Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley 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 Ley said a new funding round would start from today and will help support rural communities and clients in need for years to come.
“Twelve service providers nationally will be able to continue their valuable work in helping our farming families, including Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Central West Incorporated, which spans some 60% of NSW, including areas of my electorate west to Cameron Corner and Wentworth and Balranald in the south west,” Ms Ley 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 Coalition 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 Ley said core funding for the RFCS had 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 Coalition 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,” she said.

“While the number of service providers has been reduced from 14 regions to 12, it means at 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 Ley 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. 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.”

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