2016 National NILS Conference

Another year, another successful National NILS Conference! Thank you to our 250 delegates who came, participated, learned and brought our Adelaide chapter to life!

Held at the iconic Adelaide Oval, the conference’s theme Partnerships for Financial Inclusion was explored through diverse opinions across workshops, keynote speeches and panels.

Fifteen workshops were held by the Good Shepherd Microfinance team and external experts, with topics focusing on financial conversations, payday lending, marketing, risk and ethics. All presentations have been uploaded onto the conference website, and can be accessed HERE.

With planning for 2017’s event already underway, we’ll be using the momentum from this year’s conference to create another engaging forum for microfinance in Australia. In the meantime, you can either read about or relive some of this year’s highlights below.

Thank you to our sponsors NAB, DSS, HESTA, The Good Guys, IAG and Suncorp for their support, our speakers and presenters for helping shape the debate, and to everyone who made it to Adelaide to take part.

Here’s to making the next event even bigger and better!

The voice of the client

The highlight of the conference came from our clients Patricia and Robin (pictured), who reminded everyone in the room why we love NILS. They told their stories with heart and spoke of the impact NILS had on their lives. For Patricia, whose life had been turned upside down by family violence, NILS meant she could afford to get her architecture qualification recognised in Australia, and led to a feeling of independence. Robin told us “he’d been around the block a few times” but had his life back on track, and that the trust shown in him by the NILS team meant the world.

Adam Mooney shaking the hand of NILS client Robin.

NILS strategy panel

Delegates heard from the five network working groups established around our strategic priorities – community-led, reach, impact, inform and strength. The passion with which these groups spoke left no doubt that they’ll play a valuable role in shaping the future of NILS. Kirsty Gilmore from the Josephite Foundation was a highlight with a speech which rallied the troops. This was followed by a Q&A session in which team members from Good Shepherd Microfinance answered questions from the floor. From funding models and organisational priorities, to what we can do for remote communities, no topic was off limits.

A new Microfinance Advisory Group made up of network members will be set up after the conference with a focus on influencing, strategic aims, investment and relationship development.

Members of NILS working groups share their insights

Network Rules

Then of course there was Network Rules. A light-hearted game where the audience was asked “if NILS was a team sport, which sport would it be and why?” Answers included curling, athletics, roller-derby and synchronised swimming. Mascot suggestions were even more creative – a swan (look graceful on top, but its legs are working hard below the surface), a sloth below (because we’re careful and considered) and a roller-skating lioness in tartan!

Peter McNamara pretends to take an AFL style mark over the top of a group sitting at a table and participating in Network Rules

NILS Awards

Congratulations to our National NILS Awards winners who have made an outstanding contribution to NILS. The 2016 winners were:

Gavan Podbury Award for Individual Excellence

  • Sharon Edwards, Shelter Housing Action Cairns
Sharon Edwards receives her award from Good Shepherd Microfinance board member Shelley Jones

Good Shepherd Sisters Award for Program Excellence

  • Toukley Neighbourhood Centre (pictured)
Toukley Neighbourhood Centre accepts its NILS Award

Life Changing Impact Award

  • Bobby Goldsmith Foundation NILS

Volunteer of the Year Award

  • NSW – Sister Cecilia Wiltshire, Macarthur NILS
  • QLD – Joan Wilson, Queensland NILS Network
  • SA – Barbara Hodgson, AnglicareSA
  • TAS – Cindy Johnson, NILS Network Tasmania
  • VIC – Milia Elzein, Moreland NILS
  • WA – Citizens Advice Bureau

Good Learning Award

  • Louise Wilde, Hunter Region NILS

At the awards ceremony, Sister Noelene White gave a moving speech which reconnected everyone with the history of NILS and made us all feel very proud.

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