MoneySmart is an initiative of the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). The website assists people with managing their money and finances by offering tips & tools to help you make the most of your money.
What Is NILS?
The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit.
Loan amounts are between $300 – $1,200 for essential goods and services such as fridges, washing machines and medical procedures.
Loans cannot be used for cash, bond, rent arrears, debt consolidation, holidays or bills. Repayments are set up at an affordable amount over 12 – 18 months.
WHAT ARE THE LOANS FOR?
Loans are avaibable for the purchase of essential goods and services.
These may include
Household items like fridges, washing machines, stoves, dryers, freezers and furniture Some medical and dental services
Education essentials such as computers and text books
Some other item as requested
DO I QUALIFY FOR NILS?
To qualify you must:
Have a health care card/pension card
Reside in your current premises for more than 3 months Show a willingness and capacity to repay loan
If you hold a Federal Government Concession Card you may be eligible for a reduced rate on stamps and other services. You can get 5 free stamps and 50 reduced cost stamps per year and discount on mail hold and redirection services.
For South Australians needing advice or assistance with managing the cost of living or budgeting. The Helpline provides information, advice and referrals to appropriate services such as financial counselling, case work, advocacy or community education.
The Helpline Service is available from Monday to Thursdays between the hours of 9.30am and 8pm and Fridays 9.30am and 4.30pm (except Public Holidays).
To access information, support, or referrals, call the Helpline on the number provided.
The Utilities Literacy Program aims to reduce financial hardship associated with utilities related to cost of living pressures. The program has 3 strategies: community education, financial counselling services and up skilling the community sector workforce.
Community Education - faciliated by Uniting Communities & UnitingCare Wesley Country SA. Providing community based education to assist community members to gain information about utilities debt and usage. These sessions provide information about concessions, payment plans, reading & understanding energy bills & contracts, how much appliances cost to run & energy efficiency strategies for managing energy consumption. In addition, participants learn about accessing other programs that can support them, including No Interest Loans for new energy efficient appliances, financial counsellors, Energy Saver Program and more. Participants are encouraged to bring along their bills so that they can receive assistance on the day. Check the events calendar for an Energy Expo near you!
Financial Counselling Services - These services are provided by The Salvation Army. Qualified Financial Counsellors located across the state are motivated to support and assist people in financial difficulty through an appointment based service. The team will work with people on a personal level to help address underlying issues that are impacting on individuals and their families. No matter how simple or complex the situation, the team can provide information, options, advise of rights and responsibilities, and strategies to manage their financial situation, especially the utility bills! The Financial Counsellors can provide advocacy services, negotiate with creditors, explain and provide information in a way that will increase the clients understanding, knowledge and most importantly keep them informed, supported and in control of the decision making processes. Financial Counsellors can also be accessed through the Utility Literacy Helpline Service from Monday to Thursdays between the hours of 9.30am and 8pm and Fridays 9.30am and 4.30pm (except Public Holidays). To access information, support, referrals, or an appointment, call the Utility Literacy Helpline on the number provided.
Workforce Upskilling - Through 2014 and 2015, UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) will present 2-day training workshops, tailored for those people who support financially vulnerable members of the community - such as Community Workers, Emergency Relief Workers, and workers with CALD and Aboriginal communities. Workshops will be presented across the state. On completion, workshop graduates will be much better able to help their clients to take control of their energy and water expenses. They will be better equipped to spot billing errors, and to offer advice to clients about the likely causes of large bills. Graduates will be supported by the program to mid-2016, so that they can create Utilities Power Points, confidently providing assistance and advice to those who struggle to afford electricity, gas and water bills. Contact Heather Merran at UCWB on 08 8245 7175 for the latest on this initiative.
The Utilities Literacy Program is funded by the SA Government.
A Financial Counsellor is a person who can assist you with a range of services relating to personal finances. It is free, independent and confidential.
A Financial Counsellor can look at your overall financial situation and provide you with your options and are able to advocate and negotiate on your behalf.
A financial Counsellor doesn't give financial advice, planning or financial assistance.
In South Australia the financial Counselling service is operated by a range of service providers that have qualified Financial Counsellors who are motivated to supporting and assisting people in financial difficulty through an appointment based service (see locations below for providers). They are part of the National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 and can arrange for a face to face meeting in a location near you or a phone meeting with an experienced trained counsellor.
The Helpline Service is available from Monday to Thursday between the hours of 9.30am - 8pm and Fridays 9.30am - 4.30pm (closed public holidays).
Alternatively many of the agencies can be contacted directly through their local related locations listed below. Appointments are essential.
A Financial Counsellor can also provide information and assistance about:
- Financial rights and responsibilities
- Budgeting and money management
- Negotiating with creditors and others
- Debts and the debt recovery processes
- Insolvency and bankruptcy options
- Hardship applications if your situation has changed.
Qualified financial counsellors will help you:
- Ensure you are receiving all your concessions and entitlements
- Manage your money
- Deal with a summons
- Prioritise bills and debts
- Deal with debt issues
- Negotiate with creditors
- Work out a budget or a payment plan
- By referring you to agencies who can help you make informed choices.
StepUP provides low interest loans to people on low incomes through community providers across many parts of Australia.
StepUp offers loans of between $800 and $3000 for personal or houseold purposes such as:
- Household itmes including fridges, washing machines and furniture.
- Medical and Dental expenses
- House repairs
- Car repairs
Interest is charged at a fixed low rate, and loans can be repaid over three years. No fees apply.
People who have recently experienced the death of a family member and who cannot raise the funds, after all options have been tried, may be eligible to receive a basic funeral and related expenses through the Funeral Assistance Program.
People unable to raise funds, who are on a Centrelink benefit or have a low income, may be able to receive assistance with a basic funeral. This is normally a cremation service, except in certain cultural circumstances. If the cultural requirements for a burial are not agreed, families may elect to pay the difference between a cremation and a burial.
To help with the general cost of living a new state government concession is available to eligible South Australians on low or fixed incomes.
The Cost of Living Concession enables you to put the benefit towards your greatest needs, whether that is electricity, gas and water bills or council rates.
The Cost of Living Concession is payable as a maximum amount per household. You may be eligible for the Cost of Living Concession, for your principal place of residence, if this was your principal place of residence on 1 July of the relevant financial year
On 1 July of the relevant financial year you held one of the following cards:
- A Pensioner Concession Card
- Gold Card from the Department of Veterans' Affairs ◦Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI)
- Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA)
- War Widow
- Gold Card from the Department of Veterans' Affairs issued to a person with 80 or more overall impairment points under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
- Low Income Health Care Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- State Concession Card
On 1 July of the relevant financial year you received one of the following eligible Centrelink payments:
- Newstart allowance
- Sickness allowance
- Widow allowance
- Youth allowance
- Partner allowance
- Parenting Payment Partnered
- Bereavement allowance
- Special benefit
- Community Development Employment Project (CDEP)
- New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
- You can demonstrate that on 1 July of the relevant financial year you meet low income provisions in the low income earners category.