The Morrison Government is dedicating $20 million to expand the successful No Interest Loan Scheme to help women experiencing domestic violence rebuild their lives to mark International Women’s Day.
Loans of up to $2000 will be available to help women pay for the basics such as furniture and whitegoods, car registration, bond and rental payments and debt consolidation.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said about 15,000 women each year would have access to the loans, which also provide a specialist caseworker to help them regain control of their finances and build their long-term financial independence.
“The Morrison Government is absolutely committed to addressing the scourge of domestic violence from two directions – prevention and response,” Minister Ruston said.
“Women leaving violence often face financial hardship and we hope these loans go some way to help them meet the costs of the basics as they set up a new life for themselves and their children.
“While the loans can help to cover immediate costs the caseworkers will be able to provide invaluable support as we know many women in abusive relationships have been subject to financial control.”
Good Shepherd, which administers the Scheme, purchases items or makes payments on behalf of the client rather than offering cash loans.
Good Shepherd chief executive Stella Avramopoulos said the Scheme was designed to be as practical as possible because when a woman was experiencing abuse she may not have access to her bank account or transactions may tip off a perpetrator to her location.
“Women trying to escape an abusive situation need real, practical help, for example to meet the basic costs of setting up a new home and for the wellbeing and recovery of themselves and their children,” Ms Avramopoulos said.
“These loans are for a relatively small amount, but they can make a big difference to the growing number of women we see experiencing family violence.
“Women will use these loans for the kind of expenses many families take for granted such as medical costs, school uniforms or to get the car fixed so they can get their children to appointments or get to work.”