Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

Next open date for applications is 23.05.2017 View Grant Dates

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Case Study: Bendigo Family & Financial Services

ProjectDebt Consolidation and Financial Management Program

Amount$70,170 over three years

Date2014

ProgramCommunity

TRUST OBJECTIVES    PROJECT OBJECTIVES
This grant was approved under our past program area of Regional Resilience (Jan 2014 – March 2017) and is a good example for our new program area of Community
Rural and regional Victoria Assist people in the Loddon Mallee District at risk of financial and social exclusion to manage their money, overcome financial adversity, and plan for their future
Reducing inequality Strengthen people’s financial independence, giving them the chance to more fully participate in the social, cultural and economic life of their community with greater access to resources and opportunities
Collaboration and partnership Good Shepherd Microfinance, Anglicare Bendigo, Bendigo Welfare Agency Group, Department of Justice, Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre

Empowering people to develop financial literacy and independence

With a core mission to help break the cycles of material aid and generational poverty, Bendigo Family and Financial Services is building financial literacy and resilience among those most at risk of financial exclusion and disadvantage. The basic philosophy of the Scheme is to provide low-income earners with access to safe and affordable credit without the burden of fees and interest charges.

Bendigo Family & Financial Services’ (BFFS) Debt Consolidation Scheme addresses the immediate needs of clients in times of financial crisis. Clients are usually experiencing difficult life situations, frequently incurring unintended debt and profoundly affecting their quality of life. They may have become ill and forced to leave work; experience family violence; be aged and lose their job; or their partner has died, leaving joint debt or financial obligations on one income.

Snapshot:

  • The Scheme fosters improved use and management of money, assists with asset building and provide debt consolidation assistance with a no-interest loan.
  • The loan scheme works through a process of circular community credit. When a debt is repaid, funds are then available for someone else in the community. Loans are between $800 to $5,000 payable over a three-year timeframe.
  • Not all clients receive a loan. Counsellors work with clients to achieve the best outcome for their situation. The loan may be written off; no interest payments negotiated for life of the loan; debt wiped in full; or negotiation of pay out figures with much less but achievable repayments.
  • Participants in the program work with qualified financial and educational counsellors.
  • On average, BFFS helps 60 people each year with financial management and education, giving them the skills and knowledge to get off the merry-go-round of debt and become financially self-reliant.
  • Clients are referred through the organisation’s Financial Counselling service and external agencies

www.bendigofamilyandfinancialservices.org

"I had no idea that there was a service like this whereby they would negotiate a settlement figure on your behalf and then pay it out. At last I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I would be able to pay off the debt." BFFS client