Victims of domestic violence might become eligible to apply for the early release of their superannuation under proposals being canvassed by the Federal Government and contained within a Treasury discussion paper released this week.
The discussion paper, Early release of superannuation benefits, has been made public by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer and has for the first time formally raised the issue of early release with respect to domestic violence.
In doing so, it acknowledged domestic violence as being “potential new ground for early release” which it said had been raised by several stakeholders citing instances “where an individual is experiencing a situation of family violence or financial abuse by a domestic partner”.
It said that while early access to superannuation benefits might reduce financial security in retirement and exacerbate the savings gap between men and women, the Government recognised the difficulties facing victims of domestic violence and wanted to provide support through timely and targeted assistance, including through the welfare system.
“There is a trade-off between the principles of ‘genuine hardship’ whereby superannuation may help meet short-term financial needs, and ‘preservation’ of income for retirement,” the discussion paper said. “It is an open question whether early release for victims of domestic violence should be considered as a ‘last resort’ where other forms of assistance have been inadequate.”
“Further, in considering this issue, it is worth noting that the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) did not consider it appropriate to include family violence as a purpose for which an individual may apply for early access on compassionate grounds, or to create a new ground of early release on the basis of family violence,” it said.
The discussion paper also canvasses the issue of making superannuation available with respect to compensating victims of crime.