Giving vulnerable Australians a StepUP
New research released today shows that the vast majority of people who participated in the Australian Government’s StepUP loan program found it had made a real difference in their lives.
The Centre for Social Impact report, A little help goes a long way: Measuring the impact of the StepUP Loan Program, is based on a survey of 500 StepUP loan recipients across the country.
StepUP is a partnership between the Australian Government, National Australia Bank and Good Shepherd Microfinance aimed at helping Australians on low incomes who lack access to affordable credit and are at risk of financial and social exclusion.
Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, representing the Minister for Community Services Julie Collins, launched the report in Canberra.
“This research shows people on the program feel more in control of their finances and less worried and anxious,” Ms Brodtmann said.
“Three-quarters of survey respondents saw a positive change in their financial situation, while close to two-thirds stopped borrowing from pay day lenders.
“More than half of respondents felt their living conditions had improved and around two-thirds reported increased self-esteem,” Ms Brodtmann said.
Ms Collins said the program is a great example of what can be achieved when government, business and the community sector work together.
“Programs like StepUP are making a real difference to thousands of Australians and this report just reinforces that,” Ms Collins said.
“In the 2011-21 financial year, the StepUP program provided 1,612 low-interest loans to Australians who were unable to access mainstream credit options.
“These loans help individuals and families buy essential items and services, from refrigerators and washing machines to medical expenses and car repairs.
“The Australian Government is a strong supporter of financial counselling and management services.
“That is why we are providing $18 million to Good Shepherd to deliver microfinance and financial literacy projects.
“This is just one part of our investment of more than $486 million over four years for the Financial Management Program, which aims to build the financial resilience and wellbeing of those who need it most,” Ms Collins said.
StepUP loans range between $800 and $3,000, with a low fixed interest rate, no fees and a repayment period of up to three years. They are available to anyone who holds a Pension or Health Care Concession card.
Customers also have access to a microfinance mentor to help them develop positive habits for managing their money.
The report was commissioned by Good Shepherd Microfinance with funding support from the Australian Government. The report is available at http://goodshepherdmicrofinance.org.au/news-and-media/publications