Jenny Elvey started delivering No Interest Loans to the community in the greater Bendigo area when she founded Bendigo Family & Financial Services in 2007. After building her team and their skills as a financial counselling service, Jenny opened a second site in Shepparton in 2014. Growth continues every year and Jenny opened a third site In Cobram in August 2023. In total, the group supported over 1500 people with a NILs loan in FY ’22-23.
“Volunteers have always played a crucial role not only in helping to process NILs loans but listening to the needs of our community. We have had to expand our team to include more trained and paid professionals.”
Over time Jenny has seen the NILs program grow organically in her community. “There is no other program like it. It’s been lovely to see that the information around NILs loans in our community has been passed down within families and in the wider community. It’s a good experience for them to come and get a loan from us, then they tell others.”
The positive feedback from clients continues to motivate Jenny and her team. “It’s important that the full team get to hear the appreciation from the clients. It helps us continue to do the job we are doing.”
When Edi’s washing machine broke down unexpectedly, she reached out to our NILs community partner at the Salvation Army, who suggested she apply for a No Interest Loan. Edi said the NILs application process was dignified and didn’t make her feel like a “science experience because she was a low income earner”.
“I got a beautiful new fridge and washing machine which gave me this automatic feeling like I was like everyone else – like a normal person”.
Proud First Nations woman, Eunice Bartlett desperately needed a loan to have her car repaired. Eunice was referred to Good Money in Salisbury by NAB. She loved the process so much she plans to come out of retirement to help connect her community to NILS.
“NILs has made a big different in my life, and I am keen to connect my community to the program. I feel so happy!”.
Heather* came to FIH after coming out of an abuse relationship that continued to have an impact on her and her two children, years after it ended. Since her time with FIH, Heather has regained a perfect credit score, created two start-up companies, gained full-time employment, and has bought a forever home for her and her children.
“There is a silver lining to trauma. Victims find immense strength in the community who just get it. Through their professionalism, empathy, validation, calmness, humour and urgency, Good Shepherd has alleviated my pain and given me the strength to rebuild”.
After coming through Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, Leah* came to Good Shepherd’s Refuge and has been amazed at her own transformation.
“I have been connected to First Nations organisations and with a Financial Advisor. Because every partner I’ve ever had controlled my money, I am learning how to control my money and pay off my debts. I even have “me money” to buy a candle or hair dye if I want it.”
20-year-old Melanie*, was first referred to Good Shepherd when she was four weeks pregnant and at risk of being evicted due to rental arrears. Melanie* revealed that her ex-partner had been violent and that she feared for her life After her apartment was sadly broken into, Melanie had to flee to emergency accommodation. Good Shepherd provided material aide and support during her stay. We applied for family violence funding and advocated for security cameras to be set up and locks to be changed. Excitingly Melanie* gave birth to a healthy baby in May and is now connected to Caroline Chisholm for a range of parenting supports.
The future looks a lot brighter for Melanie. She is now an aspiring Social Worker and we couldn’t be prouder of her progress.
From a young age, Tom* lacked a stable figure in his life and suffered developmental trauma and physical and emotional neglect. He was often exposed to his biological mother’s drug and alcohol abuse, and to her periodic incarcerations. Despite these challenges, Tom engaged well at primary school and was well-liked by his peers and teachers. As he approached Grade 4, concerning signs started to emerge whereby he would become extremely angry and upset when triggered. As he was experiencing trouble regulating his emotions, Tom was eager to participate in the School Focused Youth Service program, enjoying a therapeutic space, being creative and sharing.
Tom now likes using his journal and art pack when he’s heightened and needs some alone time.