Five Priorities Highlighted by First Nations Super Summit Report


The 2024 First Nations Super Summit has set five crucial priorities for the Indigenous Superannuation Working Group to address over the next 12 months, aiming to elevate super standards for First Nations people.

These priorities include the standardisation of forms and the empowerment of financial counsellors to act on behalf of their Indigenous clients, as well as enhancing the cultural competence of individuals within the super sector who engage with First Nations communities.

Furthermore, the priorities involve improving financial literacy education coupled with a proactive stance on early intervention, authorising super funds to identify individuals as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and recognising the importance of Indigenous kinship structures.

Upon reviewing the priorities, First Nations Foundation chair Ian Hamm acknowledged the importance of being in a room with individuals determined to fix systemic barriers that continue to hinder Indigenous people’s access to an equal retirement system.

“We’ve focused not just on identifying problems but really understanding what they are,” Hamm explained.

“Talking about Aboriginal people and finances is an almost undiscovered country for us.”

Reflecting on the summit’s success and examining the priorities, First Nations Foundation chief executive Phil Usher noted that the five selected issues have consistently kept First Nations people disconnected from their super.

“A significant challenge for Indigenous members in accessing their super is the lack of standardised form processes across super funds. Although there are many similarities in requirements, such as the date of birth of all nominees or residential address, there isn’t one unified process,” he said.

Usher explained this further highlighted the need for financial counsellors to act on behalf of their Indigenous clients.

“English can be a third or fourth language in some Indigenous communities. Without the assistance of a counsellor, there might be no way forward and lost super becomes a risk in such cases,” he explained.

Additionally, Usher emphasised the importance of having more culturally trained staff or Indigenous representatives within super funds to interact appropriately with First Nations members.

He acknowledged the necessity of improving financial literacy within First Nations communities, stressed the importance of allowing funds to collect data on First Nations people and underscored the significance of recognising Indigenous kinship structures.

“If funds don’t collect data from their Indigenous members, then we will always struggle to understand the real picture and we won’t be able to track how many First Nations people are accessing and managing their super,” he said.

“Similarly, if funds don’t recognise tribal marriages or Indigenous kinship structures when a family member passes away, the likelihood of the rightful kin being able to locate and access the deceased person’s super is very low.”

Speaking on a panel at the summit alongside Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) deputy chief ombudsman June Smith and Super Members Council of Australia chief executive Misha Schubert, Association of Superannuation Funds Australia (ASFA) chief executive Mary Delahunty said super is an important system however, the way it has been designed means the outcomes aren’t always fair.

“Super magnifies experiences in working life and serves that experience back up on a rather unappealing platter sometimes at the end of an individual’s economic contribution to this nation,” she explained.

“That magnification can be genuinely unfair if the system doesn’t replicate your working life.”

Delahunty observed that women and caregivers also face uneven super balances at retirement. However, she pointed out that in every statistic highlighting the shortcomings of the system, First Nations people are overrepresented.

“That being said, we need to look at the operations of superannuation, which comes to items like kinship, identification and understanding standard forms,” she added.

“If we walk into a summit next year and I’m still hearing about standard forms, I have not done my job.”

In giving his address to the summit, assistant treasurer and minister for financial services Stephen Jones added
the government wants to ensure First Nations people have as much in their super as non-Indigenous Australians
at retirement.

“There are ways we can make the superannuation system work better. I’ve had discussions with advocates over the years about how we deal with kinship issues when somebody passes, so I know there are things we can do better,” he said.

“There are things we can do better in providing information and advice to people in culturally appropriate ways as well.”

Jones explained the Superannuation Objective Bill 2023, presented to Parliament last year, will look at strengthening the super system.

“We want to ensure that the system is stronger and that the roots run deeper.”

In conclusion, Usher explained that it’s critical to take an industry-wide approach in addressing the unique challenges First Nations people face when trying to access their super.

“Success in this area will be achieved when we have the super funds, peak bodies, regulators, and administrators
all striving to achieve the same outcome,” he said.

FNF was jointly sponsored by AMP and AMP Foundation to produce the 2024 First Nations Super Summit and supported by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, Australian Financial Complaints Authority, as well as the newly formed Super Members Council.

Above is a media release by and from (26/04/2024) the First Nations Foundation. The original article can be found here ( and for more media releases, podcasts, educational tools and other materials please see the First Nations Foundation website here ( To look at the 2024 First Nations Super Summit Report see here (