ASIC is on the road this week, leading a group of senior executives from the superannuation industry and the Australian Government to visit South Australia’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.
An initiative of ASIC’s Indigenous Outreach Program (IOP), the group will be in the APY Lands from 28 May – 2 June, to both learn from and help local Indigenous consumers with their super.
Representatives from Australian Super, HESTA, Super SA, QSuper and Prime Super will work directly with community members and interpreters to connect Anangu – the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara-speaking people - with their superannuation entitlements.
The trip will highlight the challenges faced by Indigenous consumers including difficulties in accessing their superannuation because of language, limited phone coverage and irregular identification documents.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said he hopes the trip will lead to real change to improve super trustees’ services to Indigenous consumers, ‘It shouldn't matter if you live in a remote area or if English isn't your first language – everyone should be able to easily get information about, and access to, their super.’
ASIC Indigenous Outreach officer Nathan Boyle said, ‘The superannuation industry has made progress to increase accessibility for their Indigenous members, particularly since the establishment of the industry’s Indigenous Superannuation Working Group.
‘This week’s outreach to the APY Lands will give the superannuation funds a first-hand appreciation of the remaining barriers Indigenous consumers may face. We look forward to participants using the experience to create innovative solutions to ensure that all Indigenous Australians are able to access and manage their superannuation entitlements.’
ASIC has organised the trip in partnership with MoneyMob Talkabout, an Alice Springs-based non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the financial literacy of Indigenous Australians living in remote communities, and First Nations Foundation, a Melbourne based Indigenous financial literacy charity.
The trip includes visits to communities of Indulkana, Mimili, Fregon, Pukatja and Amata.
The IOP is a specialist team that supports Indigenous Australians to be confident and informed consumers when making decisions about financial services.
MoneyMob Talkabout is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the federal and state government to operate a financial wellbeing service in the APY Lands.
First Nations Foundation (FNF) is a Melbourne-based Indigenous financial literacy charity. In 2014 FNF launched the Big Super Day Out, an Indigenous outreach event bringing together the superannuation sector and the Indigenous community of Redfern NSW. During the event, FNF assisted one Indigenous community member who had retired on an old age pension because he didn't know he had $750,000 in superannuation. Thanks to the assistance received, he was able to access the benefits of a $60,000 a year annuity and this vastly improved his life in retirement. FNF won a Financial Literacy Australia award for this fantastic event and are rolling it out nationally.
In 2014, the IOP received an influx of requests for assistance with super from the remote Eastern Cape York community of Lockhart River.
In order to assist the community, and provide a first-hand experience of the barriers Indigenous consumers face in accessing their super, ASIC asked senior representatives from QSuper – the superannuation fund that the majority of Lockhart River residents are members of – to accompany ASIC on a community visit to provide assistance to residents.
Following the trip to Lockhart River, QSuper has been actively thinking about ways in which they can assist their Indigenous members to access their superannuation. Just as an example, with their understanding of the unreliable postal system in some communities, QSuper has identified postcodes where it is likely that the majority of their membership base is Indigenous and where a significant number of members are 'lost' or about to be 'lost'. QSuper has then worked to relocate those members and have their lost superannuation returned to an account with their fund, or where a condition of release has been met, assisting the member to obtain their entitlement.
APY Lands and superannuation
- The APY Lands cover 103,000 square kilometres of north-western South Australia.
- The Lands are home to approximately 2,500 people.
- Jobs remain scarce and financial literacy remains very low.
- Indigenous Australians of the APY Lands have few options for accessing financial services and education, especially with regard to superannuation.
- The issues facing the Indigenous population of the APY Lands are similar to those facing Indigenous communities elsewhere including an inability to access their super because of language or other communication barriers, inability to access identification documents or certification services, and low levels of financial literacy.
- English is not the primary language spoken in the Lands, and many Anangu have very low levels of English.
- Access to high level interpreters is not always easy to arrange – and it can take up to two weeks to have access to a telephone interpreter. Even then, the interpreter often has similarly low levels of financial literacy and therefore limited understanding about super.
- ASIC's IOP has tried to assist consumers in the APY Lands to talk to their funds and relevant government agencies using interpreters that ASIC have hired. Some fund representatives and government agencies are not comfortable using an interpreter that has not been arranged by them for that purpose.
- A large number of Anangu do not have standard identification documents. Many older Anangu – who have letters from super funds addressed to them, do not know their date of birth, nor what date of birth might have been provided to their fund.
- There are limited facilities in the APY Lands to produce accurate copies of identification documents or to have these certified.
- There are often a limited number of landlines in a community that Anangu have access to, and the majority of the APY Lands does not have mobile telephone coverage.
- Strict identification compliance in the superannuation industry and among government agencies can create barriers for many Indigenous Australians to overcome in accessing their super. ASIC's work on breaking down these barriers is fundamentally premised on the notion that any funds in superannuation accounts belong to its members, and any unreasonable barriers that prevent members accessing their funds undermine that ownership.
- ASIC believes that there is ample room for the superannuation industry to make accessing superannuation easier for Indigenous Australians while also meeting their compliance obligations under the relevant legislation, particularly the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.