Government says domestic violence superannuation policy ‘won’t proceed’ if concerns for victims remain

Frontline workers and Labor have raised concerns the proposal would ask women to use their retirement savings to seek emergency support.

Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume.

Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume. Source: AAP

Superannuation Minister Jane Hume says a new domestic violence policy won’t proceed if safeguards can’t be put in place to protect victims.

It comes after backlash from frontline workers that the superannuation policy would ask women to use their retirement savings to seek emergency support.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced the policy had been placed under review following the “strong concerns” raised about the measure.


Ms Hume said the government would not proceed with the policy if concerns remained about it placing victims at risk of coercion.

“If those safeguards can't be put in place, if those integrity measures can't be put there, we won't proceed with the measure,” she told reporters.

“It's not an easy thing to do to establish a system whereby there are safeguards to ensure that while women can access some of their savings … that they can't be coerced into doing so.”

The government announced this week that women fleeing violence would be allowed to withdraw $10,000 from their superannuation funds as a means of boosting their economic security.

The ACTU has warned the measure would require women to “ransack” their retirement savings to seek emergency support.

Domestic Violence NSW has also said the scheme could give abusers a means of “extorting money” from their victims.

Mr Morrison on Wednesday said the government was considering the concerns being raised by frontline groups.

“We have been consulting with various groups around the country about their views about that and they have raised strong concerns,” he told Parliament.

“We are listening to those concerns, Mr Speaker, and that measure is under review.”

The renewed scrutiny over the policy - first proposed in 2018 - comes following women’s marches across the country bringing attention for the need for stronger action against domestic violence in Australia.

Labor’s assistant spokesperson for the prevention of family violence, Jenny McAllister, said the government needed to listen to the concerns of frontline groups and abandon the proposal.

“There are no women calling for this, there are no legal centres calling for this, there are no victim survivors calling for this measure,” she said.

“In fact, what people have told us is this measure could be used by perpetrators to make circumstances worse for women who are currently experiencing violence in there relationships.”

Labor Senator Jenny McAllister.
Labor Senator Jenny McAllister. Source: AAP

Ms Hume said the government was committed to reviewing the feedback of frontline groups.

“If we can't get those safeguards right if we get the feedback from those frontline workers the people that deal with women fleeing violent relationships every day we won't proceed,” she said.

The Morrison government pledged $328 million to combat domestic violence in 2019 as part of the fourth stage of its National Action Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children.

Another national action plan is due to start next year.

3 min read
Published 18 March 2021 at 10:24am
By Tom Stayner