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Report forecasts Indigenous pension disadvantage

By Katie Weiss

Researcher Huw Brokensha says proposed changes could limit the number of potential years of retirement for Indigenous Territorians Researcher Huw Brokensha says proposed changes could limit the number of potential years of retirement for Indigenous Territorians

Researchers are investigating how proposed changes to age pension eligibility might affect the Northern Territory’s Indigenous population.

Researchers Dr Andrew Taylor and Huw Brokensha, from the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University, explored potential impacts of the 2014 Federal Budget’s proposed retirement age increase to 70 by 2035.

Mr Brokensha said the NT Indigenous population’s shorter life expectancy compared with the non-Indigenous population could lead to a disproportionate “enjoyment” of retirement years.

“Indigenous male life expectancies in the Territory are below the current age pension qualifying age but are projected to increase over the coming decades,” Mr Brokensha said.

“Yet, this increase might be countered by the current proposal to increase the age pension qualifying age.”

Life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Territorians are projected to decrease from a 14.4 year gap to an 11 year gap by 2035.

The researchers estimated the Federal Budget’s proposed age eligibility increase would see Indigenous females spending six per cent of their lives in retirement.

The study also anticipated Indigenous males would spend just one per cent of their lives in retirement, compared to 14 per cent for non-Indigenous males.

The researchers used a modification of the index in the National Commission of Audit (NCOA) report when making this analysis.

“These results suggest that the policy implementation will, on average, continue to place Indigenous Territorians at a disadvantage by limiting their number of potential years in retirement,” Mr Brokensha said.

The researchers suggested a more graduated increase, such as that outlined in the NCOA report, would afford Indigenous Territorians greater opportunities to qualify for the age pension.

Unlike the 2014 Federal Budget proposal, the NCOA report recommended a graduated increase in the eligibility for age pension to 70 years by 2053.

Mr Brokensha and Dr Taylor’s report, entitled “When can Indigenous Territorians retire? Impacts from increasing the age pension qualifying age”, can be viewed at W: cdu.edu.au/sites/default/files/research-brief-2015-01_0.pdf