Saying goodbye with an important cultural ritual – a unique use for a no interest loan

Saying goodbye with an important cultural ritual – a unique use for a no interest loan

The No Interest Loan Scheme provides small loans to pay for essential goods and services. But rather than dictate what is and isn’t ‘essential’, local loan providers listen to the needs of their local community and allow local residents to shape the program. This has never been more evident than in a recent loan provided by Western Cape NILS in Weipa, Far North Queensland where, for the first time, a NILS loan is being used to pay for a cultural ritual.

Edwina’s partner passed away last year. He was from the Torres Strait Islands, and she is both Aboriginal and a Torres Strait Island woman. The tombstone ceremony is a significant event for both their cultures.

The ceremony, which takes place 12 to 18 months after someone has passed away, involves wrapping their tombstone in cloths before it is unveiled for family and friends – each person keeping a piece of the cloth used to wrap the tombstone.

This ceremony also includes a feast of local foods including damper, turtle, crayfish and fish. Some items from the super market, others right from the sea.

For Edwina the tombstone ceremony is an important part of farewelling her partner and celebrating his life, but it is also a significant expense that she says will cost “an arm and a leg”. As a careful budgeter, Edwina considered her options and decided that NILS would be an affordable way to pay for the ceremony, and that she would be easily able to manage repayments.

The team at Western Cape NILS said it was “great to be able to support someone to achieve something so personal as a tombstone opening for a family member who has died.”

Western Cape NILS is one of 263 providers offering the NILS loans from 636 locations across Australia. To find out more about the No Interest Loan Scheme and to find your local provider, head to or call 13 64 57.

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