Women and superannuation

**As a woman with no superannuation at all, this is going to be a rant, so be warned.**


There was no such thing as superannuation when I was working in the corporate sector during the 80’s, and after I married I moved to my then husband’s small business. I stress the word ‘small’ because we could not afford to pay ourselves a salary per se, that luxury was reserved for our employees. We only took out what we absolutely needed to survive.

The family business had its ups and downs, but it did pay the bills, and once our daughter arrived, it gave me the opportunity to work from home. Effectively, I became a full-time Mum, and a part-time, unpaid employee. I viewed my employment status as a bonus because I had never received a ‘wage’ anyway.

Unfortunately, the business did not survive the ’90’s and nor did the marriage. I’m not complaining, that is just how life is sometimes. I’m sure there are millions of women in the same boat. My rant, if you like, is about an economy that totally ignores the plight of women such as myself.

Let me explain. Superannuation was initially brought in as a means of ‘forced saving’ so the Baby Boomer generation would not be completely reliant on the government pension to survive in retirement. It’s probably not a bad idea, for those who work in corporation jobs, but what of people who own and run small businesses?

If you think my description of working in a family business is unusual, think again. There are a lot of people in my generation who never bothered about superannuation, or the lack thereof, because we naively assumed that we would strike it rich and be rolling in cash for our old age. Of course we never truly believe in the old age part, but that’s a rant for another day.

So there you have a whole lot of people with little to no super. At this point, my rant is unisex as it applies to men as well as women. But do you remember the part where I talked about working from home while raising my daughter? That is the part where the lot of women takes a nose-dive. By trying to have it all, we end up with no career path and no continuity.

Of the two, career related benefits, the lack of continuity is perhaps the most insidious. Back in the ’70s I was registered as a secondary school teacher, but once I became enamoured of computers, I stopped teaching and eventually, my registration lapsed. That should not have been a huge problem, except that about the same time, most government institutions transitioned from paper to digital records. And they made you jump through hoops to update your paper records.

Now when I say hoops, I mean great big world spanning vicious circles. Firstly, I was born in Hungary and came to Australia as a refugee [along with my parents, obviously]. I became an Australian citizen when I was 17 or 18, and I was given a rather lovely, paper certificate as proof.

Unfortunately that certificate, along with all my other documentation, including Hungarian birth certificate, was in my maiden name, but by the time I wanted to re-register as a teacher, all my current ID was in my married name.

Long story short, re-registering as a secondary school teacher was just too hard, so I let it slide. And by the time I had to look at getting a paid job again all my qualifications were years out of date. Caring for elderly parents pushed the continuity of my skills even further. I had kept up with my skills on the computer, but how did I go about proving that I still had skills?

Those of you who have followed some of my more personal posts will know about my efforts to regain recognized qualifications, and my attempts to use those qualifications in the paid workforce. I haven’t given up, but my track record to-date has not been very successful.

So… I’m 62 with some hard earned qualifications, but no job to speak of, and of course, no superannuation. What I do have, however, is the family home. It is my one and only asset, unless you count a 1988 Toyota Corolla. It is what I will have to sell one day to pay for my dotage. Yet now certain politicians are talking about including the family home in the asset test for the pension.

On February 17, 2015, Scott Morrison ruled out including the family home in asset testing, and yet, despite that, speculation is still buzzing around in the media.

Not to be cynical, but given Scott Morrison’s pragmatic, and callous treatment of refugees, and the many back flips coming from this government, I have a bad feeling about this. Pensioners are sitting ducks when it comes to governments wanting to balance the budget.

So I ask myself this question, if I don’t have any superannuation, and may not be eligible for the pension at age 65, just exactly what am I supposed to do to survive the golden years of my retirement?

I should probably have kept this post as a draft but I accidentally hit publish instead of preview. Ah well. I’d still like to know your thoughts.



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

14 responses to “Women and superannuation

  • Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)

    I don’t like to think of retirement. I don’t think anyone does. I paid into a pension for the six years I was in teaching in public school, so at least I have that. And now that I’m going to be a divorced lady, I’ve got to figure a few things out financially. I want to keep freelancing, but a regular job with benefits seems awfully tempting too.


    • acflory

      Ah… I’m sorry to hear that, but not surprised. I think lifelong financial independence is going to become a necessity for all women. what that will do to relationships I don’t know. Will women continue to be the ones to compromise their careers/financial well-being for the sake of the ‘us’?
      I’m not exactly a feminist but the questions are inescapable.


  • anne54

    I feel that I have been one of the lucky ones — quite a number of years with the same employer [Education Dept] and routine payment into Super. However I had so little understanding of Superannuation through all of my employment if I had had the option of opting out, or using it to get a loan, I probably would have.
    Of course, our Aged Pension should be funded properly so that people can actually live on it. I too worry about the family home being included in the assets test. The only things I would trust Scott Morrison to keep are his words about cutbacks. Perhaps he is planning to “Break the Aged Pensioners Business Models”!!


  • candy

    The “safety net” in the U.S. has too many holes too. People slip through all to easily.


  • davidprosser

    I think you can rule out the home being included as in asset testing. I’ve no doubt they’ve been told that doing so would be to shoot themselves in the foot. To do so would mean they’d calculate you needed a smaller pension. As without superannuation you’d only qualify for the minimum income anyway they’d end up having to top your pension up to the minimum income again from some other source creating further headaches for them.
    They can’t expect you to sell your home to support yourself as where would you live? That could be something else they’d have to find money to assist you with sooner or later in the rented sector.Forcing people out of their homes would not be an election winner. I think you’re safe.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  • EllaDee

    As I touched on in my …Old & Wise post, Australia’s current form of superannuation is hopeless. It’s not fit for purpose and I thing the pollies only ever cast their eyes over it as a potential piggy bank. They’re fine, and don’t give a stuff about anyone else.
    I quote Alan Kohler…
    “The cost of retiring, already enormous, is set to soar. Yet just as nobody knows what fees they are paying to have their savings lost, nobody knows what it will cost them to retire and whether they will be able to afford it. Mind you, it’s usually better not to know, because you can’t afford it.
    As Winston Churchill would say, superannuation in this country is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
    It is a national disgrace.”


  • metan

    And now with Hockey’s suggestion of the young being able to use their super to buy a house it could make it even harder for people when they’re older! A couple buys a house together but a relationship breakdown means both are be left with not enough for another home and greatly reduced super too…

    I think most people will be sticking with that universal plan, striking it rich in our old age…. C’mon Tatts…. 😉


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