After 13 years of providing No Interest Loans (NILS) to women who need temporary financial support, Women’s Health Goulburn North East is discontinuing its NILS program.
Good Shepherd Microfinance (GSM) and Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) have had a long association in delivering what has now become the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS). NILS has been in place at WHGNE since early 2008. Funded by GSM, the program is a direct service to women who need temporary financial support for household and general items.
WHGNE was the first women’s health service in Australia to implement a specific no-interest loan for women experiencing or exiting family violence, in addition to the general no-interest loan for women on low incomes. In fact, before this partnership, WHGNE administered the ‘hand-up’ program. Funded via our own reserves, we provided a hand-up to women who needed short-term financial support. The partnership with GSM (funded by NAB) was then established and the NILS program we have today was put in place.
So, it’s with some sadness that we announce that WHGNE will no longer be providing the No Interest Loan program. In recent years, the NILS program has expanded across Australia and there are a significantly greater number of providers now than in 2008. WHGNE has helped to shape the newly implemented central domestic violence ‘hotline’ run by GSM. The loan application requirements under this program are less stringent for women seeking assistance via this program. And very recently, the Neighbourhood House network formed a partnership with GSM and is able to refer for NILS loans. This is significant extra access to NILS loans for women in our region.
WHGNE also recognises that women who are seeking financial support often also require support in other areas of their lives. While we have been able to work with women to help them find the support they need via our funding from the Department of Health, recent cuts in funding by Good Shepherd Microfinance have made this unworkable.
We are very proud of the work that we’ve been able to undertake to advance access to funds where needed for women in our region and to see that GSM is continuing this important work.