Australians are getting angrier at Centrelink workers.
On average, the government workers make about 22 reports of aggressive clients a day.
Between July 2014 and May 2015, they made 8340 reports about customer aggression.
That used to be 7500 in the 2012/13 financial year.
The abuse is sometimes so serious, police are called or an alarm is activated.
Two workers this year have claimed worker’s compensation for the duress they faced.
Unions say staff cutbacks are putting their workers in harm’s way.
“When you sack thousands of public sector workers, that leads to longer queues, millions of phone calls going unanswered and growing frustration and aggression from customers,” CPSU deputy national president Lisa Newman said in a statement.
But the Department of Human Services says the number of incidents could be lower because more than one staff member can report a single case.
It puts the growth down to staff being encouraged to submit reports.
The department said many of its customers experienced difficult circumstances in their lives, and the causes of aggression were complex.
Staff are given counselling and strategies to deal with aggressive clients.
In call centres, they’re advised to call the angry customer back at a later time, transfer the call to a supervisor, warn the client or hang up.
CUSTOMER AGGRESSION REPORTS
2011-12 : 5848
2012-13 : 7507
2013-14 : 8796
2014-15 : 8340 (to May 31)
REPORTS WHERE ALARM USED
2014-15: 913 (to May 31)
REPORTS WHERE POLICE CALLED:
2014-15: 853 (to May 31)