An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

An Audacious Financial Wellbeing Legacy in Australia

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By Kong Ba Le, General Manager – Service Navigation & Support, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (Province of Australia-New Zealand)

No Interest Loans (NILs) has been operating in Australia since 1981.  At this time, the sisters in Melbourne witnessed an emerging need in the city where women were finding it increasingly challenging to pay for the cost of essential goods and services, forcing them to either go without or enter into debt-spiraling high-interest loan arrangements. Despite the advice of their accountants against unsecured lending to vulnerable women, the sisters posed the question “But what if it does work? Imagine the impact this could have on people’s lives”.  In this audacious move, Australia’s largest microfinance program came to be born.

Today Good Shepherd in Australia partners with almost 170 community organizations across 600 locations to help deliver safe and affordable financial services through the NILs program.  People can borrow up to $2,000 to pay for the cost of essentials like white goods, furniture, and education needs for their children and repay the loan with no fees, no chargers, ever.

NILs is an example of what can be achieved when sectors join forces – when not-for-profit, government, corporate, and community services align to have a positive impact on people’s lives. NILs is not just a loan, it’s the wrap-around services encompassing a financial conversation, workshopping budget options, and specialist referral pathways that help clients with their financial well-being, resilience, and capability.

Last year, more than 42,000 NILs loans were issued to women, girls, and families for essential goods and services – and the demand continues to grow.

Proud Norrargga and Kokatha woman, Eunice Bartlett (main picture) desperately needed a loan to have her car repaired. However, the overwhelming paperwork and her lack of trust in ‘white services,’ left her feeling apprehensive about reaching out.

I didn’t want to feel stigmatized. For an Aboriginal person, unfortunately, sometimes you can expect a negative experience,” Eunice explains.

Eunice was referred to Good Money in Salisbury by National Australia Bank (NAB) and she loved the process and the service so much she said she plans to come out of retirement to help connect her community to NILs.

Amie from Good Money is just so helpful! I felt overwhelmed with the paperwork, but she made the process so easy. I kept asking Amie, ‘Is this alright – how do you think I’ll go?’ She made me feel clear about the process. It was just lovely!” Eunice was approved for her loan and had her car back on the road in days.  Her car allows her to support her community and help her children with the care of her grandchildren.

I just couldn’t believe it really was no interest. Ever. The repayments for me are $40 a fortnight. I don’t even notice the repayments. The team at Good Money were so helpful in ensuring I could afford to pay that within my budget.  They didn’t want to stretch me or make me feel stressed.

When asked if Eunice would recommend NILs to others, she said. “I already have told people about NILs – I told my sister and have already talked to five or six of my relatives.NILs has made a big difference in my life, and I am keen to connect my community to the program. I feel so happy!

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