Women fleeing domestic violence will be granted early access to their super under sweeping changes instigated by the minister for women, Kelly O’Dwyer.
As part of the women’s economic security statement, O’Dwyer announced $109m in funding aimed at assisting women bridge the gender pay gap, while addressing the financial disadvantages of leaving an abusive situation.
The government will also continue to support the Good Shepherd micro-finance no-interest loan scheme, to help with the purchase of household items, rental bond and other necessities in setting up a new home, while also providing $50.4m in new mediation services to help resolve separations faster.
“Even though we have come a long way, we still want Australian women to be able to do even better,” O’Dwyer said.
“We want to ensure that women can build their financial security to help them choose their own path, so they and their families can live their best lives.
“These new measures will help give women and their families greater choice and will also help grow the Australian economy.
“When women do well, their families do well, and our economy and nation prosper.”
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) welcomed the domestic violence measures announced by the Government, but said the economic package fell short of improving retirement outcomes for women.
AIST chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said it was disappointing that the Government had backed away from including key measures to help many Australian women achieve a more dignified retirement.
“Women need economic security throughout their lives, which includes financial security for an increasingly long retirement,” Ms Scheerlinck said.
“The broken work patterns of many women, coupled with the persistent gender pay gap, mean there is an urgent need for targeted measures to prevent many Australian women retiring in poverty.”
Key measures that the AIST had called for to include in the package were:
• Abolition of the $450 monthly income threshold for compulsory super payments;
• Paying super on paid parental leave – this is the only form of leave that doesn’t attract super;
• Providing low income earners, most of whom are women, with an additional super contribution. Modelling shows this would make the biggest difference to closing the gender retirement gap which sits at over 40 per cent; and
• A firm commitment to move to 12 per cent compulsory super in accordance with the legislated timetable, which is very important to improve retirement outcomes for women.
Ms Scheerlinck also welcomed the move to improve the visibility of super assets in family law proceedings, which she said would help women achieve fairer financial outcomes by reducing costs and delays in the courts.
What do you think of the Government’s economic security statement for women? Does it do enough to close the gender pay gap? What measures would you like to have seen included?