Media Release by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Microfinance investment to help transition Australians from welfare to work

Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison today announced the Abbott Government will commit $63.4 million over five years to support three microfinance schemes to help thousands of low income Australians move off welfare and into a job or study.

Minister Morrison outlined the funding package, which will be delivered from 1 July 2015, at the national No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Conference in Sydney.

“This investment will enable the NILS, StepUP and Saver Plus programmes to continue for a further five years,” Minister Morrison said.

“These initiatives have a proven track record helping low income Australians into study or a job over the past six years and deserve the support of the government. Getting more people from welfare into work is good for families and good for our economy.

“The programmes help people gain greater control of their money and lives by providing no or low interest loans or matched savings coupled with financial literacy education.

“The funding supports around 650 NILS and StepUP sites and 60 Saver Plus sites nationally–many of which operate in regional and remote Australia.

“NILS and StepUP are delivered by Good Shepherd Microfinance in partnership with the National Australia Bank, and are excellent examples of effective community-business partnerships.

“Similarly, the matched savings scheme Saver Plus, delivered by Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, has helped more than 23,000 Australians since it was piloted in 2003.

“The Abbott Government is also delivering $4.9 million over three years to organisations which provide access to fair and affordable business loans to low income individuals and families.

“The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) initiative will enable some 1,350 people on low-incomes to start a micro-business, and around 4,500 individuals will be supported with financial literacy and business planning support.

“I was pleased to confirm the Abbott Government’s commitment to microfinance at today’s conference and discuss the array of initiatives the Government is providing to help low income Australians move away from welfare and towards financial resilience and independence.

“I congratulate the microfinance sector and its corporate partners for their hard work and dedication in making such positive changes to people’s lives,” Minister Morrison said.

For more information on the Australian Government’s microfinance initiatives, visit the Department of Social Services website.