Two of Mavis Robertson’s closest colleagues have paid tribute to her role in the creation of superannuation as we know it and her inspiration to those within the industry.
Together with Garry Weaven, chair of IFM Investors and ME Bank, she was one of the instigators for a compulsory superannuation system for all Australians.
Weaven recalled Mavis as follows. “Mavis Robertson will be remembered as an all-pervading and inspirational influence on the development of the industry superannuation movement. She lived her life as if it were one long campaign for a better fairer society.”
He also noted her “formidable organising force” in creating AIST, ACSI and the Mothers’ Day Classic event, as well as in running Cbus.
“Her intellect, inventiveness and persistence were fundamental to the early development of what today is Cbus, one of Australia’s great industry superannuation funds,” said Weaven. “As a ground breaking initiative of the union movement in the 1980s, Cbus led the way to the ultimate achievement of a world class super system for Australia. For me personally, Mavis was a cherished friend and confidante. She’ll be sorely missed by the many people, especially women that she helped and inspired.”
Another long-time collaborator with Mavis Robertson was former chief executive of AIST, Fiona Reynolds, now managing director of UNPRI in London.
Reynolds said: “It’s hard to put into words the loss I feel with the sudden passing of Mavis. I know that many people will focus on Mavis’s extensive achievements, as they should, so I won’t repeat them. To me Mavis was far more than these achievements, she was a mentor, a friend, a trusted adviser and she was always in my corner, in fact I wouldn’t be sitting here in London today running a global organisation of significance without her.
“We shared laughs, we shed tears, we celebrated achievements, we grieved losses. She had a big heart, she loved her family, her friends, the industry super movement, the union movement and the Richmond football club (in that order). I hope the many people she touched, especially the women she mentored will always remember the importance of supporting and not competing with other women – this is something she instilled in me. She will be sadly missed.”
Robertson who died on Tuesday night in Melbourne, was a founding member of the Conference of Major Super Funds (CMSF); Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST); Women in Super; the Australia Council of Super Investors (ACSI); and the Mother’s Day Classic – the latter having raised more than $24 million for Breast Cancer research. In 1994, she was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for her services to the superannuation industry.
Others who have already gone on record mourning Mavis’s death, include Tom Garcia, chief executive, AIST.
Garcia said: “Mavis leaves an enduring legacy in superannuation. Many of the successful initiatives that have been borne out of the not-for-profit super sector are a direct result of her vision and passion”.
Cbus also remembered Robertson, not least for her role in guiding the Allied Unions Superannuation Trust (AUST) and the Building Unions Superannuation Scheme (BUS) to merge. Robertson served as a board member of the Cbus and served as interim chair from 1998 to 2000.
Steve Bracks, chair of Cbus, said: “Mavis dedicated herself to the cause of ensuring that building and construction workers had access to superannuation in their retirement. She was a fierce advocate for the industry fund model of all-profits-to-members and an important mentor to many who took up the role after her.”
David Atkin, chief executive of Cbus, said: “There are tens of thousands of retired construction and building workers who would be saddened today, knowing the service that Mavis put into their fund and the difference that having superannuation savings has made to their post-work lives.
“Many, many more would also recognise Mavis’ role in championing the right for building workers in high risk occupations having access to previously unavailable insurance cover for death and impairment through their superannuation.”
Mavis is survived by her son Peter, her daughter-in-law, Marjorie and grandchildren Alec and Molly.
Her life will be honoured in a special ceremony at this year’s Mother’s Day Classic, which will take place on May 10 (Mother’s Day) at more than 100 locations including every capital city in Australia.