National Seniors Australia says Labor’s new policy to bridge the gender gap in superannuation will help improve retirement incomes for women, who were most at risk of poverty and homelessness.
The organisation’s Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said today women retired on average with $113,000 less than men in their super accounts, mainly due to lower wages, the time they spent out of the workforce raising children and caring for ageing parents, and divorce.
Women were particularly vulnerable to homelessness as they aged because of their precarious financial situations. By the time they are 60, 34 per cent of single women in Australia live in poverty.
According to the HILDA survey, these women belong to the lowest income earning group, surviving on less than $30,000 a year.
Mr Henschke said Labor’s policy, announced today, would introduce Superannuation Guarantee (SG) payments on the 18 weeks of Government Paid Parental Leave and phase out the $450 monthly pay threshold for eligibility for super payments. This was something National Seniors had called for in the past.
Super contributions would also be paid on Dad and Partner Pay.
“This policy is a key step in ensuring women have the income they need to live comfortably in retirement,” Mr Henschke said.
“It won’t solve what is a complex problem overnight, but it will begin to correct a situation that makes older women particularly vulnerable at a time of their life when they deserve better.
“For a variety of reasons, including divorce and inequity in pay, many older women end up living week to week, totally reliant on their jobs to pay the rent.
“It only takes a bout of sickness when they can’t work and they can end up homeless, living in their car or worse. It’s a growing issue and one that needs to be addressed.
“Moves like this will also help alleviate the poverty faced by people reliant on the aged pension, which we’re trying to address through our Fix Pension Poverty campaign with the Benevolent Society of Australia.”
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke is available for comment.
Media contact: Lynda Schekoske (07) 3233 9106 or 0488 047 380.