As the latest Closing the Gap Report has highlighted, First Nations people face multiple barriers in their lives, including more health and socio-economic disadvantages than non-Indigenous Australians, and a lower life expectancy. In order for meaningful reconciliation to be achieved, genuine approaches are needed to improve Indigenous peoples’ futures, and this includes making adjustments to institutions such as the superannuation system. Carissa Lee Godwin, Editor, Analysis & Policy Observatory’s (APO’s) First Peoples & Public Policy Collection, investigates the ways in which the superannuation system can be more accommodating to the needs of First Nations people.
Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and UniSuper produced the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the superannuation system report. The report states that although the numerous disadvantages of First Nations Australians have been extensively investigated, there has been little exploration of First Nations peoples’ experiences in retirement and quality of life in old age compared to those of non-Indigenous people. The report compiles an investigation and includes recommendations to make First Nations peoples’ access to superannuation more accessible and to ensure their lives as senior citizens are financially supported.
The report presents the results of qualitative research and quantitative modelling providing insights into the challenges faced by First Nations people in preparing for retirement in an attempt to begin a broader discussion on the pursuit for socio-economic equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Key findings include:
Superannuation access needs to be adjusted to account for the life, health and socio-economic differences between First Nations people and non-Indigenous people. The report’s recommendations are informed by factors such as: difference in preservation age, family responsibilities and income differences.
The report recommends that:
The current superannuation system in Australia excludes First Nations people in a multitude of ways. First Nations people are more prone to chronic health issues, have greater responsibility to support family and community members, and often need to work until much later in life. If the recommendations in this report are honoured, there is an opportunity to improve First Nations peoples’ quality of life and not leave them lost in a system that has been constructed from a non-Indigenous foundation. As the report states:
“In Aboriginal culture, looking after an elderly person is an accepted part of everyday life and it is a cultural norm to encourage the aged to remain at home. Many families live with three generations, appreciating the effects of grandparents and grandchildren on each other’s wellbeing. Of course, these preferences are subject to practical limitations of overcrowding, finances and logistics, and often families do need to turn to non-Indigenous institutional support” (page 7).
Amendments, such as earlier superannuation access and relaxed hardship conditions for early superannuation provision, would be very helpful for First Nations people who look after extended and senior family members. For First Nations people, much about our future is uncertain, so to give us the same financial reassurance as non-Indigenous people, will at least give us the knowledge that this is one system where we’re not being left behind.
As part of its mission to improve Indigenous policy in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand, ANZSOG is working to increase knowledge of Indigenous culture and history. Part of this is our support of the Analysis & Policy Observatory’s (APO) First Peoples & Public Policy Collection.
APO is an open access evidence platform that makes public policy research accessible and usable. It contains more than 40,000 resources, including specialist collections, grey literature reports, articles and data.
The First Peoples & Public Policy Collection is curated from a broad selection of key Indigenous policy topics, and provides a valuable resource on Indigenous affairs, with a focus on diverse Indigenous voices.