Financial literacy charity First Nations Foundation has called for the superannuation sector to step up to cater to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, as it has launched an online information hub targeted towards Indigenous people.
The new website, IndigenousSuper.com.au, has been rolled out with information for Indigenous people, including a “five-step plan” to take control of retirement savings.
The platform has been backed by a number super funds and financial services providers, including AustralianSuper, Cbus, MLC Wealth, Suncorp, TelstraSuper and UniSuper.
First Nations Foundation chief executive Phil Usher said as an Indigenous-led charity, his group is able to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “in a way that other institutions cannot”.
“First Nations Foundation aims to achieve financial prosperity for Indigenous Australians, and it is well known that Indigenous Australians have lower super balances than the rest of the population, so helping people harness the power of their superannuation is of critical importance,” Mr Usher said.
“By clearly understanding what the benefits of interacting with super early are, and what protections are included with superannuation, we will be able to help our mob make the most of the superannuation they already have.”
First Nations Foundation has operated its Big Super Day Out outreach initiative for the last six years, having reconnected Indigenous people with more than $24 million in super.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign has been postponed – but Mr Usher commented the foundation is working on a number of specialist resources that will keep up the group’s momentum with financial literacy education.
The super platform is said to be the first of a few resources the charity will launch in its work towards economic parity.
“The need for this education is even more relevant as we face a potential recession,” Mr Usher said.
“The opportunity if we get this right is enormous. Superannuation can act as a vehicle that creates intergenerational wealth for Aboriginal people. But to have an impact on this scale we can’t do it alone.
“We need super funds and industry bodies to be [onboard]. We can deliver the information in a culturally appropriate way that has a connection with the audience, but super funds are the product providers who can utilise our cultural expertise to provide an enhanced experience for their Indigenous members.”
First Nations Foundation has signalled it intends to develop the resource over time as the super industry evolves.
Shailendra Singh, executive general manager, wealth at Suncorp commented COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of financial inclusion and resilience.
Meanwhile UniSuper CEO Kevin O’Sullivan added: “We acknowledge that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members face unique challenges in engaging with their super fund, and the super system more broadly, so any work being done which aims to close that retirement gap has our full support.”
A recent report from UniSuper and BankWest Curtin Economics Centre stated that both the government and the superannuation sector need to take action to address the retirement gap for Indigenous people.
The average Indigenous man was found to accumulate a superannuation balance of $308,000 by the age of 65, 37 per cent less compared to $483,000 for non-Indigenous men.
The gap between Indigenous women and their non-Indigenous counterparts was 35 per cent, with Indigenous women being likely to have accumulated $205,000 by 65.
On a policy level, the report called for earlier access to super for Indigenous people alongside slashed tax penalties.
Further recommendations included requiring funds to report on outcomes for Indigenous members through ASFA and the formation of an independent cross-industry support unit, staffed by Indigenous people.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].