One woman dies at the hands of a partner or former partner in Australia every week.* And money is often used as a method of control.
“Finances are too often a barrier for people trying to leave a violent relationship and, unfortunately, financial support for survivors of family violence is grossly inadequate,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey explains. So HESTA has approached the Federal Government to change current super rules to give victims and survivors early access to up to $10,000 of their super as a last resort.
“It’s entirely appropriate super regulations extend compassion to survivors of family violence to empower people with the financial means to escape abusive relationships,” Debby says. "The prevalence of family violence means that thousands of our members may be directly impacted.”
Why is it that today, women still retire with on average half the super balance of men?^ If you’ve had time out of the workforce to care for a loved one, are on a lower wage than your male counterparts, or earn less than $450 per month, the mystery’s solved — but the injustice isn’t.
In 2016 HESTA told a Senate inquiry into financial security in retirement how we can make super fairer for women. This includes scrapping the rule that means employers don’t have to pay super if you earn less than $450 per month.
“Women working in health and community services can often have more than one part-time role,” Debby says. “Their salary from each employer can fall under the $450 per month super threshold, totally excluding them from super.”
Any organisation choosing leaders from only 50 per cent of the population won’t find the best of the best, and eventually its performance will suffer. HESTA is calling for better diversity on boards by writing to Australia’s top 200 listed companies, including those in which your super’s invested.
“We need to increase the number of female senior executives to improve decision making and support a healthy pipeline of women qualified to join boards in coming years,” Debby says.
“Diversity is an indicator of well-run companies that deliver long-term value to shareholders. Women in senior leadership can also promote greater career opportunities for other women which, over the long term, can also increase their retirement savings.”
*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019
^ Make Super Fair, Women in Super, 2020