Gillard Government supports free rural financial counselling services
4 May 2011Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, today announced that the Gillard Government will extend Rural Financial Counselling Services across Australia for a further four years.
The Australian Government will provide $54.9 million over four years in grants to the 14 state and regional organisations that currently deliver the RFCS on behalf of the Government.
This includes $13.3 million in funding in 2011-12 and a further $41.6 million from 2012-13 to 2014-15 to support the program.
Minister Ludwig said the RFCS provides free and vital assistance to farmers, fishers and small rural businesses in financial difficulty throughout Australia.
“Australia’s farmers and food producers face a complex mix of challenges, from droughts and floods to pest and disease threats and resource constraints,” he said.
“The Gillard Government is committed to providing farmers and their families with effective support so that they can overcome these challenges and enhance the profitability and competitiveness of their businesses.
“Rural financial counsellors provide a wide range of information to help farmers in rural and regional Australia identify financial and business options and negotiate with their lenders.
“In 2009-10 alone, more than 10,200 farming, fishing and small rural business clients accessed the services provided by rural financial counsellors across the country.”
There are more than 190 individuals employed by not-for-profit organisations delivering rural financial counselling services, with 119 of these people working as rural financial counsellors.
“Rural financial counsellors will have a busy time ahead, helping farmers assess the health of their businesses and plan for their future as they recover from the drought and the recent floods,” Minister Ludwig said.
“This decision demonstrates the Government’s commitment to providing real services to regional Australia, and builds on the legacy of the Hawke Government which introduced the program.”
FIND OUT MORE: Further information on the RFCS, including the locations and contact details of rural financial counsellors, can be obtained by calling 1800 686 175, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the website at the Tasmnaian RFCS: www.rfcstasmania.com.