Indigenous super group to lobby government on recognition of kinship structures

Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees

The Indigenous Superannuation Working Group (ISWG) will lobby the new Federal Government to ensure it reprioritises the recognition of kinship structures in Indigenous communities for the purposes of superannuation beneficiary benefits priority.

Chair Eva Scheerlinck said the continuing challenge of these structures was the current focus of the ISWG, which was established in 2013 to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by improving access and engagement with superannuation.

“These relationships, which are critically important to the cultural identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are not recognised in superannuation law, impacting who members can nominate to receive their super after they die, or to whom a trustee can distribute a member’s super after their death,” Ms Scheerlinck said in a speech which coincided with National Sorry Day on Thursday.

“In 2019 Treasury held a consultation on this issue, which was also identified by Commissioner Hayne during the Royal Commission. There have been no developments here and we will lobby the new government to reprioritise this piece of work,” she told the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s Indigenous Outreach Program roundtable.

Ms Scheerlinck, who is also CEO of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST), said the ISWG would also continue to support the Financial Counselling Australia’s call for tax reform that would allow the Australian Taxation Office to disclose the name of a super fund which holds an account for a member upon dying.

“Current settings impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members disproportionately, as the settings prevent the ATO from providing this information to anyone else other than the legal personal representative, creating a problem when the deceased person does not have one,” she said.

“The theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week is “Be Brave, Make Change” – I challenge you all to live up to that call to action.”

The group, which meets at least quarterly, consists of industry, government and non-government organisations that include representatives of the Indigenous community, the superannuation industry, life insurers and other relevant stakeholders.

“As the peak body for profit-to-member superannuation funds, AIST is committed to improving the retirement outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Scheerlinck said.

“The ISWG however is broader than that – it sits across industry and all super funds are welcome to participate. And in fact this is a very exciting time for us to be thinking about shifting the outcomes for our first nations people, as since Saturday’s Federal election, there are more Indigenous people represented in our parliament than ever before.”

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