ARA strengthens focus on superannuation in strategic partnership with Rest

Tuesday 28 September 2021

The peak industry body for retail, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is strengthening its advocacy for greater equity in Australia’s superannuation system and has highlighted the imbalance in women’s super as part of a new strategic partnership with leading superannuation fund Rest.

Rest is responsible for the retirement savings of more than one million women, who make up the majority of its membership. However, they are retiring with significantly less than their male counterparts. Rest’s female members aged 50 years and over have on average $33,000 less in their accounts compared to male members, which represents a gender gap of 28% as they near retirement.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said as part of the exclusive strategic partnership, the ARA and Rest will collaborate on relevant industry issues and share insights to better inform and grow their collective memberships.

“Australia’s superannuation system is a treasured income stream for millions of people in retirement, but the unfortunate reality is there’s a persistent imbalance between men and women and the nest eggs they have saved up over their working lives,” Mr Zahra said.

“The gender super balance gap begins to open up when women reach their 30s, when they tend to take career breaks to have and care for children, and they often return to work earning less than what they did beforehand.

“The most effective way to close the super balance gap is to remove the barriers for women who want to get back to work, invest in their skills after time out of the jobs market and provide better access to childcare.

“Female underemployment in retail is linked to childcare, with inflexible working conditions and skills also major barriers to participation. The ARA continues to work closely with industry and advocate to government for improvements in these areas and our efforts will only strengthen as part our new strategic partnership with Rest.”

Rest CEO Vicki Doyle said one of the fund’s key priorities was advocating for a superannuation system that works more fairly for all Australians.

“While there has been progress made in 2021, there is so much more that needs to be done to improve the retirement outcomes and financial security of women and lower-income Australians – the people Rest represents,” Ms Doyle said.

“On behalf of Rest members, we have aligned our organisation to five of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly ‘Reduced inequalities’, ‘Gender equality’, and ‘Decent work and economic growth’.

“This partnership is an opportunity to share Rest and the ARA’s combined expertise of the acute challenges facing vulnerable people, and advocate for solutions to address these challenges, promote greater equity and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Including superannuation contributions as part of the Australian Government’s Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay schemes is one solution to address inequity. We have long advocated for this measure and will continue to do so.

“We look forward to collaborating with the ARA on further solutions that will lead to better outcomes for our members.

“This will also strengthen a channel to connect with our members and employers more effectively on key issues and encourage greater engagement with superannuation.”

Rest joins the ARA’s growing network of strategic partners which includes American Express, Hitch Advisory, Deloitte, Mastercard, TBWA/Fabric, Salesforce, Afterpay and QUT.

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