Future of Rural Financial Counselling Service secured

Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price has welcomed today’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce that funding for Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) will continue for the next three years.

Ms Price said a new funding round would start from today and help support rural communities and clients in need for years to come.

“Twelve service providers around the nation will be able to continue their valuable work in helping our farming families, including Primary Production Services Inc,” Ms Price said.

“More than 5,000 clients across Australia accessed RFCS services last year, a clear indication of how valuable it is to farming businesses.

“The continuing funding package of $47 million through to 2019 demonstrates the Turnbull Government’ s absolute commitment to supporting our farmers, fishers, forest growers, forest harvesters and rural small businesses who need advice on managing their finances.”

Ms Price said core funding for the RFCS had continued to increase under the Turnbull Government, rising from $13.56 million in 2012-13 under Labor, to $15.01 million by the end of the new funding round in 2018-19.

“The Turnbull Government is also strengthening the programme by implementing enhancements flowing from the National Rural Advisory Council’s 2014 review of the RFCS, including increased flexibility to boost resources in areas where there is a spike in demand, such as communities hit by drought, flood and other events,” Ms Price said.

“While the number of service providers has been reduced from 14 regions to 12, it means more funds are available to help farmers rather than being spent on administration.

“It will allow more effective and efficient spending so clients can receive the same or higher levels of service, as well as better targeting of areas in need.

“Extra transitional funding has also been made available to regions most affected by the boundary changes, to make sure that services to clients continue smoothly.”

Ms Price said forest growers and harvesters would now be able to access the service, along with farmers, fishing enterprises and small related businesses that are in financial hardship.

“The RFCS is jointly funded and I certainly welcome the ongoing commitment of state and territory governments in supporting the programme. It has been providing an important service to farmers and rural communities for almost 30 years, and we are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to this service,” Ms Price said.

For more information, visit: agriculture.gov.au/rfcs.