Rural Financial Counselling Service Program
The Rural Financial Counselling Service Program transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under Machinery of Government changes on 1 July 2023.
Please follow this link to view updated RFCS information on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) 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 $62.3 million (GST exclusive) in the Rural Financial Counselling Service Program between 2021-24.
The objectives of the RFCS 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.
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, and 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.
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.