Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the start of the new Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) funding round, which will deliver national coverage for rural communities and clients in need for the next three years.
Minister Joyce said 12 service providers will deliver the long running service to farming families across Australia.
“109 full-time-equivalent RFCS counsellors delivered services to more than 5,000 clients across the nation last year, highlighting its importance in rural and regional areas,” Minister Joyce said.
“This continuing funding package of $47 million through to 2019 demonstrates the Coalition Government’s firm commitment to supporting farmers, fishers, forest growers, forest harvesters and rural small businesses who need advice on managing their finances.
“Core funding for the RFCS has continued to increase under the Coalition Government, rising from $13.56 million in 2012–13 under Labor, up to $15.01 million by the end of the new funding round in 2018–19.
“The Government is also strengthening the RFCS by implementing enhancements arising from the National Rural Advisory Council’s 2014 review of the RFCS.
“Importantly, there will be increased flexibility built into the programme to boost resources in areas where there is an unexpected spike in demand, such as those hit by drought, flood and other events.
“The number of service providers has been reduced from 14 regions to 12, meaning that more funds are available to help farmers in need rather than being spent on administration.
“The operation of the RFCS, including eligibility criteria, funding base and regional boundaries had not been reviewed since 2007, and these changes will make sure funds are being spent effectively to deliver the same, or higher level of service to farmers across the country. The new funding arrangements are also better targeting areas in need.
“We have also provided extra transitional funding to regions most affected by the boundary changes, to make sure that services to clients continue smoothly.
“In addition to farmers, fishing enterprises and small related businesses that are in financial hardship being eligible, forest growers and harvesters will now also be able to access the service.
“This important service is jointly funded and I welcome the continuing commitment of state and territory governments to support the RFCS.
“The RFCS 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.”
Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce. For more information, visit agriculture.gov.au/rfcs.