Showing superannuation funds based on investment performance of
and a super balance of
Past 5-year return
7.69% p.a
Admin fee

$70

Company
Super SA
Calc fees on 50k

$525

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Gold
Go to site
More details
Past 5-year return
New
Admin fee

$84

Company
Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation
Calc fees on 50k

$659

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Gold
Go to site
More details
Past 5-year return
New
Admin fee

$0

Company
Fire & Emergency Services Superannuation Fund
Calc fees on 50k

$530

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Other
Go to site
More details
Past 5-year return
7.34% p.a
Admin fee

$66

Company
Government Employees Superannuation Board
Calc fees on 50k

$321

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Platinum10 Year Platinum Performance
Go to site
More details

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Learn more about superannuation

What are government super funds?

Government funds – also known as public sector funds – are superannuation funds set up for employees working in the public sector, such as employees of state or federal governments. 

While there are a dizzying array of Australian superannuation funds available, public sector employees often have an easier task than most of us when it comes to choosing a super fund, because it may be done for them. Some government super funds offer defined-benefit funds and constitutionally protected funds to their members. For this reason, some public sector funds are not available to non-government employees.

However just because you’re a state or federal government employee, doesn’t mean you’re obliged to invest your retirement savings in a public sector or government fund. The federal government changed superannuation laws in 2005, giving Australian employees the choice of what fund their employer's superannuation guarantee contributions were paid into.

Additionally, many government super funds have opened up to all Australians, so even if you're not a government worker, you can still potentially benefit from a public sector super account to enjoy a more comfortable retirement, with less reliance on an age pension.

What are the features of government super funds?

  • Employers may contribute more than the 9.5 per cent minimum each financial year
  • Often there’s a limited range of investment choices
  • Long-term members may have defined benefits, whereas newer members are usually in an accumulation fund
  • They offer lower fees, and some offer MySuper accounts
  • Profits are put back into the fund for the benefit of all members

What type of government funds are available?

There are a range of superannuation funds available to public sector employees, some of which are owned and operated by the federal government for the benefit of its employees. Other funds are offered exclusively to state government employees within each of Australia’s states and territories.

The federal government established the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC), the trustee responsible for managing the Commonwealth superannuation schemes. CSC schemes are set up solely to meet the superannuation needs of Australian government employees and members of the Australian defence forces.

Commonwealth superannuation schemes aim to maximise members’ benefits and act in members’ best interests, responsibilities which are protected by law. The purpose of government funds is to provide a range of superannuation services to public sector employees structured in a way that meet (what can be) complex employment arrangements.

Federal public sector employees who do not have a choice of fund generally will have superannuation provided through:

  • The Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme
  • The Public Sector Superannuation Scheme

Each state government offers its employees a choice of default fund (offered to state government employees only).

An example of the public sector fund for each state and territory is as follows:

  • QSuper is the default superannuation fund for Queensland government employees, and became a public offer fund in 2017.
  • Only WA public sector employers can make employer contributions to GESB Super.
  • State Super is the primary fund associated with the NSW state government.
  • Super SA has a range of superannuation schemes for SA public sector employees.
  • VicSuper was originally a Victorian public sector fund, however in July 2000 it became open to everyone.
  • The NT Superannuation Office administers a range of NT public sector schemes.
  • RBF is Tasmania’s public sector superannuation fund and has been Tasmanian-owned since it was established in 1904.

Who benefits from government funds?

State and federal employees often benefit the most from government funds, because these types of superannuation funds have been designed to accommodate their salary and wage structures. Some government super funds have also opened their membership up to the Australian public, allowing workers in other industries to benefit from some of the fund's features.

Government and/or public sector funds offer members a tax-effective investment structure designed to assist public sector employees to maximise their superannuation investment. They operate under a similar premise to industry super funds in that they are not-for-profit entities. So there are no commissions paid, and all net investment returns are passed on to members.

Most superannuation funds available to public sector workers will also provide a salary sacrifice option as well as varying levels of death and total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance.

In some cases, government and/or public sector funds allow members to create an account for their partner.

Can public sector employees invest in other super funds?

As a public sector or government employee, you have the choice to invest your superannuation wherever you want. You are no longer obliged to stick with your public sector fund, unless you’re a federal or state public sector employee exempt from choice by law or regulations. If you don’t know whether this is your situation, a quick check with your employer will clarify.

If you’re a long-term government employee, there may be a financial benefit to keeping your superannuation savings with your default super fund.

As a public sector employee, you might want to change your super fund because:

  • Your current fund is not available with your new employer
  • You want to consolidate superannuation accounts to reduce fees and paperwork
  • You want a lower-fee and/or better service superannuation fund
  • You simply want a better-performing superannuation fund.

To help you decide, it’s wise to speak with an accountant or financial adviser. Many of the older public sector funds no longer take new members, and only exist for old members.

Some of these older superannuation funds offer members fully defined untaxed superannuation schemes. This means that your benefits do not depend solely on contributions and earnings. Your benefit may depend on other factors, such as your years of service or average salary.

So before you consider changing your super fund, make sure you understand what benefits you may be letting go in search of a better fund.

Can non-public sector employees invest in government funds?

While a few government super funds allow non-government employees to be members, many of these funds exist to serve state and federal government employees only, and have strict eligibility requirements. 

However, if low fees are a priority for you – which is a feature of a public sector fund – an industry super fund might appeal.  

Industry super funds are membership-based and do not have shareholders. Most industry super funds exist to benefit members, have lower fees and don’t pay commissions to financial planners. 

On the other side of the coin, a retail super fund might promise better returns even though it does pay dividends to shareholders and may charge higher fees.

If you have the expertise and financial resources to consider managing your own superannuation, a self-managed super fund (or SMSF) might be the next step on from your public sector fund.

If you'd prefer to keep things straightforward, you might want to explore a MySuper account - a low-cost and simple super product that some employers offer as their default super fund. A MySuper account offers low fees, simple fee structures and is simple to use. 

Super funds that offer a MySuper account, must give you at least one investment option and a standard, default level of life and total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance.

Other features of a MySuper product include:

  • An easily comparable fee structure, with a set list of allowable fee types
  • Restrictions on how advice is provided and paid for
  • Rules governing fund governance and transparency

Remember that if you have multiple super funds currently existing in your name, you can consolidate these savings by rolling the funds together, either through your chosen super fund or by contacting the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Frequently asked questions

What is a superannuation fund?

A superannuation fund is an institution that is legally allowed to hold and invest your superannuation. There are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia. They come in five different types:

  • Retail funds
  • Industry funds
  • Public sector funds
  • Corporate funds
  • Self-managed super funds

Retail funds are usually run by banks or investment companies.

Industry funds were originally designed for workers from a particular industry, but are now open to anyone.

Public sector funds were originally designed for people working for federal or state government departments. Most are still reserved for government employees.

Corporate funds are arranged by employers for their employees.

Self-managed super funds are private superannuation funds that allow people to directly invest their money.

How do you open a superannuation account?

Opening a superannuation account is simple. When you start a job, your employer will give you what’s called a ‘superannuation standard choice form’. Here’s what you need to complete the form:

  • The name of your preferred superannuation fund
  • The fund’s address
  • The fund’s Australian business number (ABN)
  • The fund’s superannuation product identification number (SPIN)
  • The fund’s phone number
  • A letter from the fund trustee confirming that the fund is a complying fund; or written evidence from the fund stating it will accept contributions from your new employer; or details about how your employer can make contributions to the fund

You might want to provide your tax file number as well – while it’s not a legal obligation, it will ensure your contributions will be taxed at the (lower) superannuation rate.

Can I take money out of my superannuation fund?

Superannuation is designed to provide Australians with money in their retirement. The government has strict rules around when people can take that money out of their fund because it wants to prevent people eroding their savings before they reach retirement.

As a general rule, you can only take money out of your superannuation fund when you reach:

  • Age 65
  • Your ‘preservation age’ and retire
  • Your preservation age and begin a ‘transition to retirement’ while still working

That said, you can take money out of your superannuation fund early based on one of these seven special conditions:

  • Compassionate grounds
  • Severe financial hardship
  • Temporary incapacity
  • Permanent incapacity
  • Superannuation inheritance
  • Superannuation balance under $200
  • Temporary resident departing Australia

How do you create a superannuation account?

Before you create a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.

Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.

Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).

When did superannuation start?

Australia’s modern superannuation system – in which employers make compulsory contributions to their employees – started in 1992. However, before that, there were various restricted superannuation schemes applying to certain employees in certain industries. The very first superannuation scheme was introduced in the 19th century.

Can I choose a superannuation fund or does my employer choose one for me?

Most people can choose their own superannuation fund. However, you might not have this option if you are a member of certain defined benefit funds or covered by certain industrial agreements. If you don’t choose a superannuation fund, your employer will choose one for you.

Is superannuation paid on unused annual leave?

If your employment is terminated, superannuation will not be paid on unused annual leave.

How do you set up superannuation?

Before you set up a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.

Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.

Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).

Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm not an Australian citizen?

Yes, permanent and temporary residents are entitled to superannuation.

How do you find lost superannuation funds?

Lost superannuation refers to savings in an account that you’ve forgotten about. This can happen if you’ve opened several different accounts over the years while moving from job to job.

You can use your MyGov account to see details of all your superannuation accounts, including any you might have forgotten. Alternatively, you can fill in a ‘Searching for lost super’ form and send it to the Australian Taxation Office, which will then search on your behalf.

How many superannuation funds are there?

There are more than 200 different superannuation funds.

How is superannuation calculated?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your gross salary and wages. So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How does superannuation work?

Superannuation is paid by employers to employees, at least once every three months. The ‘superannuation guarantee’ is currently 9.5 per cent – which means that your employer must pay you superannuation equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary. The guarantee is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

Superannuation is generally taxed at 15 per cent. However, if you earn less than $37,000, you will be automatically reimbursed up to $500 of the tax you paid. Also, if your income plus concessional superannuation contributions exceed $250,000, you will also be charged Division 293 tax. This is an extra 15 per cent tax on your concessional contributions or the amount above $250,000 – whichever is lesser.

You can withdraw your superannuation when you meet the ‘conditions of release’. The conditions of release say you can claim your super when you reach:

  • Age 65
  • Your ‘preservation age’ and retire
  • Your preservation age and begin a ‘transition to retirement’ while still working

 

What is salary sacrificing?

A salary sacrifice is where your employer takes part of your pre-tax salary and pays it directly into your superannuation account. Salary sacrifices come out of your pre-tax income, whereas personal contributions come out of your after-tax income.

Do I have to pay myself superannuation if I'm self-employed?

No, self-employed workers don’t have to pay themselves superannuation. However, if you do pay yourself superannuation, you will probably be able to claim a tax deduction.

What happens to my superannuation when I change jobs?

You can keep your superannuation fund for as long as you like, so nothing happens when you change jobs. Please note that some superannuation funds have special features for people who work with certain employers, so these features may no longer be available if you change jobs.

How much extra superannuation can I add to my fund?

There is an annual limit of $25,000 for concessional contributions – that is, money paid by your employer and extra money you pay into your account through salary sacrificing. There is also a limit on non-concessional contributions. Australians aged between 65 and 74 have a limit of $100,000 per year. Australians aged under 65 have a limit of $300,000 every three years.

What are concessional contributions?

Concessional contributions are pre-tax payments into your superannuation account. The payments made by your employer are concessional payments. You can also make concessional contributions with a salary sacrifice.

How do I change my superannuation fund?

Changing superannuation funds is a common and straightforward process. You can do it through your MyGov account or by filling out a rollover form and sending it to your new fund. You’ll also have to provide proof of identity.

How can I keep track of my superannuation?

Most funds will allow you to access your superannuation account online. Another option is to manage your superannuation through myGov, which is a government portal through which you can access a range of services, including Medicare, Centrelink, aged care and child support.