Superannuation the Big Picture

The retirement income system in Australia consists of:

  • a means tested public age pension scheme [External Site] ;
  • a system of compulsory superannuation [External Site] for employees provided by their employer at a minimum prescribed level. Employees may also pay, on a voluntary basis, some greater amount.

The retirement income system also recognises that self-employed Australians may provide for their own superannuation [External Site] .

Superannuation savings in Australia are encouraged by taxation concessions.

Compulsory occupational superannuation has existed in Australia since 1992 to ensure that employees receive an adequate level of superannuation support from employers.

Australian Governments have regulated to protect the interests of superannuation scheme members and ensure that moneys invested in superannuation funds continue to be available for future retirement income. Australia has a prudentially based system of regulation [External Site] that applies to most Australian superannuation schemes, including the Australian Government's schemes for its employees, the Public Sector Superannuation Accumulation Plan (PSSAP), the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS) and the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS). This regulatory system sets standards of conduct for trustees of superannuation funds.

The Australian Government has provided a superannuation scheme for most Australian Government employees since 1922. Today, there are three main superannuation schemes for these employees, the PSS and the CSS, which are closed to new members, and the PSSAP, which is available to most new employees who commence employment on or after 1 July 2005. The CSS and PSS provide defined benefits and are largely unfunded. The PSSAP provides fully funded accumulation benefits to members.

Australian Government Employers

Australian Government employing bodies (Australian Government agencies) play an important role in the Australian Government's superannuation arrangements.

All individual Australian Government agencies reimburse the Australian Government for their PSS and CSS employer costs. This payment is in addition to the employer productivity benefit contributions which are paid to the PSS or CSS Funds. Agencies need to be aware of the impact of resourcing decisions on superannuation costs to avoid significant increases when actuaries review their contribution rates each year.

Employer contributions for employees who are PSSAP members are paid directly to the PSSAP Fund.

For more information, see our employer page.

Australian Government Employees

Australian Government employees will usually be members of the PSSAP, PSS or CSS or receive Superannuation Guarantee equivalent benefits through arrangements under the Superannuation (Productivity Benefit) Act 1988. Some employees may have choice of fund. For more information, see our employee page.

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Last updated: 21 October 2013