Government lobbied on retirement outcomes for older women
With older single women especially vulnerable to homelessness, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia has urged the government to introduce policies to help improve retirement outcomes for older women in the upcoming budget.
A research paper released by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) indicates that 80 per cent of women continue to retire with insufficient superannuation savings to fund a comfortable retirement.
“The average superannuation balances achieved in the 2015/2016 financial year for persons approaching retirement (age 55 to 59) were $237,022 for men and $123,642 for women,” said ASFA.
ASFA chief executive Dr Martin Fahy said it is important to take steps to close the gap, to ensure women are not condemned to experience poverty, and even homelessness, in retirement.
“Homelessness Australia has identified older single women as one of the groups who are especially vulnerable to experiencing homelessness. Older single women may be forced out the workforce early, have insufficient superannuation to fund the cost of living and face discrimination in the housing market” he said.
“While there have been positive initiatives to help economic security for women in recent years, including the government’s reforms to allow the ability to carry forward unused concessional caps and the refunding of superannuation tax for low income earners, there is more that can be done in this budget.”
One of the measures ASFA has called for is applying SG to income replacement payments to address broken work patterns.
“SG should apply when income is replaced as a result of a workplace or legislative entitlement to receive a salary or wage, such as paid parental leave, salary continuance payments or worker’s compensation,” said ASFA.
ASFA is also calling for the removal of the $450 a month threshold for SG.
“There is currently a threshold where SG doesn’t apply when a worker earns below $450 per month in a particular job,” said Dr Fahy.
“Ensuring all wages attract superannuation will help more low income earners save for their retirement and reflect the changing nature of work.”
ASFA also said that while there is a range of measures when women separate or divorce to protect women’s superannuation, refinements are needed as it can prove difficult for low-income women in particular to enforce their rights under family law.
“Consideration could also be given to allowing women experiencing domestic violence to access some of their superannuation. In addition, changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act can be made to allow employers the flexibility to contribute more in superannuation for women.”