Renewed calls for superannuation to honour Indigenous kinship

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The Indigenous Superannuation Working Group will lobby the new federal government to ensure it reprioritises the recognition of kinship structures in Indigenous communities for increased super access.

AIST chief executive and Indigenous Superannuation Working Group chair Eva Scheerlinck explained that kinship relationships are critically important to the cultural identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, these relationships are not recognised in superannuation law which impacts who members can nominate to receive their super after they die, or to whom a trustee can distribute a member's super to after their death.

superannuation indigenous kinship

Scheerlinck said: "In 2019 Treasury held a consultation on this issue, which was also identified by Commissioner Hayne during the Royal Commission. There have been no developments here and we will lobby the new government to reprioritise this piece of work."

She added: "Current settings impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members disproportionately, as the settings prevent the ATO from providing this information to anyone else other than the legal personal representative, creating a problem when the deceased person does not have one."

Established in 2013, the Indigenous Superannuation Working Group is a cross-industry initiative that seeks to improve superannuation outcomes for Indigenous people. The working group's members include super bodies, super funds, and representation from the First Nations Foundations.

This latest lobbying effort builds on previous attempts by AIST to urge the Treasury to consult directly with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to understand the issues they face in relation to super and the best steps to address them.

In 2019, the AIST recommended Treasury modify the definition of a dependent to reflect First Australian kinship structures which differ from the concept of 'dependent' arrangements of other Australians.

The AIST made this recommendation so that First Nations members could adequately provide for their dependents and better ensure their wishes are followed when they pass away.

It was also proposed that super death benefits could be paid to the most appropriate person considering the needs of each First Australian are different and will largely be informed by their individual situation.

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Andrew McKean is a journalist at Financial Standard. He covers superannuation, wealth management and financial advice. Prior to this he has worked freelance for not-for-profit organisations and corporate educators. Andrew has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and non-fiction writing from Macquarie University. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.