The MyGov website has once again received a user capacity boost from Services Australia after the demand for the website exceeded government expectations. In the wake of the coronavirus epidemic Australians are increasingly reporting job losses, and the need for welfare services is growing. The capacity boost for MyGov means that the website can now handle up to 300,000 concurrent users, up from an initial user base of just 6,000 users.
As Government services minister Stuart Robert noted to media this week, MyGov was only able to handle 6,000 users as of two and a half weeks ago — long after the coronavirus epidemic had already begun claiming Australian jobs.
The platform enables Australians to access government support through services Centrelink and Medicare and is vital for those needing urgent financial care. As job loses continue, Centrelink has become a lifeline for struggling Australians.
When the rush for support first began, MyGov’s infrastructure was upgraded to support 55,000 concurrent users, but even this was not enough.
The MyGov website was not able to handle the first wave of redundancies with attempts to access welfare in mid-March causing a total system shutdown. This lack of available capacity was originally attributed by Roberts to a DDoS attack, but it was later proven to be an issue with the website infrastructure itself.
In response to these initial problems, the MyGov website has been given incremental capacity boosts to handle the load. With Australia’s unemployment rate predicted to hit 10 per cent over the coming months, MyGov is an essential service for providing people with a living wage and financial advice — and it needs reliable, high capacity infrastructure to support these changes.
Up to 780,000 Australians have already lost jobs, with more expected as businesses fail to whether the challenges coronavirus.
While Services Australia are now making essential changes to how MyGov operates, its incremental capacity upgrades suggest unemployment rates were far more widespread than the government predicted.
In March, Roberts admitted to oversight on the part of Services Australia. “We prepared, over the weekend, for 55,000 I didn’t think I’d have to prepare for 100,000 concurrent users,” he told 2GB at the time.
Now that number, and the need for MyGov’s services, has climbed significantly.
The initial failings of Services Australia to monitor MyGov’s capacity needs appropriately has caused doubts around the government’s approach to dealing with coronavirus via its technology infrastructure.
In a time when this same infrastructure is being touted as the only way out of lockdown in Australia, credibility and reliability are essential.
For now, it appears MyGov’s website will be able to handle any future influxes — although with the landscape constantly changing, we may see further change on the horizon.
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