SuperFriend, our staff and board members are deeply saddened by the passing away of our founder Helen Hewett this week.
Helen was a visionary, envisaging the concept for SuperFriend in 2007, while Executive Officer of the Industry Funds Form. As a former CEO of Cbus Super, she had seen not only the extent of the impact that mental illness and suicide was having on members of industry superannuation funds, but the unique position superfunds were in to influence change because of the hundreds of thousands of employers who they had regular contact with. And thus, SuperFriend was born.
Speaking with SuperFriend CEO Margo Lydon in 2017 about the importance of SuperFriend’s work, she said, “If you can’t work [because of a mental health condition], you can’t save for your retirement because superannuation is connected to your earnings. So your superannuation is going to suffer, your retirement is going to suffer… [In addition], there’ll be costs on their salary continuance insurance, costs to their employer, it could cost them their job if they’re off too often”.
Helen was deeply passionate about the betterment of people and a strong advocate for an industry response to suicide prevention and the impacts of illness on members. She told Investment Magazine in 2008: “we are there as trustees to grow retirement benefits for people, but we’re also there to make sure they get to enjoy those times by being mentally healthy and by being alive”.
Remaining at SuperFriend until 2015, Helen’s zeal for and belief in SuperFriend was incredibly valuable in driving growth, raising awareness and advocating for its purpose. She also provided mentoring and guidance for the SuperFriend team, going above and beyond what was required in her role as Company Secretary.
Reflecting on Helen’s work, Margo said, “Helen was pioneer. She broke ground and inspired so many women in the super industry. Her innate ability to bring people together to improve outcomes for Australians led to SuperFriend becoming a reality. She had the incredible foresight in setting up SuperFriend and realising the potential it could have to improve the mental health and wellbeing of fund members. I was lucky enough to call Helen my friend and I will miss her dearly”.
Helen leaves an incredible legacy. Not only did she found SuperFriend, but she was the former Chief Executive Officer of Cbus Super, former Executive Officer of the Industry Funds Forum and founding member of Women in Super.
SuperFriend extends our deepest condolences to Helen’s family during this time.