GETTING a low-interest car loan has made a world of difference to Fatme Ibrahim.

Newly arrived from Lebanon, the unemployed single mother of children aged four, eight and nine had been knocked back for personal loans from three banks.

“Last year I was in a lost mood. Without a car, I couldn’t go anywhere without waiting for a train or a bus. I had appointments everywhere — for the bank, the school, the doctors, Centrelink. You can’t just keep asking other people to take you places.”

She recently applied for a $3000 Step-up car loan from Dandenong Community Advisory Bureau, which is similar to what’s offered at the new state government backed Good Money shopfront in Dandenong. She paid about $100 interest. The freedom since has been liberating.

SEE ALSO Cheaper lending for disadvantaged comes to Dandenong.

Ms Ibrahim says she feels more confident about applying for part-time work, now that she has swift personal transport to get from workplaces to her children’s school.

“I know lots of people on Centrelink who don’t know about these loans. I know people who have gone to [a fringe lender] and if they don’t pay on time, they have to pay high interest. They should advertise these low-interest loans more.”

Manager Jinny McGrath said the bureau received more than 3100 inquiries about the loans in the 2011-12 financial year. Of those, 136 successfully applied for loans totalling $392,000.

“One could surmise that a large proportion of those who inquired would want money to pay off debts [which these loans do not cover] or may have debts of more than $500 and thus not be eligible,” she said. 

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