In 1998, Pope John Paul II’s message for the World Day of Peace recognised that peace was threatened by numerous forms of injustice including the lack of fair access to credit. In Australia, recent statistics show that 16.9% of Australian adults are currently financially excluded and 13.1% of Australian Households are unable to raise $2,000 for an emergency.
In response to this great need, Mary MacKillop Today’s Financial Inclusion Program supports low income earners to move away from financial hardship towards stability and more meaningful economic participation. In partnership with Good Shepherd, Mary MacKillop Today offers No Interest Loan Schemes (NILS) to individuals suffering from financial exclusion and poverty in areas of rural NSW on the basis of ‘Circular Community Credit’. This is where the borrower makes a repayment that then becomes available for someone else to borrow. NILS loans are available for amounts up to $1,500 to assist people with the purchase of new essential household items, some services, medical equipment and educational equipment. There are no fees and 0.00% interest, and loans are generally repaid over a term of 12 to 18 months.
Mary MacKillop Today in partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance and the NAB also offer clients access to StepUp loans, which are a low interest loans provided by the NAB for low income earners. Loans are available for amounts of $800 to $3,000 to assist people with the purchase of second hand motor vehicles, vehicle repairs, mobility aids, new essential household items, some services, medical equipment and educational equipment.
Mary MacKillop Today has Financial Inclusion Officers based in various locations in NSW including Bathurst, Lithgow, Orange, Cowra and Young to work with clients to not only administer the loans but also help them address the underlying issues that might be affecting their financial capability, including providing service referrals, financial education and advice, and general advocacy. By addressing the underlying issues and improving people’s financial capability these clients are better able to manage their finances and therefore break the cycle of poverty.
- Applicants, once they satisfy the eligibility criteria, make appointments for phone interviews with our Financial Inclusion Officers .
- Successful applicants who meet the criteria receive NILS loans of up to $1,500 or a StepUP loan of up to $3,000, with individual payment plans set up.
- Financial Inclusion Officers work with clients to address underlying issues affecting their financial capability, including providing training in budgeting and financial literacy, referrals to other services, and advocacy.
- Hundreds of people with low incomes experiencing financial exclusion and marginalisation have access to fair and equitable credit, helping them break out of the cycle of poverty and enhance their sense of self-worth and realise their human dignity
- Individuals and their families are able to cope with household expenditures without going into economic shock.
- Individuals have moved themselves and/or their families into better education and employment opportunity circumstances.