Women's Health Goulburn North East
Women's Health Goulburn North East

57 Rowan Street, Wangaratta, 3677
Tel 03 5722 3009 | Fax 03 5722 3020
Email whealth@whealth.com.au

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Living Longer on Less

LLOLIt seems everyone knows that women retire with much less super than men, but there is no dicscussion about it, and certainly no outrage!

Stark Inequities

womanAn Australian woman retires with

$112,000 superannuation (on average).


manAn Australian man retires with

$198,000 superannuation (on average).


Women over 65 now comprise 15% of the population and can expect to live about a quarter of their life beyond Age Pension entitlement at 67.

More than 50% of retired women live in households with annual incomes below $30,000.

Single, divorced and widowed women are amongst the most disadvantaged.

Living Longer on Less is a partnership project between Women's Health In the North (WHIN) and Women's Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) and is supported by an expert Reference Group. It began in December 2012, aiming to gather the experiences of women aged over 55 from diverse backgrounds across metropolitan and rural areas about how they plan to pay for their own care as they age. The Living Longer on Less Report is available here. The Foreword to this Report was kindly written by Elizabeth Broderick, Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Human Rights Commissioner. A postcard summarises the findings. Please click here to view it, and contact WHIN for copies.


Historic and on-going discrimination

Since the inception of the compulsory superannuation scheme in 1992, the plight of women retirees has remained largely unheeded by politicians, the government and the superannuation industry, with some of the measures introduced being openly detrimental to women.

Unequal pay

17% less pay than men.

Interrupted career path

The compulsory superannuation system is gendered - built on a model of a 'normal taxpayer', who works as an employee in a full-time position for an uninterrupted period of 35 years - a system that favours what has traditionally been a typical male working pattern of continuous, full-time work in a career with regular pay increases. Women typically have an interrupted career path - bearing and raising the next generation (or two) of taxpayers or caring for ageing parents, sick partners or adult children with disabilities.

Superannuation structure

A superannuation structure that rewards the typical male career of continuous full-time work and penalises workers on low pay or in part-time work - mostly women.

Persistent Myths

Women choose caring roles
YET this remains a cultural expectation.

Women share a husband's superannuation
YET 42% of Australian women are single.

Women of retirement age own their own home and can live on the pension
YET in 2011, 51% of homeless Victorians aged 55-64 are women.



But It's Not Women Like Me - Is It?



Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH)*

How women aged 59 - 64 manage on their income


Issues affecting capacity to work

*(ALSWH Databook for the 2010 phase 6 survey of the 1946-51 cohort, 2010. Total sample size = 10,011 with varying response rates for each question.)


How Does this Affect Women's Lives?

Poverty, illness, homelessness 



What Kind of Woman Lives in Poverty in Old Age?

There was enourmous diversity in the women's backgrounds and life experiences - their commonality was their gender.* 



*Edited statements from transcripts.


Demand Changes Now!

Call or email your Federal Member about this gender inequity. The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) has ideas for action. They recommend that government:

Women are often at a disadvantange in advocating for their own rights. Establishement of a Superannuation Consumer Centre would help women who require advocacy or advice in relation to their superannuation. (Although such a centre was propossed in a press release on 22nd October, 2012 from The Hon. Bill Shorten, MP, its establishment is contingent on matching funds from Industry.)



Sincere thanks to the 32 women who were so generous with their time in sharing their life experiences in the belief that change is possible and others will benefit from their contribution and honesty.

We are indebted to the team of experts on the Living Longer on Less Reference Group: Dr Kathy Landvoght, Good Sheppherd Youth and Family Service; David Tennant, Family Care; Jeff Fiedler, Manager, Housing for the Aged Action Group Inc.; Dr Deborah Loxton, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, University of Newcastle; Dr Meredith Tavener, Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, University of Newcastle; Dr Elizabeth Branigan, Swinburne University; Debra Parnall, Council Of the Ageing; Samiro Douglas, Women's Information and Referral Exchange.

Special thanks to Eva Scheerlinck and Janet de Silva from the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.


More about the Living Longer on Less Project

This is a Research Project being undertaken by WHIN in collaboration with Women's Health Goulburn North East, our rural partners.
A Program Logic for this Project can be found here.