Australia: Financial Inclusion Program - Mary MacKillop Today

Australia: Financial Inclusion Program

Project Overview

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 $2,000 for essentials such as appliances or furniture, to help you get your car back on the road, pay for education fees and equipment or help you cover the cost of goods and services to support your wellbeing or borrow up to $3,000 for housing related expenses such as bond or rent in advance, or for recovery from a natural disaster. There are no fees and 0.00% interest, and loans are generally repaid over a term of up to 24 months.

Mary MacKillop Today has Financial Inclusion Officers based in various locations in NSW including Bathurst, Lithgow, Orange, Cowra, Young, Condobolin, Mudgee, Kandos, Blue Mountains and Penrith Region 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 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 face to face or phone interviews with our Financial Inclusion Officers
  • Successful applicants who meet the criteria receive NILS loans of up to $2,000 or $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.

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