Australia’s peak organisation for older Australians today welcomed tri-partisan support for a Senate Inquiry into the financial security of older women – in the absence of a more comprehensive, independent Retirement Incomes Review.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said he was pleased all three major parties had recognized the need for an inquiry into boosting retirement incomes for women.
“On average women currently retire with half the superannuation of men, and earn $700,000 less in their lifetime – a situation that is leaving many older women at risk of homeless and poverty, particularly if they are living on their own,” Mr Yates said.
“We need to find ways of boosting women’s superannuation during their working years to compensate for periods out of the workforce as carers or in part time and casual roles. We also need to look at the gender pay gap.”
Mr Yates said an inquiry into issues during a woman’s working years that impact on the financial security in later life should really be part of a full structural review of retirement incomes for all Australians.
The issue of broken working lives and how to address this form part of the the retirement incomes component of the Tax White Paper process that was agreed between the government, Greens and COTA during the pension assets test changes now being legislated.
He 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.
“In its absence, a Senate Inquiry into financial inequities faced by women can make a useful contribution, but it can’t stop there,” he said.
“Financial security for older women is also related to issues such as home ownership, access to healthcare, and age discrimination in the workforce
“The Committee’s findings need to feed into an independent Retirement Incomes Review that looks at the entire retirement incomes framework to ensure older Australians are protected by a retirement system that is fair and sustainable.”
Business groups, unions and seniors representatives, including COTA and the community sector will come together next Wednesday for a National Reform Summit to discuss policy decisions required around economic productivity, taxation, retirement incomes and budget sustainability.
“It’s fantastic that these issues are on the agenda. We now need to see some real political will to make the big policy decisions that will deliver long term security for all Australians as they get older.”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.
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.