Breaking language barriers for no interest loans

Breaking language barriers for no interest loans

Problem-solving challenges like distance and language barriers to provide remote Aboriginal communities with access to the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) has been made easy through Money Mob Talkabout.

Money Mob Talkabout is a community-based program delivering financial counselling and financial literacy education with and for people in remote Indigenous communities to help them positively manage their money.

NILS Officer, Zeni Ferntree and the team drive up to nine hours in the Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands located in the northwestern tip of South Australia to make NILS available to the communities where the median income is more than 50 per cent lower than the broader population. According to 2011 Census data, in APY lands, the median individual weekly income is $277 per week compared to $577 per week nationwide.

“Due to the remoteness of the area, everyday living expenses like food and whitegoods are very expensive and the choice is limited,” Zeni said.

“Also, for most people, English is at best a second language and while Anangu people may be able to speak it, some cannot read it,” Zeni added.

Identifying that being able to read important documents like NILS documentation was a challenge, the team at Money Mob Talkabout came up with a new way for people to understand the documents before signing.

“To make it easier for community members to understand what they are signing, Roseanna, a local Anangu woman and Money Mob Talkabout team member, has translated the budget declaration and Centrelink Statement Consent into audio files and is working on translating the NILS loan agreement,” Zeni said.

“With the help of Roseanna, we have been able to drastically improve the formal part of the NILS loan process with clients.”

“Now I’m confident that Anangu people know what they are signing because I hear a lot of stories about people signing up for contracts like rent-to-own agreements and not understanding the high cost associated with it.”

“I’ve seen first-hand the damage those rent-to-own agreements can do to a family. Sometimes there’s not enough money left to buy food or pay bills.”

Zeni has also had the NILS posters translated and they are placed in public areas next to the dates when she will next be in town.

“I can see up to six people a fortnight in APY lands and on average, six NILS loans of up to $1,500 for essential items are approved per month,” Zeni said proudly.

NILS, a better alternative to rent-to-buy agreements or payday loans is available to people on low incomes Australia-wide.

Good Shepherd Microfinance is the provider of the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), a safe, fair and affordable loan option.

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