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COVID-19 has seen tens of thousands of Australians, many of them members of profit-to-member super funds, lose their jobs, working reduced hours and facing financial hardship.
Super funds have an essential role to play in helping to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 on fund members and to rebuild our economy as the nation recovers.
AIST is actively supporting our member funds and the wider super industry in these challenging times.
For several months now, a core focus of AIST and our member funds has been to support those Australians who have applied to access the Government’s temporary early release of super scheme. AIST member funds have worked hard to ensure that payments are made to their members well within APRA’s expected timeline of 5 business days. So far, more than 2 million Australians have received early release payments, worth more than $15 billion – with members of profit-to-member funds accounting for well over half this total.
Since mid-April when the scheme began, AIST has been engaging with the Government, ATO, APRA, AUSTRAC, ASIC and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the Scheme operates as smoothly as possible. This includes working with the regulators to ensure any fraud related to the scheme is dealt with quickly and minimised.
In these uncertain times, the need for considered and balanced media reporting on superannuation is vital. AIST has stepped up our proactive engagement with the media to ensure that messaging about the early release measures, as well as other matters concerning superannuation, is factual and appropriate.
Like many businesses right now, AIST has pivoted and significantly changed our delivery model, notably in relation to our traditional offering of face-to-face events and education.
Following the cancellation of CMSF in Adelaide in mid-March, AIST has now delivered CMSF2020 virtually, with 35 sessions available for members to view on demand online. We are also expanding our suite of online training sessions, which are proving more popular than ever in these times of social distancing, with many staff working from home.
The accelerated digitization has been both challenging and exciting. We have developed new skills and expertise, taken a few risks and opened up a new way to communicate, connect and educate.
We are conscious that members have appreciated the flexibility that online delivery offers – less travel and greater choice about when you want to access our professional development programs, leading to increased productivity in your own organisations as you embrace a new way to connect with peers and educate your teams.
Our online roundtables for various cohorts of AIST members have also been extremely well attended. These informal forums, which we will continue to co-ordinate throughout this crisis, allow fund staff to share information and connect with other people in similar roles across the profit-to-member collective.
AIST has welcomed the establishment of a national cabinet and a national Covid-19 Coordination Commission to manage the implications of the crisis and put plans in place for our Covid-safe future. We are working with our member funds to help identify potential areas where super funds can invest to create more jobs and fast-track our nation’s economic recovery. This has involved facilitating industry roundtables to identify new investment opportunities in the key areas of energy, infrastructure and affordable housing.
In addition to the immediate health crisis we all face, the broader economic and social impacts of COVID 19 are likely to be with us all for some time.
Throughout this crisis, AIST remains committed to helping our member funds and ensuring that the profit-to-member super sector is well placed to deliver the best possible outcomes for individual members and the wider economy, both now and into the future.