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Super funds to fight domestic violence

Super funds take a stand against domestic violence and recognise the financial pain it also causes.
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman
December 2, 2016

It’s not everyday that 17 super funds take a collective stance, but when it comes to violence against women and family domestic violence it’s worth uniting for.

The not-for-profit organisation, Women in Super, which usually advocates for better retirement outcomes for women given the savings gap, has managed to get a number of industry super funds and organisations to sign its Charter on Addressing Domestic Violence.

Women in Super Executive Officer, Sandra Buckley says by signing the Charter the funds and industry groups are committing to creating supportive workplaces for their employees and assisting any employee facing domestic violence in their efforts to continue to work and earn a living.

“We do not accept family violence and will endeavour to enable any women amongst us touched by this issue to continue to maintain their employment and financial security, and offer them support.”

While we know that women tend to retire on less than 50 per cent of the superannuation savings of men, due mostly to having broken work patterns because of caring for loved ones, there is also evidence that shows the finances of many women suffer because of domestic violence.

Victoria’s women’s information service WIRE estimates that two million women suffer from financial abuse which may also be linked to violence.

It’s also estimated that 49 per cent of men and 41 per cent of women have experienced some form of violence over the age of 15 years.

Some of the additional financial challenges faced by victims of domestic violence include the need to make multiple court appearances often at short notice, being prevented from leaving the house to go to work, being threatened while at work and having no access to finances.

The Women In Super Domestic Violence Charter was formally launched by Women in Super at their annual National Roadshow, which featured Rosie Batty and is being promoted at the moment as part of a 16-day campaign to highlight the need for greater action around domestic violence in Australia.

The Charter has been signed to date by the following funds and service providers: ACSI, AIST, AustralianSuper, CareSuper, Catholic Super, Cbus, Energy Super, Equipsuper, ESSSuper, HESTA, HOSTPLUS, IFS, Industry Super Australia, Industry Super Holdings, ISPT, MTAA Super, PwC, QSuper, REST Industry Super, Statewide Super, Sunsuper, UniSuper, VicSuper, Vision Super.

“The superannuation industry has a long history and tradition of supporting women and families in the workplace and it is important that as a group of employers, we take a stand against family violence by committing to a number of measures, including creating a family violence policy and supporting employees and members who have been impacted by family violence”,” said Cate Wood national chair of Women In Super.

“We are heartened by the commitment shown by our industry, CEOs and their teams to understand and respond to the challenges of domestic violence, and that so many funds and service providers have already adopted the Charter”,  she said.

Here’s what the super funds are committing to:

Do what we can as employers to reduce family violence and to assist those who have experienced or are experiencing family violence. This all includes:

 Clearly communicating our stance on this issue to our employees

 Countering cultural attitudes that support gender inequity in all its forms

 Supporting employees who are experiencing domestic violence by:

 Creating a workplace family violence policy

 Including a family violence leave provision in employment conditions

 Assisting affected employees to stay in employment

 Providing a safe workplace

 Ensuring affected employees have access to appropriate resources and support

 Considering ways to assist fund members or others who are experiencing or have experienced family violence

 Considering ways to provide employment opportunities to those who have been impacted by family or domestic violence.

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Bianca Hartge-Hazelman
December 2, 2016
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