Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

No-interest loans scheme expands into regional and remote Australia

An Australian Government-backed affordable loans scheme which enables people under financial pressure to buy household essentials will be expanded into six regional and remote communities across the nation.

The Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, today announced an expansion of the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) in and around Darwin, the Kimberley, Alice Springs, the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands, Rockhampton, Mt Isa and Cairns.

“Many families and individuals across Australia are struggling financially due to mortgage stress, credit card debt and cost of living pressures, and this is just as true in regional and remote communities as it is in our metropolitan areas,” Ms Collins said.

“NILS is a highly successful program that assists low-income families to buy household necessities so they don’t have to access high-cost alternative credit.
“This expansion of NILS will ensure people living in these regional and remote areas, and particularly Indigenous Australians, will also be able to benefit from the scheme.

“The microfinance scheme is run by the Good Shepherd Microfinance with funding from the Australian Government and NAB, in partnership with a range of organisations that deliver the scheme in local communities.

“NILS is making a difference to the lives of financially vulnerable people, helping families to buy much-needed household items such as fridges, washing machines and beds.

“In 2012, the total value of loans to low-income Australians under the NILS program was $18.1 million, a $5 million increase on the previous year.

“The scheme fills a gap for vulnerable Australians who are able to repay a loan but are excluded from borrowing from mainstream banks and credit providers because of low incomes or poor credit history.

“It ensures vulnerable Australians have appropriate options for affordable access to credit.

“The repayment period for NILS loans is between 12 to 18 months at zero per cent, which reduces financial stress on households.

“The Australian Government is committed to supporting vulnerable Australians to be financially and socially included in the community.

“We have invested $18 million over three years in microfinance initiatives, including NILS, and a further $486 million over four years in the Financial Management Program, which assist people to better manage their money, participate in their communities and plan for their future.

“NILS is the result of a successful partnership between Good Shepherd Microfinance, the Australian Government, and NAB which highlights the benefits of business, government and the community sector working together to deliver financial support to vulnerable Australians,” Ms Collins said.