In regional communities, having a strong support network or staying in touch with family and friends is an essential part of belonging and feeling connected.
For Aboriginal Australians, the connections to Country, family and community run deep. Family and community play an indispensable role in the shared raising of children, the preservation of cultural traditions and the ongoing connection to each other and the land.
Erica is a bright, friendly young Aboriginal woman and a devoted mother to her young son. A single mum, Erica has the solid support from her family when she needs it.
“I am the only parent and unemployed at the moment. It is hard doing all the juggling on my own but I got a family who take him all the time and help out.” said Erica.
Erica values the love and support that she gets from her family and spends a lot of her day with them, sharing time together and ensuring that her boy gets the opportunity to grow up with family and understand community. Equally important to Erica, is creating a safe and happy home as they step into the next stage in their lives. Her son recently started childcare and Erica is looking forward to finding work.
Although Erica looks forward to growing her independence, she understands the importance of staying connected with her family and her community. A recent move for Erica and her sister has meant that it is not so easy for the sisters to visit each other.
“I had just settled into the house, and walked everywhere. I live over in town, my sister has moved out of town and I needed to get a lift to get to her.” said Erica.
With distance being an issue and her son starting childcare, Erica was worried about how she could manage to get around without relying on lifts from people, or walking great distances to reach her destination. On top of that, bus fares in the area are expensive and would quickly eat up her low income. Erica’s plan was to get her car back on the road; all she needed was the funds to make it happen.
“It will be a big thing to get the car back on the road and have that freedom. Getting me and my son around will be easy, and it will keep me motivated to find work.”
Erica had spoken to her Aunty Bella about the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) she had heard about.
“She got a NILS loan a while back and recommended I get in touch with BaptistCare HopeStreet in Grafton.” Erica said.
Erica made the call straight away and was advised on how to get an application underway. She immediately recognised the name of her local BaptistCare HopeStreet NILS Client Coordinator, Keira Ellingwood, from her school days and made the appointment.
“Having known Keira made it easier to communicate. The loan process worked out perfect, Keira was keeping in contact with me throughout. She explained everything and was really helpful. Her knowledge of a NILS loans is really good. She made it easy to understand and explained it all in black and white,” shared Erica.
Unlike other members of her family and broader community on low incomes, Erica never considered looking anywhere else for the finance to register her car.
“Once I learnt about NILS I knew that’s what I wanted to do. My Dad, he goes for loans with extra fees and interest. I tell him that he needs to get onto the NILS. I am telling everyone about NILS loans!”
For Erica, getting access to affordable finance through the No Interest Loan Scheme was a no brainer.
“Take the stress and struggle off paying a loan with interest. For anyone wanting to get electronics, a car, or any of the other stuff a NILS loan can give you money for, I tell them ‘you’re losing if you go anywhere else!’“ Erica said.
Erica is the new champion of affordable finance through NILS.