“NILS opens a door for people on low incomes” – NILS worker Leonie shares her story

“NILS opens a door for people on low incomes” – NILS worker Leonie shares her story

Leonie was successfully running her own business before a decision out of her control took it away suddenly. She started working at Salisbury Community Organisation Against Poverty while re-building her business and found NILS could be part of re-building lives.

I had an Aboriginal client who moved from a remote region on the border of South Australia to metropolitan Adelaide. She moved because she couldn’t see a future for her children there. She had real concerns about them falling into the cycle of alcohol and drugs and wanted to do something to stop it. She was very proud of her children and she had a really warm, comforting nature, but you could tell that she’d done it really tough and it was a huge thing for her to go miles away from her family.

She was referred to us by the Salvation Army for a NILS loan. She had excellent budgeting skills, and all her paperwork ticked all the boxes. The washing machine was delivered and she was very happy with the process.

She called about two months later to update her contact details. She had to leave her house because of domestic violence and she was now living in a shelter with her children.

She called again to say she was ok and that she’d worked out she could afford to increase her loan payments, she wanted to get her loan paid back as soon as she could. I found it really admirable of her to be so diligent in paying back, I think she was so grateful for the help and to be heard. Through all her troubles she didn’t miss a payment.

Of course family violence affects all demographics. We had another client recently, a young girl in her mid-twenties. She had been holding down two jobs leading a very ‘normal’ lifestyle living with her partner and the violence seemed to happen quite suddenly. She was so badly beaten she was hospitalised for months. She had suffered extensive brain damage and was left permanently disabled. Her mother said she was lucky to be alive.

A domestic violence organisation was able to set her up in a unit of her own, but it was completely empty. After the incident her family couldn’t get access to any of her things, so her mother called us to see if we could help. The young girl came to the interview determined to go through the process herself. It took a great amount of time and effort on her behalf, you could see the frustration within her, but she did it.

There were no problems with the loan, she had no debts but obviously she couldn’t supply us with all the necessary documents because she had literally lost everything. In family violence situations we are able to make exemptions and alterations to the loan process if necessary – which is what we did in this case.

Her determination to be independent again and to start her new life was so inspiring. This case made me realise that every day brings you something different, you just never know what you’ll be presented with.

There’s a lot of ignorance around poverty in this country and South Australia has one of the highest rates of unemployment. NILS opens a door for people on low incomes and gives them safe access to funds to help themselves. There are so many parts of my job that I love, but that’s the best bit and that’s what I try and do every day.

There are nine dedicated family violence providers across NSW, QLD and VIC in the NILS network.

No INterest Loan Scheme client Leonie at the door of her program

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No Interest Loans (NILS) Coronavirus Relief

No Interest Loans and financial information for anyone adversely impacted by the Coronavirus will be made available soon. These loans of up to $1500 or more will provide financial relief for household products and bills with a payment period of 18 months. However, anyone needing immediate assistance can apply for a NILS loan through our existing program, although this loan has narrower criteria and is not for bills. For further information about a NILS loan, please call us on 1300 770 550.