Muru Mittigar’s Community Finance Hub reached a milestone last week, providing more than $1 million in no interest loans to financially disadvantaged members of the Penrith community.
The organisation has been providing the loans since 2010 in partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance, a Melbourne-based organisation that started the NILS program 35 years ago.
Muru Mittigar is a Darug-owned and governed social enterprise which seeks to advance the social and economic capacity of Aboriginal people and communities in Sydney’s west and beyond.
“Muru Mittigar is proud to have reached this milestone,” said Muru Mittigar chief executive Peter Chia. “The No Interest Loan Scheme has assisted nearly 1,000 local Penrith families to purchase brand new, everyday items such as fridges, washing machines, beds and TVs, something that many of these families would have been unable to get if it wasn’t for NILS.
“Another benefit of the program is ‘essential purchase of goods’, helping the local Penrith business community with responsible trade and purchases at a local Penrith business level.”
Individuals can borrow between $300 and $1,200 and only pay back the amount they borrow over a 12 month period, without paying interest or fees.
The fortnightly repayment for a $1,200 loan is approximately $47 and can be deducted from a client’s Centrelink payment. Loans cannot be for cash or used to pay fines, debts, rent or bills.
NILS is just one of the many services available at the Community Finance Hub. Other services include an Indigenous money mentor program, financial counselling, financial literacy awareness programs, low cost car and home contents insurance and assistance with energy accounts.
The culturally-important aspect of Muru’s service is local, qualified professionals of Aboriginal background helping other less-fortunate people in the community who find themselves in financial difficulty, due to too-common issues such as domestic violence, provision of unethical or inappropriate high interest loans from past lenders, and other factors beyond their control.
Mr Chia also acknowledged the support provided by NSW Fair Trading, the Department of Social Services and NAB.
“Without the funding support of the NSW and federal governments and corporate supporters like NAB, Muru Mittigar would not be able to operate the Community Finance Hub and provide these essential services to those doing it tough in the local Penrith community,” he said.
“We also acknowledge growing network of our partner community groups and agencies who refer families in need to our organisation across Sydney’s west”.