Women's Health Goulburn North East
Women's Health Goulburn North East

57 Rowan Street, Wangaratta, 3677
Tel 03 5722 3009 | Fax 03 5722 3020
Email whealth@whealth.com.au

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What does NILS mean to a young mother? (all names have been changed)

Case Study: Debbie

Debbie, a young single mother of two, on a disability pension and working part time approached WHGNE for a NILS loan to purchase a washing machine and freezer.

At the interview, the NILS worker checked through her bank statements with her and she realised that Christmas hamper payments were still being deducted, every fortnight, even though she had cancelled them in February, five months previously.

Additionally, there was another direct debit of almost $50 a month that Debbie was unaware was being deducted and had no idea what it was for. When the NILS worker asked Debbie if she ever read her bank statements when they arrived in the mail she replied; “I just put them straight in the bin because there is never enough money anyway.” The worker and Debbie totaled up the bank fees that had accrued over the past three months and Debbie was surprised that these added up to over $50.

As a result of this interview, Debbie rang the Christmas hamper company and arranged for a reimbursement and was going to check that future payments would be stopped on her next bank statement. She spoke to the bank and discovered that the other unidentified direct debit was insurance for her car, which was a requirement of her vehicle loan. Debbie was unaware that the car was insured! She now had piece of mind knowing that it was insured. Debbie also resolved to use only ATM’s connected to her bank, to stop incurring fees.

Additionally being able to purchase a washing machine meant for Debbie that her two children were able to stay at home and not have to accompany her to the laundromat each time she did the washing. Debbie was also able to apply for the $100 White Goods Rebate from Sustainability Victoria and is eligible to participate in the NAB Adds Up matched savings plan when her loan is completed. The purchase of a freezer meant that she is able to save money each week on groceries. Win, Win, Win!!!


NILS can lead to being money savvy

For some women, applying for a NILS loan, is the first opportunity they have to address their financial situation with assistance. Many women who were previously unaware of financial counsellors go on to engage with them for extra assistance. For some, just to be alerted to their rights can be empowering and, for others, the assistance to make an initial phone call can mean addressing financial issues that may otherwise have been avoided, leading on to more serious financial stress in the future.

NILS and Family Violence

The National Council's Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-2021 argues that—because financial dependence is a major factor influencing a woman's decision to remain with an abusive partner, and because family violence is often associated with poverty and homelessness—financial independence and security are essential for leaving and staying away from an abusive partner. There is a crucial need to establish interventions which assist victims to build up their financial resources and confidence after leaving a violent relationship. NILS is one of these interventions.

What does NILS mean to a young woman fleeing family violence?

Sally’s Story

Sally, a young single woman in her thirties, had to flee the family home leaving everything behind because of family violence. The perpetrator was a close relative, not a partner, who was suffering from mental illness. Sally was being supported by a Domestic Violence service and living in transitional housing, in a rural town.

Unable to work due to the trauma of past violence, Sally applied for a NILS loan to purchase furniture for the permanent rental that she was moving into. The loan was for the purchase of a fridge, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and a couch.

Sally would not have been eligible for the standard NILS loan due to her recent move but was eligible for the WHGNE Domestic Violence NILS Program due to the fact that there is no criteria for length of residency.   Sally was also able to apply for the $100 White Goods Rebate from Sustainability Victoria for her fridge and is also able to participate in the National Australia Bank Adds Up matched savings plan once her loan is paid back.


What does NILS mean to a single mother looking for work?

Loren’s Story

Almost two years ago a single mum, Loren, came to our service seeking assistance with many issues and was very distraught. Our receptionist spent some time listening to her issues and then made several suggestions as to where to go for help including our DV NILS loans.

Loren left her partner two years earlier but he was still very controlling; both psychologically and financially abusive. He was refusing to pay child support. Loren had left her employment just before Christmas due to sexual harassment and was finding it very difficult to support herself and her teenage daughter.

Loren applied for the NILS loan to pay for her car registration and for TAFE course costs. Both of these items were needed to increase her opportunity to find employment.

She has also participated in our financial mentor program Tools for Change.

I recently rang her, she is now working, and asked if she would be happy to put something in writing about what NILS meant to her and she replied “ I’ll gladly do that. When do you want it by?”


How can NILS help a single mother to establish a career?


Early last year I begun a Pre apprenticeship course in Electro-technology at GOTAFE in Wangaratta. As my enrolment was put through I became shocked to find out that my fees were going to be far higher than I initially thought and also a result of my previous study I was not allowed to pay these off over time.

As a single mother raising two primary school aged children I did not have savings of that kind of money and I felt that all my dreams of making a secure life for my children and I had been crushed.

The TAFE did everything they could to try and help but could only guide me down different avenues for funding, this led me to NILS.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to yourself and those involved in this funding program. Without the loan I received from NILS I would never have been able to go ahead with my course. After completing my study I achieved the award for Outstanding Pre apprentice for 2013 and also have just completed the first 3 months as a First Year Apprentice Electrician.

The course I completed allowed me to show my current employer that I had the knowledge and practical skills to walk into this job confidently and already above those applicants who had not completed the Pre apprenticeship course.

I am thoroughly enjoying my Apprenticeship and I know from my study that this is definitely the right career path for me.

Once again I cannot say thank you enough. I hope others can be given the same help and opportunities that I have been given, in the future.


NILS is a hand-up. Not a hand-out. To aged pensioners NILS can mean independence and dignity in their old age.

Jenny’s Story

Jenny, an aged pension was referred to our General NILS Scheme through the Department of Housing. Jenny wished to purchase a fridge and washing machine. She was using a bar fridge and wanted to update to a bigger fridge with a freezer so as to be able to save in food costs. Jenny had always done her washing by hand but was finding it difficult to continue to do this due to the onset of arthritis and her doctor had recommended that she buy a washing machine.

Jenny was managing her finances reasonably well but was unable to afford the cost of these essential items. Jenny was also successful in her application for a WHGNE NILS Loan, she has paid this first loan back and has taken out a second loan for the purchase of a new bed and lounge chair. Both these items of furniture were given to her from a local charity and were worn out and uncomfortable.


NILS is a NO interest loan. It is not charity and it can assist in breaking the cycle of poverty for women and their children and can reduce the chances of more severe financial stress in the future.

Jo’s Story

Jo, a single mum with three children, was homeless. She attended an initial NILS enquiry meeting, with her case worker. Jo had been living in a friend’s house, who returned to town unexpectedly and had asked her to move out, leaving her with nowhere to live for the past five weeks.  Jo had just managed to secure housing and was applying for a NILS loan for a fridge and washing machine.

Whilst going through her budget the NILS worker became aware that Jo was paying $90 a fortnight for electricity but yet still had significant arrears. Jo had applied for a Utility Grant five years ago and thought it was only available to her once in a lifetime. The NILS worker was able to inform her that due to her temporary financial crisis she would most probably be eligible for this assistance. As a result of this initial NILS interview Jo linked in with a financial counsellor to access this grant.

 Additionally when looking at her expenses the NILS worker became aware that all three children required spectacles. She was paying full price for the younger children’s glasses and contact lenses for her teenage daughter, as she was unaware of the Victorian Eye Care Service. I was able to tell her about this service and she was investigating the possibility of accessing cheaper glasses for her children through this service.


Using NILS not only provides the direct benefit of being able to purchase something otherwise unattainable but also provides eligibility for the NAB Adds Up. A matched savings plan that encourages regular savings behaviour.

Joan’s Story

Joan is a mature aged woman who came into apply for her second NILS loan. Joan stated that she bought a lounge suite with the first loan and because she bought a quality item the lounge suite was “still as good as the day I bought it”.

Joan stated that without the NILS loan she could never have afforded to buy a good quality lounge suite that has lasted so well. This woman and her husband, who is on a Disability Pension, are now buying their own home (thanks to her husband’s redundancy payout). Joan wanted the second loan to replace the hot water system that had broken down. Joan has also commenced the NAB Adds Up program. At the end of twelve months she will have saved $500 and the NAB will match her savings, dollar for dollar.

Joan stated that she had referred her daughters and friends to the NILS program. (One daughter and several friends currently have NILS loans with us).


NILS provides financial education in a non-threatening manner.

Moira’s Story

Moira, a young woman with 4 children, who had recently separated, came in with utility bills to the value of $1600 and a disconnection notice she had just received. Moira was distraught and did not know what to do. Moira was hoping that a NILS loan would pay the utility bill.

Moira had an appointment with a financial counsellor but due to the waiting list this was not for several weeks. Moira had rung the energy company but they refused to deal with her as the account was in her ex-partner’s name. They stated that she needed to get him to disconnect the service and then she needed to reconnect and they could not ensure that she would be without gas and electricity for any length of time. The woman did not anticipate that the ex-partner would be cooperative and did not want to make contact with him anyway.

The NILS worker explained that the loans are not for debt but that the Energy Ombudsman may be able to assist. Moira with the assistance of the NILS worker rang the Ombudsman, who took all the details and stated that the utility company would have to contact her with some options within 7 days and that they had 21 days to resolve the issue.

The utility company complaints department rang back the following week with the news that they would follow the partner up for the debt (that Moira would not be held legally responsible for this) and that all Moira needed to do was ring the company and start a new contract in her own name and there would be no interruption of services.

This was a simple solution but without the knowledge of the existence of the Ombudsman service it had become an impossible problem for Moira and her children.


WHGNE NILS can be used for essential medical expenses.

Francis’s Story

Francis was an aged pensioner whose son had moved back to live with her after the break-up of his marriage. Francis applied for a NILS loan for cataract operations.

Francis needed an operation on each eye and was losing her sight. Francis stated that the eye specialist had informed her that if she waited for the operation to be done via the public hospital list she would have to wait for at least twelve months and by then she would have lost her sight.

She relied on her ability to drive for a number of reasons including the fact that her son, had lost his license and was relying on her to take him to and from his employment. Her loan was approved and both operations were successful.