Industry superannuation funds may have won a victory with the Government dropping its proposals to allow women impacted by domestic violence to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation, but the funds want at least part of the Government’s legislative package to be maintained.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) said it wanted to the data-sharing elements of the legislation retained and pursued by the Government.
“We are now seeking assurance that a much-needed super data sharing scheme that will assist women has not been abandoned or put back on the back burner,” the AIST said, noting that the Government had announced that both superannuation measures would be introduced on the same piece of draft legislation.
The data sharing scheme was announced more than two years ago by the Government in its 2018 Women’s Economic Statement but remains unimplemented and followed a Women’s Legal Service Victoria report which identified that the lack of visibility of super assets during family law proceedings was exacerbating the financial hardship experienced by many women.
AIST said the data sharing scheme would make superannuation assets more visible when they were going through the family law courts by allowing the sharing of superannuation data between the courts and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
AIST chief executive, Eva Scheerlinck said the superannuation industry and women’s advocates had been calling on the Government to urgently implement the data-sharing scheme to improve the financial wellbeing of victims of financial abuse as superannuation was often their biggest – or only – asset in these relationships.
“Family violence victims and financially disadvantaged women have struggled for far too long to gain access to their partner’s super balance details during separation or divorce proceedings,” she said. “We urge the Government to push ahead and prioritise the data sharing scheme now it has made the decision to abandon the other measure.”
“Allowing the courts to access ATO data is a simple measure that will make the process far more efficient, fair and cost-effective both for the individuals concerned and the super industry and will help close the gender super gap for the most vulnerable women,” Scheerlinck said.