Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Additional Funding to Expand Interest Free Loans Scheme

At the annual No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) Forum in Melbourne today the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced extra funding of $50 000 to employ a National Co-ordinator who would work with the 75 NILS providers across Australia.

Senator Patterson said NILS providers make an important contribution in assisting Australians on low incomes to access affordable credit and financial advice and this extra funding is good news for NILS organisations operating throughout Australia and their customers.

“Having a National Co-ordinator will assist community organisations that deliver NILS to share ideas and resources, and will help to support their growth and development,” Senator Patterson said.

“The funding for a National Co-ordinator is in addition to the $180 000 the Australian Government has committed to the NILS Centrepay fee-waiver for the next 12 months.

“NILS organisations provide no interest loans to Australians with low incomes for essential household goods, such as washing machines, fridges or furniture, with most loans ranging from $500 to $1 000 repaid over eight to 15 months.”

Since 2001, the Australian Government has provided funding to cover the Centrepay transaction fees for NILS providers, allowing these organisations to offer Centrepay as a repayment option to their customers.

Senator Patterson said the scheme has helped thousands of Australians buy important items that they would not have normally been able to purchase.

“As a result these customers gain a real sense of achievement when they are able to repay these loans,” Senator Patterson said.

“This funding further demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to assisting community groups to build strong partnerships for the future.

“The NILS program has a real opportunity to expand and to develop over the next 12 months and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow and help more customers.”