$1.5M in­jec­tion boosts ru­ral coun­selling ser­vice

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

FARM­ERS across the Lock­yer Val­ley in fi­nan­cial hard­ship or drought will ben­e­fit from $1,488,727 the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is de­liv­er­ing for the South­ern Queens­land Ru­ral Fi­nan­cial Coun­selling Ser­vice (RFCS) to ex­tend its fund­ing to 2020.

Mem­ber for Wright Scott Buch­holz said this ad­di­tional in­vest­ment in the lo­cal RFCS would be wel­comed by farm­ers in the Lock­yer Val­ley as dry con­di­tions con­tin­ued, en­sur­ing coun­sel­lors could meet de­mand.

“We breed them tough out here in the Lock­yer Val­ley but, no mat­ter how tough you are, there some­times comes a point where you need a help­ing hand,” Mr Buch­holz said.

“The RFCS is an es­sen­tial ser­vice and is help­ing around 256 clients lo­cally, sit­ting down around their kitchen tables to talk it out and make a plan for the fu­ture.

“The coun­sel­lors help clients make busi­ness de­ci­sions, plans and im­prove­ments, such as pri­ori­tis­ing pay­ments to cred­i­tors, ne­go­ti­at­ing with lenders, and de­cid­ing on their long-term vi­sion.”

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture David Lit­tleproud said the ex­ten­sion would be wel­comed by ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, with around two thirds of clients stat­ing the RFCS had helped im­prove their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

“The feed­back speaks for it­self. The pro­gram is a good one and as dry con­di­tions con­tinue the ser­vice must too,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

“The ad­di­tional fund­ing takes our to­tal in­vest­ment to more than $70 mil­lion for the RFCS from April 1, 2016, to June 30, 2020.

“The coun­sel­lors also pro­vide vi­tal in­for­ma­tion about other as­sis­tance such as the gov­ern­ment’s Farm House­hold Al­lowance and sup­port to reach their goals while on pay­ment.

“The FHA has helped more than 7900 re­cip­i­ents.

“About 85 per cent of peo­ple com­ing off farm sup­port said they were sat­is­fied with the pro­gram, which would in­di­cate it is work­ing well.”

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