that is exactly where I started my inquiry, I get very frustrated with the telephone robots. Usually, I just give up and make my best guess as to what the answer to my question might be. I presume that someone (probably a robot) will let me know, eventually, if I have made a mistake. I deplore the loss of human contact, where a human being with an intellect and a voice can unpick more complex or ambiguous questions and creatively work out the pathway that is needed for my inquiry to be dealt with. It seems that the APS is increasingly putting robots out front in order to insulate public servants from us, the public. Whilst there is a place for robots in delivering services, i believe that in the end people will always prefer to deal with people.