The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has reunited over 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with more than $3.5 million in lost superannuation as a part of a series of visits to remote communities.
Earlier this year the ATO visited the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in remote South Australia as part of the ASIC Indigenous Outreach Program, where we participated in a week-long series of community events to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are getting the most value out of the super system.
Throughout the week the ATO reunited people with their lost super, assisted them to consolidate multiple accounts, and provide education on their entitlements. Similar assistance was also offered in North Queensland to over 200 residents in Hope Vale, Palm Island, and Aurukun.
Over the past two years the ATO has also partnered with the First Nations Foundation, a charity focused on Indigenous financial literacy, to deliver several successful ‘Big Super Day Out’ events in remote communities across North Queensland. Through this partnership the ATO has contributed to events which involved engaging with over 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said that through these visits the ATO encountered hundreds of individuals who were unsure if they even had super savings at all.
“We assisted one woman in the APY Lands who was approaching retirement and she discovered that she had more than $120,000 in super which she was unaware of,” Mr Whyte said.
“These are life-changing outcomes for the people in these communities. In another case a man in South Australia discovered he had accumulated more than $170,000 in super which he was able to use to purchase his first home.”
Difficulties with remoteness, internet access, language, documentation and identification means that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not getting the value out of the superannuation system that most Australians take for granted.
Mr Whyte urged people to engage with their super through all stages of their life, not just when they’re ready to retire.
“We encourage all Australians to check to see if they have any super they’ve forgotten about, and to consolidate their accounts to maximise the benefits of their savings,” Mr Whyte said.
“Data matching is getting better all the time, so even if you’ve checked in on your super in the past, check again. You can also prevent your super accounts from becoming lost or unclaimed by ensuring that your contact details with your super fund are up-to-date.”
The ATO has a range of tax and super support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information, visit ato.gov.au/Indigenous, phone the ATO Indigenous helpline13 10 30 or visit a shopfront.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ato