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Call for Superannuation Access for Victims of Family Violence


There's an increasing call for family violence victims to be provided with early access to superannuation. Industry superannuation fund HESTA is pursuing a change to super rules from the Federal Government.

Debby Blakey, the HESTA CEO, wishes to get rid of the financial barrier for females who have to leave a cruel relationship. She said that finances are often one of the inhibiting factors when it comes to women wanting to leave an abusive relationship. The sad thing is that the survivor does not have enough financial support either from the family or other outside sources.

And while it is possible to access one's super earlier than the mandatory date of release, just like getting medical treatment on compassionate grounds or paying for the dependant's funeral, cases of family abuse or violence don't get this privilege.

Advocates like Eddy think it's only right that superannuation rules consider compassion for survivors or victims of domestic abuse or violence to give women the financial ability to get out of a violent relationship.

To maintain a level of retirement funding, HESTA is suggesting a new ruling for survivors and victims of family violence be given access of around $10,000 under this new ruling. This ought to be a temporary "band aid" measure until all government levels cover improved funding for monetary as well as other support services.

Ms. Blakey stated the need for a coordinated response from the legislative bodies upon this matter is essential. While the thought that the state government is now providing at least $7000 is inspiring, the fact remains that gaining the capability to get away from an abusive relationship must not be dependent on the state where you live in Australia.

Christine Nixon, Chair of the Good Shepherd Microfinance, supports this proposal. She noted that monetary constraints are frequently what stops females from demanding separation from abusive relationships. She said that their problems are complicated and the bottom always goes back to the financial aspect of the matter.

Efforts are being exerted in raising consciousness towards the insufficient assistance towards women and their hopes that the superannuation industry will spearhead this suggested change in the condition of early release.

Women suffering from such financial exclusion will be vulnerable to deception from the money lenders making their situation even worse with the continued cycle of abuse.

Moreover, financial counselors see first-hand that financial hardship and family violence are intertwined. Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia, stated that among the various reasons women keep holding on to an abusive relationship is because of money – the absence or lack of financial support.

It is the spouse who has the money and is therefore in better control of the situation while the woman has less control in times of such crisis. With the right push, superannuation can make a difference in these women's lives and give them the opportunity move one and start a better life.

And under the proposed change of rule, anybody seeking early super release would have to present certification from a reliable domestic violence organization or social worker that they do certainly require instant access to financial aid.

Opinion: Super isn't the solution to each financial problem but it does provide solutions to some problems like housing. Read this article for more information - Current Government Scheme for the Affordability of Housing with Super Funds Criticized

Perhaps family violence or domestic violence is one of the most detestable crimes– how can somebody abuse the people they're supposed to love. It occurs, more frequently than we know. Often, women are the victims, though, we're that men are victims of violence and abuse at home as well, although they're less likely to ask for help.

There's a certain need for increased funding and more support services to help women, men and certainly, their children, get away from the insidious social problem that is family violence. On the other hand, using superannuation as a way to fund the escape is a dangerous and temporary solution. Without a doubt, as Ms. Blakey emphasizes, governments have to step up with help and fast.

Thanks to the perception that superannuation just remains untouched for a long time, it is easy to see the reason it's become the solution for all monetary difficulties. Whether it is being suggested for financing first-home deposits or a monetary medium to put proceeds from a family home's sale, superannuation is often perceived as an easy alternative.

On the other hand, there are tight controls regarding how and when early access to superannuation can be given; it is something frequently refused instead of approved whenever applied for, and it's the testament to the requirement to hold money in superannuation for its purpose – to finance retirement.

While nobody wishes to see anybody trapped in a violent relationship because of not having sufficient money to get away, there is no guarantee that getting superannuation would certainly solve the issue. Perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence are calculating and cold, cutting away their victims' self-worth.

Frequently, men and women go back to violent relationships because it is the mere place they think they have value and also that their abuser is the sole individual who'll ever have them. Then think of the "value" that individual will quickly have if they own $10,000 in a bank?

Until there are adequate active support services set up to help the victims make the emotional break, providing them with access to cash is unlikely to be sufficient to escape their abuser.

Should access to superannuation be granted as a temporary aid to assist victims of family violence? What do you think?

Can Sexual Abuse Victims Claim Compensation?

Mal Byrne, personal injury attorney, writes about the monetary compensation options for sexual abuse victims in South Australia.

No one can imagine what it'd be like to be a sexual abuse victim. The damage done to sexual abuse victims is deep. Sexual abuse leaves a permanent psychological scar on its victims. While a few victims get better, the psychological mark is constantly there, and it doesn't take much to open the wound again, particularly for victims who've been abused as kids.

Imagine being a sexual abuse victim, but going through a lifetime of feelings of embarrassment, shame, and guilt, which are all entirely irrational because you did not do wrong, but which will not fade away. The most precious property of a child is their innocence.

You need to be a kid before you can mature. On the other hand, sexual abuse perpetrators take away their victim's childhood and damage the change from childhood to being an adult.

What are the options for child abuse victims to get compensation for what they've suffered? Sexual abuse is certainly a crime and thus comes under the Victims of Crime Act 2001 jurisdiction. On the other hand, if you're a sexual abuse victim, then you should report the incident to law enforcement authorities, ask the police to co-operate fully and prosecute the perpetrator.

If the perpetrator is charged and found guilty or plead guilty to the crime, you'll be allowed to get compensation. If the offender is charged but acquitted, or the South Australian state chooses not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence to attest the offense, you'll just be able to claim crime compensation if the South Australian state accepts that the offense took place "beyond the reasonable doubt."

Another issue with Victims of Crime Act 2001 claims is that the amount of available compensation is only limited. There is a $50,000 maximum amount payable plus disbursements and legal fees. If you're an adult victim of child sexual abuse that took place decades ago, the victims' entitlement to crime compensation came into effect in 1971 only, and you won't be able to get compensation if the abuse took place before that date.

When the law came into law, there was $10,000 maximum amount payable and was increased to $20,000, thus, if the crime occurred throughout those periods, your compensation entitlement will be limited to such maximum sums.

The Victims of Crime Act isn't necessarily your sole choice. If the offender had home and contents coverage during that time and you were not living with the perpetrator, you could sue the offender straight under that ruling.

You will certainly need to verify that the crime took place, but merely on the balance of probabilities instead of beyond reasonable doubt. And if the perpetrator doesn't have house coverage, you'll have to be sure that the offender has adequate assets to pay you before it'd be proceeding.

If the perpetrator is a health expert and you were under his care, then you can sue the perpetrator under their professional insurance policy.

If the perpetrator commits the deed during their employment, then you could sue the employer for what's known as vicarious liability, that's to say, the employer is held responsible for the offender's conduct.

On the other hand, you will have to verify that the employer was aware or should've known about the sexual abuse. If as a child, you were abused at school or by a priest, or as a State ward, then you could still sue even though the employer was not aware or should've known of the deed, if you can prove that the business or organization that the offender was employed was operational acting as a second parent.

This area's law is still unclear. On the other hand, if you were sexually abused as a boarder at a school or as a State ward, you're much more likely to establish this child-parent relationship than other victims.

In South Australia, there's a three-year statutory limit or expiry date for personal injury claims. The awareness of the public about sexual abuse in government institutions, churches and schools has increased considerably over the last several years.

Also, the criminal law was revised a few years ago to get rid of the statutory limit for criminal prosecutions. Consequently, numerous victims of sexual abuse who were molested as kids by teachers, church ministers and other individuals in positions of authority have decided to come forth and report the incident, and there have been numerous successful criminal prosecutions.

On the other hand, while the time limit was taken out for criminal prosecutions, the civil claims law is unchanged. The three-year period is still the hugest obstacle that the victims face. But the Courts have the option to grant victims with a time extension on the period of three years of limitation, but it is hard to know when such extension will be given.

Most of these claims do not run to trial. The precedent verdicts are also sparse. If you are a childhood sexual abuse victim and want to get compensation, you'll require the assistance of an attorney, particularly if the time limit has expired. Nobody can guarantee that you'll get the time extension.

However, the Courts are aware that sexual abuse in establishments was widespread in the 60's, 70's and 80's and will show the victims as much concern as the law permits. But there is no complete right to a time extension and the problems in getting the extension cannot be underestimated.

Sexual abuse is inexcusable in any society. Victims have to be supported and backed by the community as well as the Courts. And when your entire life has been devastated by sexual abuse, one way to healing is justice. But the justice system is flawed.

When the abuse happened many years ago, the witnesses and the abuser may be all deceased. Memories and accounts blur and mostly less precise. The plaintiff constantly has the burden of proof in attesting the allegations. So the way to justice for sexual abuse victims is thorny and difficult. Nevertheless, despite when the abuse took place or whether the time limit has expired, it's an act of courage for the victims to come forward, re-tell the incident, and get compensation.

Early Access to Super on 'Compassionate grounds

If you are having financial problems, or are suffering from the chronic health issue, you may be able to access your super benefits early.

If you need medical treatment or medical transportation for medical care, then you might be able to get early access to super on 'compassionate grounds.'

If you, or a dependent, suffer serious disability, you may request for early release of super to pay for an adjustment to a home, or car, to allow you or your dependent to live much better lives with the severe impairment.

If you are suffering from financial difficulty you can access your super early in two particular scenarios:

The early release of superannuation benefits on 'compassionate grounds' can also matter for super fund members having trouble covering health-related and disability-related expenses, and even the funeral expenses of a member can be covered.

What is the meaning 'Compassionate Grounds'?

The main rule is that you will only access your super benefits once you reach your preservation age (55 to those who are born before July 1960, and a minimum of 56 years and as much as 60 years for those born on or after1 July 1960), and you retire. Retirement, on or after conservation age, is the common condition of release.

The other condition of release is 'compassionate grounds' and such situations include needing aid with expenditures that cover particularly:

Modifications to the house and automobile where a fund member or fund member's dependent suffers from a serious impairment.

Funeral or burial or other costs connected to the death of a dependent, that is, the departed individual was economical, domestically or personally reliant on your palliative care for the terminal condition (in the case the super member is dying or going through impending death) suffered by you or one of your dependents.

If the subject is a bit complicated to you, and you feel you need more information about it, feel free to read more of our article - Under what Circumstances can one withdraw their Superannuation Funds - A Full Guide

Disability, Terminal Illness, and Superannuation

It is always uncertain what every new day brings but unfortunately one's new day could also be the last. We are never going to know when disability happens or unexpected illness and death. These things could happen to us or someone we know very well.

This discussion is going to deal with the various kinds of superannuation entitlements if you are dealing with terminal illness, disability or even death.

When a member of the SMSF is diagnosed with a serious illness, it is advisable that they consider how they should pay their superannuation entitlements. Some of the choices involve getting entitlements as a benefit for terminal illness, a benefit for permanent disability or a death benefit to their family upon their death.

The superannuation benefit option could spell the matter between how much is retained in the family and going to the Taxation Office.

Benefit for Terminal Illness

Under the grounds of terminal illness, for a benefit to be released, the member of the SMSF must satisfy a few conditions:

the benefit is acquired within one year of the certification

two medical practitioners who have been registered have certified, separately or jointly, that the person has been injured, suffers from an illness, which would likely result in death within 12 months

at least a member of the medical practitioners who have registered is a specialist in the field that is linked to the sickness or the injury

The member can then choose to acquire the payment as the income stream (a pension) or a lump sum benefit.

If the member chooses to receive a pension benefit, the benefit will be taxed as a regular superannuation income stream. If the trust deed of the SMSF only goes for a lump sum, then the member will not be able to get the benefit as the income stream.

If the member chooses a lump sum benefit, the benefit is going to be paid to the member free of tax, without regard to the age of the member, granted that the conditions above have been met.

You could also have a refund of tax deducted from super payments received while you were having the illness up to 90 days before advising the fund of your condition.

Necessary care is a must when you consider a transfer of a benefit for terminal illness to a different superannuation fund for payment as the income stream. According to the Income Tax Assessment Act of 1997, the transfer is not going to be treated as a carryover and is therefore counted against the non-concessional donation limit of the member.

This might result in the incurrence of excess donations tax liability by the member.

Otherwise, if the member chooses to let their superannuation savings be transferred to a different superannuation fund before applying to have their benefit released on the grounds of terminal illness, then it is going to be treated as a carryover and would not count as a donation to the new superannuation fund.

How Can You Access Your Superannuation?

Super is a significant investment, and you can normally only start accessing it once you turn 60 or when you reach a preservation age. Your preservation age can range from 55 – 60, depending on when you are born.

While you may not be able to access your super right now, it might be a good idea to plan how you might take your super once you do retire. So let's take a look at the options.

Accessing Your Super as a Lump Sum

If you access your superannuation in the form of a lump sum, you can choose the entire amount as you wish. You are in the position to invest it in real estate and property, or other ways that you think can provide you with the financial growth you want to support you in retirement.

You also have the option to put it in a single bank account. Bear in mind though that you might have to pay tax on the lump sum if you are aged under 60. And you'd be taxed on the interest or quite possibly on the capital gains you make from the investments that you choose.

Accessing Your Super as Account-based Pension

And remember, once the money is out in the super system, you lose the potential tax benefits. A second choice is an Account-based pension. It provides an income flow by investing your money from your superannuation account on a constant basis.

You have to withdraw a minimum as a percentage of your account balance each year depending on your age. Within limits, you can change the amount you want to receive year on year. So if you want to leave it up a bit by dining a bit more on seeing some shows, for example, you could increase your pension.

Your pension's investment earnings would be free from tax. And your income flow investments also become tax-free once you reach 60. Now with an account-based pension, it's your money that you depend on, and that should get you paid until your superannuation runs out.

So you must plan on the manner in which your super is being invested leading into retirement. You probably want to ensure it lasts for a very long time, so you'll also need to consider how it is invested while in the pension phase as well.

Getting Annuity

Your third choice is purchasing an Annuity product. The annuity pays a guaranteed series of payments over an agreed period. Annuities tend to be secured and reliable as an option. They can give you peace of mind over the guaranteed income, regardless of what might happen in the financial markets.

However, you will sacrifice flexibility if ever your circumstances change, as you cannot easily make lump sum with your withdrawals. Your life expectancy is a major consideration when it comes to this choice. Along with an account-based pension, an annuity is considered more tax-effective than taking out a lump sum.

We can help you understand the differences in these three options and which is the best option for you. Whatever your choice is, giving enough time and attention in your retirement's strategies now will help you plan the retirement lifestyle you are dreaming of.

If you want information about this subject, or looking for sound advice, don't hesitate to call our administrators at 1300 252 167

We can help you find and consolidate your super should the need arise. You can go to our homepage and see the different steps you can take to give you a good start. Also read more of our articles for your knowledge in our Resource Page.


Disclaimer: All information on this website is of a general nature only. We have not taken into account your financial situation, needs or objectives. You need to make up your own mind and ascertain yourself if it is right for you. We recommend you read the product disclosure statement(s) and the financial services guide before making any financial decision.

FIND YOUR SUPER ACCOUNTS FREE of charge!

Have you changed your name, address or job in recent times?

If so, Now is the time to find those multiple funds & consolidate your super!

Australian Super Finder specialise in searching for lost, inactive and active superannuation accounts.

Complete the form to find your money. complete the form

Free Super Search
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Australian Super Finder is a business name of The Trustee of Saicare Trust ABN 44 772 398 737. The Trustee of Saicare Trust is an Authorised Representative of Financial Advisers Dealer Group Pty Ltd ABN 19 620 315 228 AFSL No. 501362, Authorised Representative Number 463275. All information on this website is of a general nature only. We have not taken into account your financial situation, needs or objectives. You need to make up your own mind and ascertain yourself if it is right for you. We recommend you read the product disclosure statement(s) and the financial services guide before making any financial decision.