Health and community services sector industry superannuation fund, HESTA has called for early access of up to $10,000 of superannuation for victims and survivors of family violence under compassionate grounds.
HESTA chief executive, Debby Blakey, said urgent action was needed as on average at least one woman a week was killed by a partner of former partner.
“While early access to super is currently possible to stop the bank selling your home, pay for a dependant's funeral or get medical treatment under compassionate grounds, this is denied in instances of family violence,” she said.
“We think it’s entirely appropriate that super regulations extend compassion to victims and survivors of family violence to empower women with the financial means to escape abusive relationships.”
Blakey said responsibility for improving financial and other family violence support services rested with all levels of government and accessing super should be an interim “band-aid” measure.
“We urgently need a nationally coordinated response to family violence. While it’s encouraging that the Victorian State Government now provides financial support of around $7,000, having the financial capacity to leave a violent relationship shouldn’t depend on where you live in Australia,” she said.
“Women already retire with almost half the super of men, and they shouldn’t have to use their super for this purpose. But family violence is one of the rare situations in which short-term financial needs are more compelling than the need to preserve superannuation for retirement.”