Unique retirement challenges for women

Unique retirement challenges for women

Alex Burke

The upcoming review of Australia’s retirement income system, announced last month, should carve out a specific focus on women’s retirement issues.

This is the argument being made by advocacy group Women in Super, who are petitioning the Government to update the review’s terms of reference “to be updated to specifically include women.”

Explaining why, Women in Super chair Cate Wood said there is a “crisis in women’s retirement savings happening all around us,” adding that “single retired women are the fastest-growing group of people becoming homeless in this country.”

“The rate of poverty for retired women also continues to increase,” Wood continued, “which is unsurprising given women retire on average with just over half the superannuation savings of men.”

Women in Super’s statement accompanies an open letter to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, signed by over 100 organisations.

Currently, the review is aimed at determining how effective the “three pillars” of Australia’s retirement system – those being the Age Pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings – are at “[achieving] adequate retirement incomes, [remaining] fiscally sustainable and [providing] appropriate incentives for self-provision in retirement.”

Women in Super’s contention – that these issues affect women in specific ways – is supported by analysis commissioned by the same group earlier this year, which found that the average projected income for women in retirement across all ages is around $30,000.

At the time, Wood said “today’s average 30-year-old receiving a 9.5% superannuation guarantee across her whole working life would experience a less than comfortable or dignified retirement.”

She added that a “targeted government contribution early on will disproportionately benefit women and takes advantage of compounding interest – it’s an efficient approach to finally taking action on the gender super gap.”

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