A program helping low-income families access vehicles will be offered for another year after demand for the scheme soared more than 30 per cent.
The federal government announced it would invest another $500,000 in the pilot program run by Good Shepherd Australia to fund no-interest car loans.
The scheme, which operates as an alternative to high-interest and high-risk financial products, delivers four-year loans to motorists on low incomes, those with health or pension cards, and domestic or family violence victims.
The loans of up to $5000 can go towards cars, mobility scooters, motorcycles or fees associated with keeping vehicles on the road.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the additional funding was designed to help more Australians get to work, access medical care or “undertake caring responsibilities”.
“We know vehicles and other related costs such as registration are expensive and not every region has public transport readily available – that’s why (no-interest loans) for vehicles is so important to assist those who need it,” she said.
“The no-fee, no-interest loans provide a vital boost to help get people on the road and undertake activities that contribute to their wellbeing.”
Demand for the zero-interest loans increased by 33 per cent over the last financial year.
Good Shepherd Australia chief executive Stella Avramopoulos said the pilot proved there was a strong and obvious need to provide greater financial assistance for some families.
“A vehicle represents so much more than just a mode of transport,” she said.
“It enables our clients to pick up their kids from school, drive to their jobs and to live their lives.”
The program, which has been operating since September 2021, has provided more than 5000 car loans.
Motorists can apply for the loans through 600 No Interest Loan providers in Australia and could be eligible if they earn less than $70,000 as an individual or $100,000 as a household, have experienced family or domestic violence in the last 10 years, or hold a health or pension card.
Demand for no-interest loans is currently so high application processing is delayed by up to four weeks.
(Australian Associated Press)