Media Release

Review of Rural Financial Counselling Service

19 May 2014

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has announced a review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), which provides free financial counselling to farmers in financial difficulty.

"In April, I asked the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) to conduct a review of the RFCS to ensure it is working effectively to support farmers and producers," Minister Joyce said.

This is a business-as-usual review as part of routine governance processes, with NRAC due to report to the Minister for Agriculture by 30 September 2014. The last review of the RFCS by NRAC was in 2004 so it's timely to review the service now.

The Australian Government provides grants to 14 not-for-profit organisations to employ suitably qualified rural financial counsellors – there are about 120 financial counsellors currently working across Australia.

"Since 1986, the RFCS has been helping farmers, fishers and small rural businesses make business decisions, supporting them through farm debt mediation and helping them access sources of professional, industry and government assistance," Minister Joyce said.

"The review will ensure that the Australian Government continues to provide quality services that support farmers in tough times.

"My department informed the RFCS of the review some time ago. As part of the review, NRAC will be consulting with RFCS providers and clients, industry representative bodies and state and territory governments."

For more information visit www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/drought/nrac

For more information about assistance measures call the Department of Human Services' Farmer Assistance Line on 13 23 16 or visit www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/drought/assistance