Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)
On 28 April 2021, the Australian Government announced successful applicants for the 2021 to 2024 Rural Financial Counselling Service Program.
The successful service providers will deliver free financial counselling to primary producers experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship. The new program will start 1 July 2021.
On 11 May 2021 the government announced a $5 million funding boost for the program to help RFCS providers manage higher fluctuating demand over the 2021 to 2024 grant period.
The government is providing over $61 million (GST excl) in grant funding over 3 years.
Are you experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship?
Talk to a rural financial counsellor. It is a free, confidential service. They can give you individual support to meet your needs and help you to make the right decisions for your business.
Rural financial counsellors are located within key agricultural communities across Australia.
Find your local RFCS:
Download the financial counselling service map of Australia (PDF, 2 MB, 1 page)
This service is for:
- fishing enterprises
- forest growers and harvesters
- related small business owners.
You can access the RFCS if you are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship.
Other financial counselling available
Financial hardship in regional communities does not stop at the farm gate. Other financial counselling services are available if you are not eligible for the RFCS program. This includes services for:
- small regional businesses affected by drought, bushfire or COVID-19
- people in regional communities experiencing financial hardship.
Rural financial counsellors can help you to understand your financial position and the viability of your enterprise. They can help you develop and implement plans to improve your financial situation.
As part of their service, rural financial counsellors can also help you to:
- identify your financial and business options
- negotiate with your lenders
- identify other assistance schemes
- apply for Farm Household Allowance.
Rural financial counsellors do not give family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice, but can refer you to other professional services, including accountants, agricultural advisors, education, or mental health services.
The Australian Government has funded this service in regional communities since 1986.
The RFCS program was created in response to increased financial difficulties across the rural sector due to high interest rates, the deregulation of the financial sector, drought and depressed commodity prices. It was initially intended as a short-term assistance measure, but has continued in several forms to the present day.
The Australian Government has allocated more than $105 million in funding to the RFCS program since 1 April 2016. This includes an additional $15 million announced on 14 January 2020, to fund additional rural financial counsellors and support workers to assist primary producers amid the bushfire and drought crisis over the next two years.
Further funding was also announced in 2020 for initiatives that will provide financial counselling to small regional businesses impacted by drought, bushfire or COVID-19.
There are 12 RFCS service regions across Australia. Between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 there were more than 6,600 active clients.
RFCS program review
We recently completed a review into the RFCS program.
Outcomes of the review are now available in the Internal review into the 2016 to 2020 Rural Financial Counselling Service program report.
Call 1800 686 175 to be referred to your nearest RFCS office.