media release 


28 February 2022   


Next Government must take next steps to improve financial security for older women says HESTA


In the lead up to International Women’s Day, industry superannuation fund HESTA is calling on Australia’s next Government to make women’s financial security a top priority.


At the Improving Financial Security for Older Women roundtable today, attended by Sen. Jane Hume, Minister for Women’s Economic Security and Minister for Superannuation, and leading women’s, community and business organisations, HESTA will outline three urgent policy reforms.


In the first 100 days of Government HESTA is calling for Australia’s next government to prioritise paying superannuation on Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay. HESTA will also be pushing for:


  • a carer’s credit to be introduced for unpaid parental leave, and
  • universally accessible and affordable childcare.


“There have been some significant reforms such as abolishing the $450 wages threshold for superannuation and improved super splitting arrangements, however, more needs to be done to improve financial security for future generations of women,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said.


“An incoming Government needs to prioritise long-overdue superannuation equity measures and boost women’s workforce participation through improved access to affordable childcare,”


“Addressing gender inequity will not only create a better society but has real economic benefits that can help investors like HESTA deliver better outcomes for their members,” Ms Blakey said.


Ms Blakey said that, compared to men, women currently have lower workforce participation and earn 14.2% less, with these inequities a drag on Australia’s economic potential.


“Women are also making an enormous economic and social contribution through the amount of unpaid caring roles they undertake. They shouldn’t be financially penalised with inadequate super savings and a greater vulnerability to poverty as they age.”


“We have an opportunity, as Australia starts to recover from the pandemic, to create a better normal. Taking substantive action now to address these persisting inequalities will make for a fairer Australia but will also boost productivity and economic growth, which benefits everyone,” Ms Blakey said.


1.    Pay Superannuation on Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay

Parental leave is the only commonly taken form of paid leave that does not include superannuation, sending a clear message that paid caring work is undervalued.

Women take 93.5% of primary carer’s leave[1] which consequently disadvantages them and further exacerbates their financial insecurity in retirement. It is also one of the primary reasons why women retire on average with one-third less super than men.

Modelling shows that paying superannuation on the Commonwealth parental scheme would give a mother of two $14,000[2] more super at retirement which could be life-changing for low and middle-income earners.


2.    Introduce a superannuation ‘Carer Credit’ for unpaid parental leave

In addition to superannuation on paid parental leave, the introduction of a ‘Carer Credit’ would compensate parents for superannuation lost due to unpaid parental leave.

Women perform 80% more unpaid work at home each week than men[3]. Unpaid time out of the workforce to care for others has a significant impact on women’s financial security in retirement but even a small boost to a primary carer’s superannuation could create huge potential long‑term benefits at retirement.


3.    Provide universally accessible and affordable childcare

Universal access to quality, flexible early childhood education and care (ECEC) until children start school would help boost workforce participation for women with young children. Women’s workforce participation rate when the youngest child is 0-5 years is almost 28.2% below that of fathers, and 12.2% lower where the youngest child is 6-14 years[4]



HESTA policy priorities: improving financial security for women in retirement









HESTA is the largest superannuation fund dedicated to Australia’s health and community services sector. More than half of those working in the sector nationally invest their retirement savings with HESTA. An industry fund that’s run only to benefit members, HESTA now has more than 900,000 members (over 80% are women) and manages over $68 billion in assets invested around the world.


HESTA is committed to creating a real difference to the financial future of every member. As a responsible steward of their members’ retirement savings, HESTA focuses on achieving strong, sustainable, long-term returns while making a positive difference to the world members will retire into. HESTA is the acronym for Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia and should appear in capitals.


[1] WGEA - It’s the luck of the draw for parental leave – 2019

[2] Industry Super Australia - Putting members and their financial interests first, December 2021

[3] WGEA Women’s economic security in retirement – 2020

[4] The Parenthood/Equity Economics, 2021, Back of the Pack: How Australia’s Parenting Policies Are Failing Women & Our Economy



Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


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