The release of the ANZ Women’s Report again highlights the urgent need for a full and independent Retirement Incomes Review which would include addressing the growing numbers of older women living in poverty and at risk of homelessness, the peak body for older Australians, COTA Australia, said today.
COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said figures in the report showing that 90 per cent of women do not have enough money to retire on are alarming.
The report also found that 37 per cent of Australian women have no personal income at the age of retirement, and of those, one in five women yet to retire have no superannuation at all. Women on average have about half as much superannuation as men.”As the ANZ report shows, women are paid less than men in general, they are more likely to have broken careers to care for children and parents, they are more likely to work part time, and they therefore accumulate less superannuation,” Mr Yates said.
“One result of this is that older women are the fastest growing group of homeless people in the country.
“With Generation X about to turn 50 this year, this should be a wake up call to government and policy makers to look seriously at how we close the gender gap and review our retirement income policies to make sure a generation of Australian women have the safety net and incomes they need to survive for the duration of their lives,” he said.
Mr Yates said COTA has been calling for over a year for a comprehensive independent Retirement Incomes Review to look at all aspects of retirement income, including superannuation, pensions, mature employment, housing, taxation and meeting health and care needs in later years.
Business groups, unions, seniors representatives, including COTA and the community sector will come together next month for a National Reform Summit, in frustration at the lack of political will from government and opposition to face the big policy decisions required around tax, retirement incomes and budget sustainability.
“Retirees need security and certainty, not policy on the run for short term political gain,” he said.
“ANZ have shown today that with creative thinking there are solutions – such as topping up contributions for women with less than $50,000 in superannuation.
“We could also look at measures such as allowing superannuation to be salary sacrificed at higher amounts in later earning years to make up for years of lost or reduced superannuation; or compensating carers who have given up years of work to look after loved ones by attaching superannuation payments to income support payments.
“Most importantly, we need to look at all the issues in a way that is coordinated and delivers a retirement system that all Australians can rely on as they age.”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280.
COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.