More work needed to improve Indigenous superannuation outcomes: report

Meeting identification requirements remain a major hurdle to improving Indigenous superannuation outcomes, according to a report from the Indigenous Super Summit 2019.

The reportreleased today brings into stark relief the frustration felt by financial counsellors working with indigenous communities in assisting their clients with superannuation matters. Meeting basic identification requirements of superannuation funds – such as having a driver’s license or passport – remains a key obstacle for Indigenous members needing to access information about their fund and/or process claims. Other challenges include:

  • Structural hurdles among funds that do not allow Indigenous people to nominate people who are outside their immediate family but within their kinship structure.
  • Lost superannuation
  • Access to financial services in rural and remote areas
  • Lack of internet access

Delivering the report to key Parliamentarians in Canberra today, the Chair of the Indigenous Superannuation Working Group, Eva Scheerlinck said the industry and the regulators were working towards standardized identification requirements and binding death nomination forms, but more needed to be done to improve outcomes and achieve consistency across the industry.

“While super fund representatives are working with regulators on an industry approach to some of the bureaucratic issues, there is also a need for greater collaboration between funds and services providers, such as financial counsellors,” said Ms Scheerlinck, who is also CEO of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST), the peak body for profit-to-member super funds.

Today’s release of the Summit report follows the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which also highlighted how cultural and structural issues were hampering the ability of Indigenous people to engage with superannuation funds.

The Royal Commission heard that indigenous Australians have 23 per cent less in retirement savings than non-indigenous Australians and that many members in remote communities were unaware of their superannuation entitlements.

Established in 2013, the Indigenous Superannuation Working Group is a cross-industry initiative that includes super industry bodies, superannuation funds and representation from the First Nations Foundation. The third Indigenous Super Summit was held in Brisbane in August 2019.

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