Great Lakes NILS – No Interest Loan Scheme

NILS No Interest Loan Scheme. Good Shepherd Microfinance

What is the No Interest Loan Scheme?

Watch this short utube video for a quick overview…
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Contact us – Great Lakes NILS, your local, accredited NILS Loan Provider on 6555 4351 for further information.


NILS was developed in 1981 by the Good Shepherd Sisters and has since grown beyond Victoria to all Australian states and territories, and in 2014 to New Zealand. Since 2007, the National Australia Bank (NAB) has been providing loan capital to accredited NILS Providers, such as the Great Lakes NILS here at the Forster Neighbourhood Centre in Forster-Tuncurry.


NILS is a safe and affordable credit alternative. It is a program that provides small loans to people on low incomes without any fees, charges or interest payments during the loan process or loan cycle. Furthermore, no form of security over the NILS loan is allowed. This includes the use of the goods purchased with the loan.

The NILS loans process is based on dignity and respect, and underpinned by the Circular Community Credit model. When a borrower makes a repayment, those funds then become available for more loans in that community.

Who can apply?

There are three eligibility criteria:

CRITERIA 1: LOW INCOME – Applicant is on a low income, defined as either:

  • holding a Centrelink Health Care Card or Pension Card; or
  • earning total net income per annum (after tax):  $45,000 or under for singles, or $60,000 or under for couples or people with dependants.

Loan applicants must have lived at their current address or previous address for at least 3 months to enable them to provide a payment history through bank statements, rental statements and other household expenses, especially utilities. This can be waived in exceptional circumstances:

  • applicants in transitional housing
  • people experiencing family violence
  • state/community housing transfer
  • if someone has stayed in the area (but not address) for a long time
  • if it is difficult to obtain proof of residency (eg remote areas)

Capacity is determined by calculating a client’s ability to service the NILS loan repayments. A fortnightly budget surplus/deficit is calculated as income less expenses less the NILS loan repayment. Expenses are categorised as either fixed or discretionary.

Loan Amount

  • Up to $1,500 per person; depending on eligibility based on income and ability to repay.
  • There is no minimum loan amount.
  • The limit is extended to $2,000 for people who have experienced family violence.
  • Clients who receive only one type of benefit and are on Newstart, Youth Allowance of similar benefits, are likely to only have capacity to repay a loan of around $800. This will be assessed at the interview.
  • A client who has an active loan can apply for a second loan. The total outstanding balance of both loans must not exceed $1,500. A new loan application including a revised budget must be submitted and assessed as individual circumstances can change, such as the capacity to repay the loan. The provision of any additional loan is dependent upon the capacity of the client to repay all loans.

Loan Term

The loan term will generally not exceed 12 months, but can be up to 18 months if needed. A reduction in the loan repayment may be negotiated during the course of the loan to accommodate a change in circumstance, extending the loan term.

A loan that is for a service (eg a car registration) should have a loan repayment time frame that matches or is shorter than the length of this service, usually 12 months.

You Can Access a Loan for…


  • Air conditioner
  • Clothes dryer
  • Dishwasher
  • Entertainment
  • Freezer
  • Fridge
  • Heater
  • Hot water service*
  • Microwave
  • Stove/oven*
  • Television
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Washing machine
  • Water tank/pump*
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Course fee
  • Course material
  • Music related
  • School Uniform
  • School camp
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Baby item
  • Bed/mattress
  • Dining table
  • Lounge suite
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Dental
  • Mobility scooter
  • Orthotics / Prosthetics
  • Professional health procedure
  • Respiratory
  • Vision related
  • Wheelchair
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Computer
  • Computer accessories
  • Mobile phone
  • Tablet
  • Other (specify purpose)

  • Equipment and tools
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Barbeque
  • Bicycle
  • Lawnmower
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Blinds/curtains
  • Equipment
  • Household improvement
  • Household repair*
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Driving lesson/test
  • Registration*
  • Repairs / maintenance*
  • Tyres*
  • Windscreen*
  • Insurance excess*
  • Other (specify purpose)


  • Funeral cost
  • Relocation cost**
  • Veterinary cost
  • Other (specify purpose)

* These items require the client to be the homeowner or car owner.

** This item is for clients experiencing family violence



Bond, rent expenses, rent arrears, living expenses such as food, gas, electricity or phone bills, debt repayments and consolidation, cars, outbound international airfares, clothing, fines or penalises.

How do I apply?

Step 1

i)  Fill out the Enquiry Form on page 1 of the Information Package. You can find a link to the package documents below, or pop in to the Great Lakes Neighbourhood Services’ centre at 1 Coral Avenue, Tuncurry, to collect the package. If eligible for a loan, email or drop the completed Enquiry Form into us as soon as possible so we can start the loan process. Alternatively, you can even phone through the information and we can complete the Enquiry Form over the phone on your behalf.

ii) Make an appointment for your loan interview. Appointments are only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Phone 6555 4351 or email

The Great Lakes Neighbourhood Services’ centre is open Mon–Thu; 9.30am to 4pm (closed for lunch 12.30-1pm).

Please allow yourself enough time to collect all the information you will need for your interview appointment.

Note: you will need to return for a follow up 2nd interview if any documents are missing.

Step 2 Loan applicants are required to gather together all the documentation listed in the Document Checklist on page 3 of the Information Package (link below). Bring the documents, along with your completed Budget on page 4, with you to the interview appointment. We can help you with your Budget.

Note: you will need to return for a follow up 2nd interview if any documents are missing.

Step 3 At the interview the Loans Officer and applicant will review all the provided documentation and the loan will be processed in our system. Please note the loan will not be approved or declined at this appointment.

Step 4 Applications are assessed by the Loans Committee and we will contact you regarding the outcome.

You can download the Information Package and Application here:


NILS Process

Applicants Rights and Responsibilities

People wishing to use GL NILS have the right to expect that Forster Neighbourhood Centre will make every effort to ensure that their rights are upheld. This includes the right to:

  • Be treated fairly and with respect regardless of their personal circumstances or beliefs
  • Be informed about the schemes eligibility criteria
  • Be informed about the loan decision making processes
  • Receive the Terms and Conditions of the loan
  • Know how information about them is recorded and who will have access to their information
  • Make a complaint and have the complaint dealt with fairly and promptly without retribution
  • Access their file documents at any time

It is recommended that the NILS applicant be given a copy of their rights and responsibilities at the interview stage.


  • The applicant must act in a manner that respects the rights of other applicants and employees of the agency
  • The loan applicant is responsible for ensuring all information provided for the purposes of the loan enquiry and interview are true and correct and that no false or misleading information is given at any time.
  • It is the borrower’s responsibility to contact the agency if they are unable to make a payment.
  • Update contact details.

Watch a utube video about Marisol’s story…

For more information contact Forster Neighbourhood Services