* TRIGGER WARNING * This story discusses domestic violence. If this story is triggering please contact 1800 RESPECT.
- DEMI LYNCH -
Did you know 1 in 3 women don't have any funds in their superannuation?
Did you also know women already retire with 42% less in their superannuation balances than men?
Yet the Federal Government wants women to withdraw funds from their superannuation when fleeing domestic violence.
According to this new initiative domestic violence victims will soon be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation.
The Federal Government wants victims of domestic abuse to use these funds as a 'last resort lifeline’ when fleeing their abusers.
They claim it'll 'complement the government's existing initiatives to prevent and respond to family and domestic violence'.
However there are concerns this scheme could further endanger vulnerable women and increase poverty rates.
Domestic Violence NSW CEO Delia Donovan says this will affect women's ability to have financial independence later in life.
"In theory, it probably sounds really good, but it’s absolutely not okay in terms of creating further debt and poverty later on for women, who are already affected by the gender pay gap," she says, "a woman’s super balance should not determine her ability to live without fear of violence."
Women already are more likely to live in poverty than men; according to the 2020 Poverty in Australia report, "20% of all women are living in poverty."
And there is also an alarming increase in older women experiencing poverty.
So how exactly does the government think this initiative will help vulnerable women in the long run?
Jenny McAllister, shadow assistant minister for communities and the prevention of violence against women, says the government must provide immediate support and direct cash handouts for domestic violence victims.
"The message from the Liberals is that you’re on your own," she says, "drawing on meagre retirement savings to escape domestic violence exposes women to financial hardship and reduces financial independence at a time when it’s most needed."
The problem is the government has already been told how they can best support women experiencing domestic violence; for years advocates and domestic violence services have been calling on the government to provide women access to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave each year.
But according to the Fair Work Ombudsman, employees are still only entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year.
* If this story was triggering please contact LIFELINE at 13 11 14 or 1800 RESPECT.*
Feature Image: Supplied