Centrelink is planning to start an online community forum to foster customer engagement and help receive feedback about the department's services.
Dubbed "MyCommunity", the forum will allow users to submit feedback anonymously, as well as share experiences and offer ideas about improving engagement with Centrelink staff.
A spokesperson for Centrelink told Computerworld Australia that the department was looking to launch a pilot of the online community in the foreseeable future, but could not provide a concrete date.
Centrelink's move to open its own forum will complement its existing practice of participating in online communication through external sites, such as other forums, blogs as well as social networks.
"Centrelink monitors traffic in relevant online communities, blogs and forums – listening to customer feedback and contributing where appropriate to answer questions or clear up confusion about Centrelink services, for example student forums, parenting forums and seniors forums," the spokesperson said.
According to the spokesperson, these communities are monitored in-house by Centrelink's media team, though the spokesperson didn't say which forums in particular were monitored. However, it is believed the core motivation behind the monitoring of external community sites is to clear up any misinformation about Centrelink services.
In the proposed MyCommunity site, staff from the department's Communication Division will moderate and administer the forums and topics, and ensure continued communication when clearing up a particular issue.
The spokesperson said the pilot community would only exist for Centrelink initially due to the relative traffic of complaints and concerns, but that the model could expand in the future to other agencies under the Department of Human Services portfolio, as well as other government departments.
The Department of Human Services has traditionally been ahead of other government agencies in implementing web-based services, with the lead on federated access for its portfolio of agencies through the australia.gov.au sites. It has also begun filming and broadcasting live webcasts of certain events, such as the announcement of changes to Youth Allowance.
While some Government 2.0 initiatives like the AGIMO blog from the Department of Finance and Deregulation have been somewhat successful in engaging readers, others - like the Department of Broadband's NBN Implementation Study Wiki - have been largely criticised by the public.