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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1732 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

have made from opposition and, more recently, in government. As a result of the customer commitment program, the Canberra region will be a better place in which to live and to do business. The services the Government provides will be more in line with the interests of the people. After all, it is the people of the ACT who pay for the ACT public service and it is on their behalf that the Government provides services.

This program is about cultural change. It is about the manner in which our public servants relate to customers and about making clear to our customers the standard of service they should expect. It will involve improving standards of service in all front-line jobs, for example, counter staff, bus drivers, parking inspectors, teachers, nurses, welfare workers, and all of our office staff who have direct contact with members of the community. It will mean that our staff will not be leaving ringing phones unanswered or shuffling customers from one area to another when they want to make an inquiry. Our officers are committing to being friendly, open and helpful in every dealing they have with customers. There is particularly a need to follow up on customers' requests, to ensure that they are being attended to and, in cases where there are delays, that an interim reply is sent, informing of the reasons for the delay and when a final reply can be expected. The program is aimed at ensuring that all of our customers, no matter what their need, will feel valued, be provided with more personalised service, and know that every effort has been made to assist them. We also want customers to know right from the start how to make suggestions or complaints that will be listened to.

This cultural change will involve a commitment from all staff to providing better service, not just at the point of service but also at all stages in which the service is developed. The program is about letting the customers tell us what they want. This will mean a more open relationship between customers or stakeholders and public servants, with free and full exchange of information. In this way we will be able to find out what the public wants from us in the way services are provided and we will be able to let the public know what we can realistically provide. It will mean changing from thinking like a big bureaucracy to thinking like a regional or city council, more attuned to providing responsive and relevant services to the ACT community.

The ACT public service's current operational structures and arrangements are not well suited in many cases to providing the best customer service. There is too much emphasis on the systems that provide or support a service rather than on the service itself. But it is the service the customer is interested in, not the systems that provide it. There is a need to focus on the level and quality of service and when the service can be expected. There is a need to examine delays in processing times for applications, approvals, payments, licences and so on. The customer commitment program will cut red tape. This will involve agencies in re-examining support systems and internal processes. The Government has already put in place major changes in organisational structures which emphasise our customer focus. Further change will take place through the customer commitment program. All of this activity will be directed at providing a better level of customer service. The Government is not asking the public service to do more in the customer commitment program. What it is asking the public service is to do things differently from the way they have done them in the past. We want public servants to think of themselves as a customer, to ask what they would expect as a customer, and to change the way a service is provided to meet that expectation.

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