20 Nov Filling in Forms – New Research
Filling in forms has long been a barrier for parts of the community accessing services. Forms have increased in number, become more complex and become digitised. This requires higher level literacy and digital literacy skills in order access critical financial support, housing and health services which meet basic needs.
COVID-19 and the recent bushfire crisis have meant many people not previously engaging with government services are now facing complex forms. 44% of Australians have literacy levels that would make it difficult to complete a large number of government forms. In many cases, there is little or no assistance offered for those seeking help.
So, who helps all the people who are struggling to complete these forms?
The Hotline has noticed an increase in calls coming from community sector workers looking for assistance for their clients facing literacy barriers. This prompted the Hotline to partner with NCOSS to examine the extent to which community organisations are providing this support, and how this unrecognised issue impacts both their clients and their workforce. The report makes recommendations to ensure those who are seeking assistance can do so, and that the hidden costs of providing this assistance to complete forms does not fall solely on the community services sector.