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Rural Financial Counselling Service Program

Rural Financial Counselling Service Program

The Rural Financial Counselling Service Program is an Australian Government initiative that provides free and independent financial counselling to eligible farmers, fishers, foresters and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship. 

The Australian Government is investing over $61 million (GST exclusive) in the Rural Financial Counselling Service Program between  2021-24.

The objectives of the Rural Financial Counselling Service Program are to:

  • transition clients out of financial crisis

  • improve clients’ business profitability or facilitate a dignified exit; and

  • improve clients’ financial well-being and resilience.

Purpose

The overarching outcome of the program is that clients who engage with the service become financially self-reliant and their businesses are better prepared to deal with risks.

Rural financial counsellors are located in twelve Rural Financial Counselling Service Program service regions across Australia.

As part of their service, with a focus on the case management approach, these rural financial counsellors:

  • help clients to understand their business situation and underlying problems

  • support clients to come to terms with their situation and feel in control of their future

  • discuss options and longer term goals to improve clients’ financial position

  • develop clients’ financial knowledge, skills, confidence

  • engage clients in the decision-making process

  • develop business plans/strategies for clients and supporting implementation of these through monitoring client progress

  • help clients to apply for government programs and other assistance that will support the path back to self-sufficiency (for example apply for the Farm Household Allowance)

  • represent and advocate for clients rights/needs (that is, negotiations or mediation with banks and creditors)

  • assist clients to prepare for meetings with other professionals

  • refer clients to broader professional advice and support.

Rural financial counsellors do not give family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice. They refer to other professional services, including accountants, agricultural advisors, education services, and mental health support.

Key dates

On 1 July 2021 the Rural Financial Counselling Service transferred from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (now National Emergency Management Agency).

Eligibility

Eligible clients include farmers, fishers, foresters and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship.

An individual in receipt of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) will be regarded as experiencing financial hardship and will be eligible for the service automatically.

More information

Visit our dedicated service provider page to learn where rural financial counsellors are located.

Read more about the Rural Financial Counselling Service Program logic and funding selection process for these providers and further program details in the program guidelines.

Questions related to the program can be submitted directly to the Rural Financial Counselling Service Program team at rfcs@nema.gov.au.

Any general questions or comments about the National Emergency Management Agency can be submitted via our ‘contact us’ form.