Media Release

​Grant round opens for Rural Financial Counselling Service providers

10 September 2015

Applications are now open for organisations to apply for funding as part of the merit-based competitive grants round to provide Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) from April 2016 to 2019.​

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the new grants round demonstrated the Australian Government’s ongoing support for the RFCS.

“The RFCS has been providing an important service to our farmers and rural communities for almost 30 years—and we are committed to seeing the good work of the RFCS continue into the future,” Minister Joyce said.

“Applications are now open for a competitive, merit-based grants round—I encourage organisations interested in providing this important service to regional Australia to apply.

“As part of the next round of the programme, we have made improvements to the regional boundaries for service areas, to ensure there is national coverage.

“Producers in the Northern Territory will now also have permanent access to the RFCS, through a combined South Australia—Northern Territory service.

“Current providers have had their contracts extended to 31 March 2016 to ensure a smooth transition between providers, if required. Any new providers will start in January 2016 but will not begin delivering the new RFCS programme until 1 April 2016. This will give them time to familiarise themselves with their regions and ensure there is continuity of service for clients.

“As part of our drought support package, we have already committed $1.8 million in additional funding to provide extra support and boost service hours in drought-affected areas—this is on top of the $14.3 million allocated to the programme for 2015–16.

“We’re also working to implement many of the recommendations of the National Rural Advisory Council review of the service to ensure it is best meeting the needs of clients,” Minister Joyce said.

The RFCS programme provides grants to non-government organisations to provide free financial counselling to farmers, fishing businesses and small, related businesses suffering financial hardship and have no alternative sources of impartial support. From 1 April 2016 forest growers and harvesters will also be eligible for the service.

For more information on the RFCS, including on the 2016 to 2019 merit-based competitive grants round, visit agriculture.gov.au/rfcs​ or call 1800 686 175.  Applications close at midday (AEDT) 16 October 2015.