Domestic Violence Victims Offered Lifesaving Loans
21 November 2018 at 5:30 pm
A charity-run interest free loan program, helping women fleeing family violence get back on their feet, has welcomed a $14.9 million boost from the federal government, which will see an additional 45,000 women gain access to the scheme.
Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, announced the boost for the No Interest Loan Programs (NILS) on Tuesday as part of a financial plan to help women escape abusive environments.
The scheme, operated by Good Shepherd Microfinance (GSM), provides small loans of up to $2,000 to help buy items such as washing machines, school uniforms and cover medical bills.
O’Dwyer said the loans would help ensure women could access funding to support them and their families when they needed it most.
“Many women never recover from the financial setback of establishing a new home, and for many more women the daunting costs can discourage them from leaving an abusive relationship,” O’Dwyer said.
Mother of three, Donna Cleeland, was pregnant when her abusive husband left her with no money, no job or access to their bank accounts.
“I had to figure out how to survive on my own,” Cleeland said.
She used her first NILS loan to cover items most wouldn’t need a loan for, such as buying a washing machine, and paying for car repairs.
But Cleeland said getting the loan was a godsend, and she has now used it several times while she recovered from her financial instability.
“I feel so grateful there’s something like NILS available for people like me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to provide for my children,” she said.
Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO Peter McNamara said with 90 per cent of family violence cases also involving financial abuse, it was vital these small loans were available to more women.
“For many, it’s a big reason why they can’t leave an abusive relationship. Women who want to leave a violent partner are often put off by the expense of finding somewhere safe to live,” McNamara said.
He said the funding would also allow GSM to train 30 more specialist NILS workers and expand the network of community groups providing no interest loans.
There are currently 160 community partners which offer NILS at over 600 locations around the country.
If you are experience problems with domestic or family violence, contact 1800 RESPECT