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Irresponsible lending from increasingly
persuasive Internet payday lenders is
pushing already vulnerable people into
greater poverty, says the Adelaide-based
leaders of the National Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council
NATISCC deputy chairman John
Lochowiak and national administrator
Craig Arthur last month issued a warning
for people to stay away from online payday
lenders and instead seek out financial
assistance through other options, including
budgeting services and welfare groups.
Mr Lochowiak said more and more people
were seeking food and other support
from the Adelaide Catholic Aboriginal
Ministry’s Otherway Centre, in Stepney,
because they were caught in a cycle of
debt through payday loans. Mr Lochowiak
is also chairman of the diocesan Aboriginal
Catholic Advisory Council.
He said people were applying for online
loans for basic items like shoes and
clothing for children, and paying utility,
education and medical bills. He said they
often got caught out by the high interest
rates and hidden fees.
“They are just desperate,” he said,
adding that payday loans were affecting
Indigenous and non-Indigenous members
of the community and was a nation-wide
issue raised by NATSICC at a meeting
earlier this year.
Mr Arthur said some people had to take
out new loans to pay back old ones, while
others were pawning sentimental family
heirlooms and jewellery and then were
unable to make the inflated repayments.
“The increasing cost of living means
more and more disadvantaged people –
the unemployed, single parents and the
disabled – are seeking out short term loans
and regularly pawning items,” he said.
“The rapid rise of net-based lenders has
meant it’s easier and faster to get loans
now more than ever before,” he said.
A quick search on the Internet can secure
short term loans ranging from $100-
$2000 “to get you through those annoying
expenses until your next pay day”. The
online process can be completed within
minutes and the cash received within
the hour. Conditions include being over
the age of 18, no credit checks needed,
with interest rates around 20 per cent,
depending on the loan amount and
repayment period. Some lenders require
proof of employment, others don’t.
Sharon Rigney said she was once caught
in the loan-debt trap for five years,
frequently paying interest rates of up to
25 per cent on $100 loans. She said she
regularly pawned her television and stereo
to pay utility bills, which soared each time
family boarded at her home.
“I just got determined not to do that
because I got tired of it and it made
me depressed,” said Ms Rigney. “I just
couldn’t live like that anymore.”
She sought help through a financial
counsellor and was able to: negotiate
better bill payment with her utility provider,
set up no or low interests loans, and
receive advanced benefit payments for
In March this year corporate regulator
Australian Securities and Investments
Commission (ASIC) issued a damning
report which found some payday lenders
were not meeting responsible lending
obligations under consumer protection
laws by engaging in risky behaviour around
loan suitability tests.
More than one million Australians currently
take out payday loans each year, with the
sector growing dramatically in the last 10
years. It was valued at about $1 billion in
For financial help call ASIC’s free
financial counselling hotline on 1800 007
007 (excludes mobile phones).
A growing number of undesirable
donations, including dirty underwear, are
costing South Australian op shops money
and are siphoning vital funds from the
poor and disadvantaged.
Op shops are bracing themselves this
month as people begin to off-load clothing
and household goods in the last month of
the big spring clean.
At least 50 tonnes of items donated
annually to the St Vincent de Paul Society
heads to the rubbish dump.
St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive
officer David Wark said Vinnies would
spend $160,000 this year disposing of
“It is a significant issue,” said Mr Wark.
He said the annual rubbish bill equated to
more than 26,000 meals from the Fred’s
Van service, which provides meals to the
homeless and marginalised.
Vinnies has 35 op shops across the State
to which the SA community generously
donates more than 250 tonnes of items
For smaller op shop charities, the cost
of disposing unusable items has an even
greater impact on an already tight budget.
“At least 30 per cent of what we receive
has to be disposed of,” said Pauleen
Hounslow, chairwoman of the Galilee
Op Shop. And about 40 per cent needs
washing and steaming.
The Galilee Op Shop is run by parishioners
and volunteers of the Willunga parish to
provide affordable clothing and household
goods to the southern suburbs – an area
of known disadvantage.
“On the whole, most of our donated items
are very good,” said Mrs Hounslow.
However, the op shop has had to discard
CD covers, televisions, a couch and dirty
Figures released during National Op Shop
Week in August show op shop charities
are spending several millions of dollars to
dispose of unsellable items.
“The Salvos alone spend up to $6 million
a year on disposal costs and landfill fees,”
says National Op Shop Week founder Jon
According to the Do Something Charity
over two billion items are donated
nationally each year. However the charity
says an increasing number of those items
are simply rubbish, including dirty nappies,
broken appliances, stained sheets, empty
paint tins and even used dentures.
Mr Wark and Mrs Hounslow said the best
rule of thumb when donating to an op
shop was would you give this item to your
friend and if the answer was no then it
needed to be binned.
If people are unsure about donations,
they should contact Vinnies on
8112 8777 or the Galilee Op Shop on
0451 830 929.
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
Op shop dump fees equal 26,000 meals
THINK BEFORE YOU DONATE: Galilee Op Shop Friday team leader Genevieve
Wallfried with volunteers (L-R) Christina Tiedja, Maureen Percival and Pam Holland
have to sift through bags and bags of unsellable items donated each year.
SHORT-CHANGED: (L-R) Sharon Rigney at the Otherway Centre with NATSICC
national administrator Craig Arthur looking at alternatives to payday loans.
Avoid payday loans at all costs
The St Vincent de Paul Society has made
14 recommendations for urgent action by
the Federal Government to help enable
people to achieve their dream of a life
In a report called Sick with Worry, the
Society’s national council highlights the
stigma faced by those living in poverty,
the inherent insecurity that homelessness
and housing stress entails and the
disproportionate impact of poverty on
Launched during Anti-Poverty Week
2015 by Vinnies CEO Dr John Falzon in
conjunction with the Social Determinants
of Health Alliance Anti-Poverty Week
Oration in Canberra, the report contains
more than 20 personal stories from the
front-line of poverty.
“Our task is to transform these personal
stories of injustice into powerful, collective
struggle for a society in which people are
not blamed because economic structures
lock them out or, in some cases, lock them
up; one in which people are not told that
they would not be poor if only they chose
to be a little more productive,” said
“Even while being excluded by a range
of structural causes which push them to
the edge, what people want most is to
participate in and contribute to society.”
A key recommendation of the report
is the development of a national jobs
plan alongside comprehensive plans for
housing and health. It says the Federal
Government must take the lead on tackling
homelessness, including increased
investment and minimum four-year funding
commitments to the National Partnership
The report also calls for taxation, income
support and wage reform.
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