Research Reports and Evaluations - Page 32

followed up if payments are not being made. The longer-term viability of microfinance programs rests on the capacity of borrowers to repay the loans. However, it is recognised within the program that there will be a proportion of the funds that will not be repaid and clear procedures need to be established for how funds are to be recovered and in what instances loans can be ‘written off’. The use of Centrelink direct debit provides some assurance of the longer-term viability and has been effective for minimising defaults. However, given the social objectives of the program, repayment also needs to be balanced against the prevention of additional hardship and pending homelessness. While the service data presented in section 4 indicated that most clients were keeping up with their repayment schedule or had managed to repay their loan, the case study of Sue below shows that despite the efforts of staff, not all clients are prepared to engage in the support process and honour their repayment commitments. The case study indicates the critical importance of the initial assessment process in determining eligibility and being able to continue to locate clients over time. Sue 11 contacts Sue had been issued a notice to vacate her property when she presented to our service. She had been accepted into another property however did not have the funds for rent in advance. She was receiving Centrelink benefits and was also self-employed as a beautician and although was not currently working had been offered a job by a friend that she could begin in a few months time. Sue was not eligible for a bond loan due to being self-employed and not completing her tax return last year. She had also tried to access other housing services for assistance with the rent in advance and was unsuccessful. She paid the bond with her savings and then was left with no options for her rent in advance which was $867. Following an assessment, it was decided that Sue would be assisted by WCC given her imminent risk of homelessness. Despite initial engagement, Sue did not make the first scheduled payment. Contact was difficult to make with Sue and on the occasion that contact was successful she advised that she was going through a stressful time and not managing well. Even though we offered support, including outreach, this was not successful and no further contact was made with Sue and no payments of the loan have been made. 25