Supporting Early Release of Superannuation Benefits on Compassionate Grounds
The Nationals-Liberal Government has released for consultation the exposure draft regulations on the transfer of the early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
These regulations provide the necessary administrative changes to reflect the transfer of responsibility for early release on compassionate grounds from the Department of Human Services to the ATO. The regulations complement the legislation giving effect to this transfer of responsibility, which was introduced into Parliament on 7 February 2018.
The draft regulations will also improve the integrity of current processes and aim to expedite the release of funds to successful applicants.
The regulations require the ATO to directly notify a member’s superannuation trustee when it has authorised the early release of funds, removing the need for that trustee to independently confirm the amount authorised for release.
At what are often times of great stress and concern for the individuals involved, these changes will cut the administrative burden for superannuation trustees and will help successful applicants receive their authorised funds sooner.
The exposure draft regulations and explanatory statement are available on the Treasury website at https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2018-t265786/
Interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide their view by Friday 23 March. These regulations support the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Bill 2018, which was introduced to Parliament on 7 February 2018, and are unrelated to the ongoing review of the early release of superannuation benefits.
National organ donation program surpasses 10,000 lives saved and improved
The latest report on Australian organ donation and transplant outcomes shows that last year, the number of deceased organ donors continued at the record level achieved in 2016.
The 2017 Australian Donation and Transplantation Activity Report notes that 510 deceased organ donors and their families, and 273 living donors, saved and improved the lives of 1,675 Australians, with a further 9,600 Australians benefiting from eye and tissue transplants.
In 2017, the number of transplant recipients from deceased organ donors under the national program since system reforms began in 2009 passed the 10,000 mark. This has been achieved through the generosity of 3,464 deceased organ donors and their families, together with the substantial improvements in the health system’s donation capacity and capability over the past nine years.
The reforms have seen the number of deceased organ donors more than double and the number of Australians receiving a transplant increase by 75 per cent. This is clear progress but there is much more to be done. In Australia organ donation will only proceed when the organ is medically suitable and can be matched to a recipient. The introduction in July of simplified, online donor registration is another significant milestone, designed to increase Australia’s consent rate, which remained at around 60 per cent in 2017. A rate of 70 per cent would place Australia in the world’s top ten performing nations.
Lifting our national consent rate is fundamental to saving more lives through transplantation. This can be achieved by increasing the number of people on the Australian Organ Donor Register, and by ensuring the issue of donation is always discussed with families by trained donation specialists in our hospitals. Registration has a direct influence on higher consent rates. Last year, nine in ten families agreed to donation when their loved one was a registered donor.
The community is a vital partner in our efforts to continue to save and improve more lives. With 1,400 Australians waitlisted at any one time for a transplant, and a further 11,000 people on dialysis, it is crucial that all Australians register and share their donation decision.
Instant online organ donor registration is available at https://register.donatelife.gov.au/
You can view the 2017 activity report at http://www.donatelife.gov.au/national-performance-data
Time to pick up for a tidier Australia
Clean Up Australia Day 2018 is approaching on Friday 2 March for schools and Sunday 4 March for community groups. This is a great opportunity to engage with local schools and groups in a practical way to help clean up our local communities.
I encourage involvement by local community members in a project near them if possible.
This can be done by reaching out to schools and community groups or by joining an existing project which can be found using this website: https://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/join/