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COVID-19 has seen thousands of Australians, many of them members of profit-to-member super funds, losing their jobs 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.
Right now, a core focus of AIST and our member funds is to support those Australians who have applied to access the newly-announced temporary early release super on compassionate grounds. So far, over 900,000 Australians have registered interest in the early release payments, and funds have received many enquiries to fund call centres, as well as a high level of online enquiries.
AIST has been engaging with the Government, ATO, APRA, ASIC, AUSTRAC, AFCA, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the administration of these measures is a smooth as possible. In particular, we have noted the need for consistency of messaging across the industry and called for the use of standardized language and warnings to avoid any confusion.
As from April 20, when the ATO began processing early release applications, AIST member funds have been working hard to ensure that payments are made to member bank accounts as soon as possible.
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.
On the education front, AIST is now delivering CMSF2020 virtually. 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.
Our online roundtables for various cohorts of members have also been extremely well attended. These informal forums, which we will continue throughout this crisis, allow fund staff to share information and connect with other people in similar roles across the profit-to-member collective.
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 is committed to helping our member funds where we can 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.