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Superannuation & retirement

Stand up for Super

All Australians deserve a decent retirementStand up For Super

Australia’s universal superannuation system is the difference between poverty and a decent retirement for most Australians. Superannuation and the decisions that are made today will have a far-reaching impact on what retirement looks like for all hard-working Australians:

  • It is the difference between using the heater during winter and having to shiver under a blanket.
  • It is the difference between a healthy balanced diet or instant noodles for dinner.
  • It is often the difference between being able to afford vital medications or not.

Australian families are worried about their future.

Just one in five Australians with superannuation said they expected to be able to live comfortably off their super in retirement. Many Australian women are retiring in poverty; older women are the fastest-growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness in Australia today.

What we want:

We want our elected representatives to stand up for super, to stand up and ensure every working Australian has a decent retirement. This means:

  1. Protecting our universal superannuation system and rejecting any attempts to make super optional for Australian workers
  2. Legislating to ensure superannuation is paid on every dollar earned by eliminating the $450 minimum threshold for compulsory employer contributions
  3. Keeping to the promised Superannuation Contribution Guarantee rate increase to 12%
  4. Closing the retirement gender super gap by paying a superannuation contribution at the prevailing SGC rate for the government’s paid parental leave scheme and on all government carer & family payments

 Super Canberra Feb2020
Image: Stand Up For Super rally - Canberra Feb 2020


In October 2015 the ASU began a major project investigating women, super and retirement in great detail. Initially it was to write a submission for a Senate Inquiry into women's financial security in retirement, but as we delved further it became apparent that this area is in great need to work.

In July 2017, we partnered with progressive think tank Per Capita to release a comprehensive report and recommendations based on the investigations we did. Read about it and download the report here: Per Capita report reveals retirement is not so super for women

170720 not so super for women1200pxw

Women and low paid workers, many despite a lifetime of work, are retiring with minimal super and facing an uncertain future.

On average, women are retiring with almost half the super of men[1].

Why are women retiring with less?

  • 67.9% of part-time workers are women
  • Women working full-time earn 14% less than men
  • Women take on average five years out of the workforce to care for children or family members – during which time they are not earning super
  • An estimated 220,000 women miss out on $125 million of superannuation contributions as they do not meet the requirement to earn $450 per month (before tax) from one employer (as many women work more than one part-time job) [2]

super motherhood gap
Figure: Median superannuation balances - parents and non-parents by age bracket. (Per Capita, 2017)

We need to take action to stamp out the retirement gender pay gap in retirement savings. This can be done by:

  • Eliminating the $450 minimum threshold to enable over 1 million Australians to start saving for their retirement, over half of those women;
  • Paying a superannuation contribution at the prevailing SGC rate for the government’s paid parental leave scheme and on any carer or family payments.
  • Keeping to the legislated increase to the superannuation contribution guarantee to 12%.

 Our universal superannuation system must work for all Australians to ensure everyone has a decent retirement and no woman retires in poverty.

[1] ASFA Superannuation account balances by age and gender report, October 2017.

[2] Who’s missing out on super? Wage threshold creates an underclass of biggest losers.

Since the super freeze in 2014, workers have lost an average of $4000 in super. Over that same period, that worker’s annual salary has also gone down by over $1000 when adjusted for inflation. So not only are Australians losing income now, they’re losing it in retirement as well.

If the super guarantee freeze continues at its current rate of 9.5%:

  • This equates to an average loss of $1,630 per person
  • A 30-year-old woman earning $85,000 a year, who takes time out of the workforce to have children, could lose up to $93,000 from her super nest egg by the time she retires
  • A young family, by the time they reach retirement, could lose up to $240,000 in retirement savings.³

The superannuation guarantee must be increased to 12% on the promised and legislated timeline to ensure all Australians can rebuild their super accounts and retire with dignity.

Period General super guarantee (%)
1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021 9.50
1 July 2021 - 30 June 2022 10.00
1 July 2022 - 30 June 2023 10.50
1 July 2023 - 30 June 2024 11.00
1 July 2024 - 30 June 2025 11.50
1 July 2025 - 30 June 2026 12.00
1 July 2026 - 30 June 2027 12.00
1 July 2027 - 30 June 2028 and onwards 12.00

Source: Australian Taxation Office, ‘Super guarantee percentage

Find out how much super you've already lost since the 2014 freeze: Calculator:

Use this calculator to see what difference a 12% super rate will have on your retirement: Calculator (ISA):

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on both income and superannuation. As of August 2020, 2.7million had utilised the early release scheme to access their super with as many as 600,000 Australians completely draining their super accounts in order to get by. It is predicted that $41.9 billion will be taken out of super by the end of 2020.

What does this mean for the future?

Lower superannuation balances means a higher reliance on the age pension at retirement. For the pension to be the main source of income for retired Australians, the pension rate will need to be increased by 50%, which will become quite costly. In fact, by 2058 it will cost tax payers $98.6 billion to help fund the pension.[1]

The only way Australians can begin to make up for lost super during this time, is by increasing the super guarantee to 12% as previously promised.

[1] Freezing super guarantee will cost federal government billions in future

If you are planning for your financial future or retirement, we can recommend the ACTU's directory of endorsed financial advisors.

For a copy phone 1300 362 223 or visit the ACTU Member Connect super website

Member Connect has links to a range of superannuation and other financial services websites and advice.

ASU members are members of a wide range of superannuation funds, depending on where they work. Some of the most popular funds are:

A number of these funds have links to super calculators and other key super resources available to their members.

We encourage you to use both SuperSeeker and AUSfund tools to look for any missing earnings you might have.

SuperSeeker is a tool provided by the Australian Taxation Office that will look for your lost super in real time and instantly provide you with possible matches. It is free to use and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To use SuperSeeker you will need to supply your tax file number.

AUSfund is another valuable tool for locating lost super.

The information contained on this website should not be relied upon for financial or commercial advice. The ASU is not a licensed financial advisor nor are the officials of the Union who prepared this website.

The purpose of the superannuation campaign webpages is to encourage Branches, ASU representatives and members to realise that they need to bargain and campaign for increased superannuation to at least the levels advised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Branches, union officials and members are always advised to seek independent financial advice from a licensed provider based on their individual circumstances before making any major financial planning decisions, including those related to superannuation and retirement planning.