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The Retirement Income Review Panel’s report shows no intention of closing the gender gap, the ANMF says.

In a joint statement with the Australian Services Union and the SDA, the union for Retail, Fast Food and Warehouse Workers, the unions state the report focuses on homeownership and financial literacy as the fix for retirement outcomes.

Given many of their members earn on average an annual income of around $45,000, homeownership was simply not a reality, the unions said.

According to the unions, evidence had repeatedly shown that the gender super gap is a significant problem.

Some of the evidence suggests:

  • One in three women retire with no super. (Senate Inquiry: A husband is not a retirement plan: Achieving economic security for women in retirement, 2016).
  • Women retire with 47% less super than men (ASU & Per Capita report 2017: ‘Not So Super for Women’).
  • Older women (55+) were the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians between 2011-2016, increasing by no less than 31% (AHRC: Older Women’s Risk of Homelessness Background paper, April 2019).
  • Single older women, aged over 60, living in Australia belong to the lowest income earning family group, earning on average less than $30,000 pa. It is the most likely household type to live in poverty. (2017 HILDA Survey).
  • In 2016-17, there were approximately 1.02 million employees who earned under $5,400 per year of employment income (equivalent to $450 or under per month); more than half of these low-income employees were women (55%) and therefore not eligible for compulsory superannuation contributions due to the $450 monthly minimum earning threshold. (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Jobs in Australia, 2011-12 to 2016-17)

The unions argued that the government’s 2014 SG freeze had already hit women and that the impact of the current freeze had also been profound.

For example, by the time a 52-year-old woman, who is a single parent working full time as a nurse retires, she would have lost an estimated extra $27,000 in her retirement savings, they said.

Any delay on the pathway to 12% by 2025 will disproportionally impact women, who are already at greater risk of retiring in poverty and homelessness.

The unions suggested to prevent women from retiring into poverty the government must:

  • Ensure super is paid on every dollar earned
  • Abolish the $450 minimum earning threshold for compulsory super contributions
  • Increase the Super guarantee to 12%
  • Pay the Super guarantee on both paid and unpaid parental leave
  • Fix the historical undervaluation of women’s work
  • Fix the gender pay gap.