Prue Barry, Corporate Manager at FairVine Super, speaks to Rural Women's Network about her country upbringing, financial issues unique to women, and the new super fund that caters specifically to the retirement needs of women all around Australia.
What is your connection to the countryside?
I spent my formative years in the country. For the first nine years of my life, I lived in a small farming town in the Central West region of NSW called Blayney. Then my family moved to Orange, where I lived until I was 18 years old and moved away to Sydney to attend university. But I'm still very much a country girl at heart. While my main residence is in Sydney with my husband and two kids, we have a family farm in Willow Tree and family in Orange that we try to visit at least once a month.
What are some of the financial issues that you see as unique to rural women?
In the country, there are a higher proportion of women doing unpaid work in the home or on the farm. There also tends to be more income volatility in rural areas due to droughts, floods, fires, and now the coronavirus. In small country towns, there are also fewer full-time employment opportunities and more seasonal/casual work. This makes it harder for rural women to be financially independent, both for day-to-day living and in retirement.
Rural women are also more likely to experience domestic and family violence compared with women in urban areas, and this extends to "financial abuse", which is when someone takes away your access to money, manipulates your financial decisions, or uses your money without your consent. It's less obvious than other forms of family violence (such as physical violence and emotional abuse) and frequently goes undetected, but it's extremely destructive and can rob you of your independence.
“FairVine Super actively helps its members add more money to their retirement balance.”
How does FairVine Super cater to the financial needs of rural women?
FairVine Super actively helps its members add more money to their retirement balance. Recognising that many women don't have as many employer contributions going into their retirement fund - either because they're not working, have reduced hours, or have lower pay - FairVine Super has a variety of innovative savings tools built-in that enable members to grow their super independent of their work situation and without them having to change their lifestyle.
FairVine Super actively helps women to add more money to their retirement balances.
This includes FairRewards, which is a shopping portal that gives members a cashback of up to 20c per dollar whenever they shop at almost 500 online retailers. The beauty of this feature is that members are able to top up their super without having to contribute their own savings. You just buy the things you normally would from retailers like The Iconic, Adore Beauty, Cotton On, Booktopia, Petbarn and Blackmores, and the retailers deposit the cashback straight into your super.
I know a lot of rural women shop online because they can't just walk into a local Westfield to do their shopping, so something like FairRewards - which continually offers special deals and discounts on top of passing cashbacks directly to your super - is perfect for helping them grow their retirement savings.
The other great feature that's ideally suited for rural women is FairShare. This feature gives spouses the ability to share their super, with the main breadwinner of the house able to split his/her super with their spouse who is doing unpaid domestic or farm work. This has tax benefits for the breadwinner, and also helps to ensure the non-paid spouse is able to maintain their financial independence.