Backpackers play a major role in Australian agriculture, but many forget to collect their full wage when they head off on their next adventure.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) reports it has amassed $540 million in unclaimed superannuation belonging to temporary residents who have left Australia.
Now, a backpacker organisation wants the Federal Government to set up a special fund to help travellers access their money.
Julian Ledger is the CEO of the not-for-profit Youth Hostels Association and says many young people don’t know what superannuation is or how to claim it.
Mr Ledger is part of the Backpacker Youth Tourism Advisory Panel which is in early talks with the government about introducing an easier system.
“It would be good if the government could come up with a standard default fund which employers could then pay into… rather than leaving it to all the different super funds,” he said.
Backpackers Arthur Jan from France, 22, and his mate Gesper Rauteanen, 20, from Finland have been picking fruit and vegetables on Bundaberg farms for one week.
They are unfamiliar with the term superannuation.
“I think I’ve heard of it but I didn’t really hear that name before,” Arthur said.
“I really don’t know all the details here, but we definitely have things for retirement in both of our countries.”
Both men say they will look into claiming their super when leaving Australia.
Michael McMahon runs Abbotsleigh Citrus at Gin Gin and employs up to 500 backpackers throughout the year.
Once they earn over $450, he pays 9.25 per cent in super, and he’s not happy his workers aren’t claiming it.
“It’s a lot of money that business owners have paid to backpackers’ super funds.
“It just gets chewed up and goes back to the government so I’m not sure there wouldn’t be better things to do with that money.”
The ATO holds unclaimed superannuation for five years and then invests it back into Federal Government revenue.
However, it can always be reclaimed by the worker.