MercyCare’s Mercy Lending Services Program was selected to be one of three Western Australian referral partners in the nation-wide pilot. Part of the Good Shepherd Microfinance’s Federally funded expansion of the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS), the pilot was designed to provide safe, affordable loans up to $2000 to victims of domestic and family violence.
The three-month pilot, ending October 2020, was aimed at filling gaps of other grants, enabling female survivors to seek NILS loans for items or services such a moving costs; education or training; preparation for work; car registration and repairs; furniture and whitegoods; bond and rent; laptop or phone; medical and dental; utility bills; legal costs and more.
“The aim of this pilot is to make it simpler for women to access and apply for these loans. This money can provide them with the financial means to escape domestic and family violence and start rebuilding their lives,” MercyCare Community, Family and Children Services Executive Director David Holden said.
“Money is often a big hurdle to overcome in order to leave or stay safe in an abusive relationship. Women may not have access to bank accounts, their own income or savings, are being financially controlled, or have had their partner’s debts put onto them.
“These loans offer fast access to that money without being saddled with unrealistic repayment terms and conditions.”
The loans are available to women 18 years and older who have experienced family or domestic violence in the past 10 years, are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or hold a visa that expires beyond the loan term and have a source of income enabling them to repay the loan. Loans can be repaid over 18 to 24 months.
Throughout the pilot MercyCare has worked as a referrer, supporting women to access the loans. All loan interviews are conducted in a highly sensitive, strengths based and trauma informed manner.
Referrals have operated out of MercyCare’s Mirrabooka office which offers Multicultural support services including Status Resolution Support Services, Settlement Services and Mercy Lending services.