Push to include women’s outcomes in Review of Retirement Income System

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A group of high-powered women and men are pushing to ensure that women are not left out of the Review of the Retirement Income System.

Coordinated by Women in Super, a long list of prominent people – including CEOs of superannuation funds and academics – have signed an open letter to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, calling for women to be specifically included in the Terms of Reference for the recently announced review.

The letter asks the Treasurer to add to the Terms of Reference to “explicitly focus on the significant and worsening issue of the economic insecurity of women in retirement”.

The letter says the “systemic, structural, economic, social and demographic drivers of the gender retirement gap have been well documented”, with women retiring on just over half the retirement savings of men, and one in four women retiring with no superannuation. This is contributing to more women experiencing poverty in retirement, and the fastest growing cohort of the homeless being single retired women.

Expanding the Review of the Retirement Income System – which will not make recommendations, but instead provide an evidence base – “will ensure that there is specific gender analysis of current and alternate policy settings and will ensure that resulting policy making will improve retirement outcomes for women,” says the letter.

“Improving retirement outcomes for women should be a specific objective of the review.”

Women in Super Chair Cate Wood said it was “vital” the review take a thorough look at how policy and other drivers are “leaving increasing numbers of women without economic security in retirement”.

“There is a crisis in women’s retirement happening all around us.”

Wood said the terms of the review were broad, but having an explicit focus on the retirement outcomes of women would ensure the opportunity to address the gender retirement gap wasn’t missed.

A Senate Committee released a report in 2016 with a number of recommendations of how to improve the retirement income security of women in retirement. It took the Government more than two years to respond to the report, and then only ‘noted’ – not adopted – many of the recommendations, and rejected some outright.

Labor joins call for women to be included in Terms of Reference

Labor has joined the call for the retirement of women to be specifically included in the Review, with Labor Shadow Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones, writing to the Treasurer asking for changes to the Terms of Reference.

Jones said the “Australian Governments gender problem is reinforcing a gender Superannuation problem”.

“Gender gaps in superannuation are a clear problem. This omission is a serious oversight and I call on the Government to rectify it immediately” 

A joint statement with Julie Collins, Shadow Minister for Women, said the “significant oversight shows that the Government has no plan to address growing inequality and economic insecurity for women in retirement”.

“Women cannot afford to be overlooked; the Review must explicitly consider how women interact with Australia’s retirement income system.”

“It is clear the current superannuation guarantee rate is inadequate and making it more difficult for women to accumulate the savings required for a comfortable retirement,” said Collins.

“But it is hardly surprising the Liberal/National Government would fail to consider the experiences of women in the terms of reference when the review into retirement income is being led by a Treasurer who said in Parliament that the gender pay gap had ‘closed’.

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