The StepUP low interest loan program has been launched in Tasmania to help low income people escape the cycle of debt (see Senator’s Sherry’s announcement).
In Tasmania, the StepUP Program is a partnership between National Australia Bank (NAB), the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service (GSYFS) and the Tasmania NILS Network, with the assistance of The Salvation Army.
StepUP was initially launched in Melbourne in March 2004. To date, more than 6,000 financial conversations about budgeting and accessing appropriate financial products and services have taken place Australia-wide, resulting in over 1,200 loans. Step UP loans are offered from $800 up to $3,000 at a rate of 3.99% in line with recent interest rate cuts.
Loans are primarily taken out for items such as car repairs, second hand cars, solar panels, water tanks, furniture, house maintenance and repairs, medical/dental expenses, vocational education costs and airfares (refugee family reunion). Individuals are supported by community microfinance managers who help them to examine their needs, understand their financial situation, and develop the skills to use mainstream financial services.