In addition to the recent extension to Farm Household Allowance program to four cumulative years (effective 1 August 2018), pending the passage of legislation the Australian Government has announced further significant changes to the program – with two lump sum supplementary payments worth up to $12,000 for eligible households and changing the assets threshold to allow thousands more farmers to access support.
To find out more call the Rural Financial Counselling Service 1800 686 175 for assistance.
On 29 July 2018, the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud announced a review of the Farm Household Allowance, which provides help for farmers facing hardship, particularly during drought.
Further information, including terms of reference and ways to engage with the review, will be published on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
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Farm Household Allowance (FHA) provides eligible farmers and their partners experiencing financial hardship with assistance through planning and training for long-term financial improvements as well as income support for up to four years.
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Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is an Australian Government support package that’s available to eligible farmers and their partners experiencing hardship for up to four cumulative years (1,460 days).
FHA gives farmers breathing space to implement plans and seek training to become financially self-sufficient, so they are better placed to sustain their farming businesses.
The FHA program focuses on helping farmers make important decisions to improve their long-term financial situation. There are four key support elements to the program:
- A fortnightly payment and supplementary allowances such as rent assistance, telephone and pharmaceutical allowances and a Health Care Card
- Individual case support with a Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO) and a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC)
- A financial assessment of the farm enterprise up to $1,500
- A $4,000 activity supplement that gives farmers an opportunity to develop skills, access training and pay for advice to better manage their business into the future.
FHA is delivered by the Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS). Payments are made fortnightly, at a rate that aligns with social security allowances, such as Newstart Allowance (or Youth Allowance for those under 22 years of age).
Before farmers can receive FHA they will need to supply verifying information to ensure they’re paid at the right rate. The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) can assist.
Planning for the future
Farmers in hardship are strongly encouraged to seek immediate support from the RFCS to assess their circumstances. Part of this support is assessing opportunities and timing of applying for a range of assistance, including FHA.
Once eligible, farmers will meet with a FHCO and RFC to develop a plan for their future.
Whatever the plan may be, farmers will have an opportunity to discuss and review it regularly with their FHCO and RFC. This will ensure farmers maximise the opportunities available to them during their time on the FHA program.
This individual case management and personalised support also encourages farmers to use their FHA payments strategically – empowering them to decide when it’s best to transition off payment and preserve their financial support for future hardship.
Farmers and their partners in hardship are urged to take action now. Contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service 1800 686 175 or call the Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316.
Applying for FHA
Need some assistance?
Don’t have a Rural Financial Counsellor? It’s a free service. Find one near you at agriculture.gov.au/rfcs or call 1800 686 175
Support is available, but don’t self-assess – the Department of Human Services and the Rural Financial Counselling Service can help you evaluate your situation.
Management of FHA policy and payments is shared across multiple government departments.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources manages the policy.
Read the guidelines relating to the administration of FHA.
Applications for Farm Household Allowance are managed by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Applicants are encouraged to not self-assess your eligibility. You can seek advice on eligibility or how to apply for assistance, by contacting the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.
Eligible farmers and their partners can access, for up to four years:
- income support allowance
- dedicated case management to help a recipient assess their situation and develop a plan for the future
- a financial assessment and assessment of their farm enterprise called a Farm Financial Assessment (FFA), including up to $1,500 to assist with completing that assessment
- a plan to address the challenges facing them and their farm enterprise called a Financial Improvement Agreement (FIA), including up to $4,000 to undertake activities identified in the FIA
- ongoing support from the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).
Eligible farmers and their partners can access up to four cumulative years of payment. This is designed to give recipients the time to take steps to improve their circumstances. Farmers and their partners are not required to use their three years in one go.
Apply for assistance
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for receiving and assessing FHA applications, delivering FHA payments and engaging in individual case management.
DHS can provide advice on:
- application process
- processing and progress of applications
- appeals process
- general enquiries.
Find out more about applying for Farm Household Allowance on the Department of Human Services website.
Rural Financial Counselling Service
Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) provides free financial counselling. Counsellors can assist with the FHA application process and once granted can help a recipient to meet the program requirements.
Contact the RFCS enquiries line on
1800 686 175 for more information.
Manage your taxable income
Payments made under FHA, including the activity supplement and the FFA supplement, are taxable income payments. Some expenses incurred in obtaining the activity supplement and FFA supplement may also be tax deductible.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides
special assistance to drought-affected taxpayers.
Contact the ATO Small Business Hotline on 13 28 66 for more information.