The chief executive of Catholic Super and Equipsuper has shared new data revealing a sharp increase in enquiries on life insurance and updates to death nominations for essential workers.
Scott Cameron said the five offerings over which he serves as trustee - Catholic Super, Equipsuper, My Life My Super, Transport Super and My Life My Pension - have received a significant increase of inquiries from frontline workers and their employers in the case of unemployment or death following the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Some funds received up to a 136% increase in members making contact about their arrangements if they pass away or become ill compared to the same time last year," Cameron said.
"Catholic Super has seen more than double the enquiries in life insurance in March compared to 2019, and Equipsuper has received unprecedented requests for paperwork to update death nominations from employers representing hundreds of employees."
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Cameron said many super funds represent frontline workers, and the concerning data suggests they are genuinely concerned about their lives and the heal of their families.
Recent data from TKW on the heightened stress amongst healthcare frontline workers suggested more than three quarters of Australian healthcare professionals are worried about contracting the virus or passing it on to others.
Psychologist Rebecca Thomas highlighted the significant physical and mental health risks that come from distancing oneself from family and friends.
"Studies that have shown social isolation has real, negative effects on wellbeing," Thomas said.
"A lack of social connection has been associated with heightening health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day."
Cameron said the data was released to coincide with the launch of a new IOUaHug campaign, urging Australians to go out to the nation's three million essential workers with a virtual hug.
"Our super funds felt it was important to let our members and pensioners know that we are recognising their concerns, and we want to say thank you for all that frontline workers have done over the past months," Cameron said.
The data comes after the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics heard the COVID-19 pandemic has driven Australians to ask their life insurers about whether their policies cover them for suicide.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Read our full COVID-19 news coverage and analysis here.