media release 


31 March 2023   


Super objective must focus on eliminating gender super gap: HESTA


HESTA has called for the objective of super to include a commitment to close the gender super gap to ensure Australia’s retirement system does not entrench inequity and that future reforms deliver better outcomes for women and low-income earners.


In its submission to the Federal Government’s consultation on legislating the objective of super, the $70 billion industry super fund strongly supported the proposed wording of the objective. With almost 80% of HESTA members women, the Fund has called for the explanatory materials to the legislation in relation to ‘equity’ to clearly reference the elimination of the gender super gap and the need to avoid entrenching or creating inequity for women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those on low incomes.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said clarifying the objective in this way could help keep future super reform focused on tackling the structural inequities that prevented women from receiving the full benefits of super.


“HESTA strongly supports the need to enshrine in law an objective of super that focuses on achieving dignity and equity in retirement, and this goes hand in hand with closing the gender super gap,” Ms Blakey said.


“Our super system is world class, but its design continues to disadvantage certain groups, including women, many of whom continue to experience an intolerable level of economic insecurity in retirement.  


“Crystallising the legislative objective of super to include eliminating the gender super gap and avoiding further inequity will help ensure future reforms address super’s gender blind spot and make our retirement system fairer for all Australians.”


HESTA’s submission recommends implementing a Gender Superannuation Impact Assessment to evaluate how future reform contributes to eliminating the gender super gap as well as to assess Australia’s progress in this respect. The Fund has also called for ‘dignified retirement’ in the explanatory materials to refer to a retirement that promotes financial security and wellbeing.


The gender super gap remains a significant issue, with factors such as the gender pay gap and career interruptions due to caring responsibilities causing Australian women to still retire on average with around a third less super than men.[1]


HESTA has long advocated for measures to help close the gender super gap, including paying super on the Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay scheme and the introduction of a super “carer credit” for unpaid parental leave. The Fund has also sought reform to the Low Income Super Tax Offset and other tax concessions to improve equity and fairness in the super system.


“As a priority, we want to see super paid to workers taking paid leave to care for children because this will help make our retirement system fairer for all Australians and take an important step forward in addressing the gender super gap,” Ms Blakey said.


“Unpaid caring work make an enormous difference to our economy and to the health and wellbeing of families. It’s time our super system recognised this important contribution.”


HESTA recommendations on legislating an objective of super


HESTA recommends that:


1.    The explanatory materials to the legislation should provide further definitional context to the concept of a “dignified retirement”, being one which promotes “financial security and wellbeing in retirement” through a standard of living that:

  • is supported by retirement income sufficiently above the Age Pension (or other government support);
  • supports a person’s ability to economically and socially participate in the community; and
  • is consistent with community expectations.


2.    The explanatory materials to the legislation in relation to “equity” should clarify the importance of promoting workforce and community participation and ensuring superannuation system settings do not entrench or create inequitable outcomes, including for women, low-income earners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


3.    The explanatory materials to the legislation in relation to “equity” should expressly include the objective to eliminate the gender superannuation gap, so that women fully benefit from our superannuation system.


4.    Robust additional accountability mechanisms are enacted, to ensure future superannuation policy changes are properly judged against their compliance with the objective, and there is periodic review of the performance of the system against the objective of superannuation. This should include a “Gender Superannuation Impact Assessment” being conducted, both when new policies are proposed and periodically, to measure progress towards eliminating the gender superannuation gap.


[1] KPMG (2021). The Gender Superannuation Gap – addressing the options.




Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


Back to Media Centre