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The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, Women in Super, HESTA and Women’s Legal Service Victoria have welcomed the passage through Parliament today of legislation that will help stop family violence perpetrators from hiding superannuation assets in family law proceedings.
The groups say the legislation is an important win for victims of family violence who in the past have missed out on superannuation entitlements after splitting from their partner
The legislation provides for a party to family law property proceedings to apply to the court to request their former partner’s superannuation information from the ATO.
Serina McDuff, CEO of Women’s Legal Service Victoria, said the law was an important step in improving the economic outcomes for family violence victim-survivors, many of whom experience financial abuse, as well as physical abuse.
“This new law means women leaving violent relationships will have a better chance of getting their fair share of superannuation during divorce proceedings and give them some financial security in later life.
“So many women leave violent relationships with no assets and this has an enormous impact on their ability to recover financially, as well as emotionally, from years of abuse.
“We still have a long way to go to make sure vulnerable women are not left high and dry after leaving their partner, but this new law removes one important barrier to a fair asset split.”
AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck congratulated the Government on delivering the legislation, noting that superannuation was often the biggest – or only – asset in a relationship.
“Allowing the courts to access ATO data is a simple measure that will make the process far more efficient, fair and cost-effective both for the individuals concerned and the super industry.”
Women in Super CEO Sandra Buckley said that the legislation was welcomed as it would not only increase the transparency of assets held but would simplify the process of sharing information, leading to better financial outcomes for many women who could not afford the previously costly and often traumatic experience of a lengthy court process.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated the government on achieving this reform, saying it represented progress towards a fairer super system for women.
“More than 80% of HESTA members are women and too often we see women more vulnerable to poverty later in life because they face systemic inequalities like this,” Ms Blakey said.
“That’s why HESTA has strongly advocated for a fairer split of super assets as it will improve financial outcomes for many of our members and working women. While there’s still a long way to go to make our super system work better for women, this is a good step in the right direction.”
Media enquiries: Janet de Silva, AIST Senior Media Manager 0448 000 499 | [email protected]