Bid for domestic violence victims to access superannuation

Superannuation could be made available to victims of domestic violence but Wagga advocates say it would further disadvantage women. 

Right idea: Wagga Women's Health Centre co-founder Jan Roberts says if victims of domestic violence are granted access to their super it could provide them with further disadvantage.

Right idea: Wagga Women's Health Centre co-founder Jan Roberts says if victims of domestic violence are granted access to their super it could provide them with further disadvantage.

With one woman killed each week at the hand of a partner or spouse, Hesta chief executive Debby Blakey said finances were “too often a barrier” for victims who needed to escape. 

The industry superannuation fund on Monday said it would call for the federal government to change the rules around access to super in light of this.

Ms Blakey said urgent action was needed to combat the alarming statistics across the country and Hesta urged other industry bodies to follow.  

“While early access to super is currently possible … under compassionate grounds, this is denied in instances of family violence,” Ms Blakey said. 

“We think it’s entirely appropriate that super regulations extend compassion to victims and survivors of family violence.”

As a last resort, the company proposed those wishing to leave an abusive and dangerous relationship be granted up to $10,000 of their super too. 

Wagga Women’s Health Centre co-founder Jan Roberts agreed more funds were needed but she said superannuation was not the answer. 

“Women are already behind the eight-ball with super in terms of their retirement,” Ms Roberts said. 

“I believe if a woman is in a situation where she is facing violence and needs to relocate, there should be another fund that provides that assistance.”

Ms Roberts said many women didn’t have a sufficient income to support them in their retirement at present. 

“It’s going to place women at a double disadvantage,” she said. 

“When that money’s gone, it wont be there for her retirement.”

Ms Roberts said if something like this were to be approved, it would be a “cop out”. 

“What about women who don’t work or have never worked?” she said. 

“I think there needs to be a no-interest loan or some other way women can be given financial assistance to leave.”

Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the idea had been pitched before and was something treasury would consider. 

He said superannuation was ultimately the “people’s money” but it was preserved for retirement. 

Mr McCormack said he deplored domestic violence but at the end of the day, victims especially needed to have money in their superannuation when they retired. 

He said: “When you open super to support one group, where do you start and where do you stop”.

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