New terms for early super access receives mixed reaction

Victims of domestic violence will be able to access their superannuation thanks to new measures introduced by the Federal Government. Overall the package has been met with mixed reactions.

Victims of domestic and family violence will be able to withdraw up to $10,000 of their superannuation over a 24 month period to meet unexpected costs. Currently, victims of domestic violence cannot access their super before reaching preservation age.

Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said the move, which is part of the Women's Economic Security Package, aims to improve the economic wellbeing and recovery of women when faced with critical life events, such as domestic violence.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Moo Baulch said while the new measure overall is a positive move, it has received "mixed" reactions.

On one hand, accessing super early to help women flee to economic safety is a positive initiative that will help many enormously, she told Financial Standard.

On the flip side, others are questioning why a "chunk" of their superannuation should be affected given there is already a large gap between the balances of men and women, she said.

Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer announced the changes yesterday in an effort to narrow the gender pay gap, particularly in super where there's a 42% difference in balances between men and women.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia welcomed the move to extend the early release of superannuation to circumstances of domestic and family violence, as well as improving the visibility of superannuation assets in family law proceedings.

"We support the development of tools that assist parties to create super splitting orders, including a tool to look up the legal name and contact details of super funds," ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy said.

As part of the package, Robert said the Australian Bureau of Statistics will reinstate its Time Use Survey to help gauge the economic value of unpaid work to be conducted in 2020-21.

"This survey will have a positive impact on women's economic security by fully valuing the contribution that women make to the economy, providing evidence of the distribution of paid and unpaid work between women and men, and helping inform policies to support the greater availability of flexible work arrangements," he said.

Read more: SuperannuationASFAAssistant TreasurerFinancial StandardKelly O'DwyerMartin FahyMoo BaulchStuart Robert
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